Lysanne Richard on Diving Head First into Your Dreams
Have you ever met someone who enrolled in diving classes before even taking swimming lessons? Meet Lysanne Richard. At the age of 7, Lysanne Richard enrolled in diving classes at the local sports center because the swimming classes were full. Her parents thought this would only last for a couple of lessons until a spot in the swimming class opened, but regardless they wanted to get her in the water so she could learn to swim. However, Lysanne fell in love with diving on her first day of classes, and her life has revolved around high diving ever since. Today, Lysanne is a Red Bull high diver and mother of three; the only mother of all the permanent divers on the team at that.
After being thrown into diving classes and learning to swim in a seemingly unconventional way, Lysanne quickly outgrew the diving competition in her town. At the young age of 11, she moved towns, moved in with a different family, and attended a new school for 3 years, all so she could become the best high diver possible. Unfortunately, an injury kept Lysanne out of the water for a few months leading her to take a break from diving for the time being. This would be the first of several breaks in her whole career, three of the other breaks being for her three pregnancies. In her first hiatus, she transitioned her drive and passion from diving into a love for improv and theatre. Down the road, these art forms would lead Lysanne to graduate from the National Circus School of Montreal and work for Cirque du Soleil as an acrobat. Lysanne took many breaks in her diving career, but in each break she used her time very intentionally. Work-life balance is important to Lysanne. She preaches that she thinks it is alright to respond when life calls and and when family, friends, or health need to take priority. This ability to take a moment to find balance has also helped Lysanne juggle many different things when life gets busy. During her career outside of diving as a movement artist, she learned to stabilize a life full of working for Cirque du Soleil, taking classes at the National Circus School, diving in her free time, and taking care of her children. Lysanne’s drive and constant productivity, even during breaks, shows how her work ethic truly aided her journey to success.
Lysanne’s ability to return to competition after time off is truly remarkable. She remembers being the only mother on her team but also gives credit to her pregnancies for teaching her how to make these great comebacks every time. Since she had her first child at the age of 19, she learned what she needed to do to be successful upon her return. Despite having a child, she knew that her career was far from over and there was no doubt that she would continue diving and performing in the circus. Words truly cannot describe the drive Lysanne possesses, as it is extremely difficult to pick up where you left off in such a physical sport after taking a break from the craft. To still be competing after three pregnancies and carious injuries is truly remarkable.
One of Lysanne’s most insightful stories came from the hiatus she took in 2017. Lysanne was competing with the best cliff divers in the world in 2016, but a neck injury forced her to miss the 2017 season entirely. In her time away, she focused on her meditation practice, which turned out to be a fundamental element in her rehabilitation process and in her ability to always foster a positive mindset. Lysanne speaks about how mediation has given her the ability to be fully present. Meditation helps her maintain balance in each moment of life. She is able to set aside her diving career and other life stressors so that she can be present with her family while sharing laughs and making new memories. This mindfulness practice also proves to be helpful in her training. It allows her to be fully aware of her surroundings and take her diving practice to a new level. Lysanne emphasizes that it is very important to be mindful when diving and to have a perception of where the diver is in a routine to make the proper impact with the water. A diver’s vision and reaction time must be precise in order to quickly adapt their form, as one tiny fault could result in injury. Meditation is an effective practice for anyone to add to their life, as it can be very helpful when managing the many challenges we face.
“I knew I was going to go back because I already lived the same situation, it was always more about being sure that I was healed and that I was not going back to early.” – Lysanne
This mindset and rigorous training paved the way to Lysanne’s remarkable comeback in 2018. After a year away, countless practices, training, meditation routines, and mental health support, the mother of three, was able to finish the 2018 season with a win in Switzerland. Lysanne also finished five of the six cliff diving events in the top three that season. She said that before going into the season “I knew I was going to go back because I already lived the same situation, it was always more about being sure that I was healed and that I was not going back to early.”
“I have given myself the mission to make the sport [cliff diving] more normal for women.” – Lysanne
Lysanne is also a huge advocate for increasing female representation in high diving as a sport. She says, “I have given myself the mission to make the sport [cliff diving] more normal for women.” The team plans on competing in the 2024 Olympics and hopes to build more awareness to the sport and attract more women divers through this global platform. Lysanne realizes that this is a large task and she cannot do it alone. She explains, “My dream is bigger than my own ability. I need the dream team around me.”
“My dream is bigger than my own ability, I need the dream team around me.” – Lysanne
In addition, Lysanne shares her ambition in many conferences giving speeches to motivate people to live outside their comfort zones and face their fears like she has many times along her journey. As a cliff diver, who routinely dives off a 21-meter platform, Lysanne has definitely pushed her comfort zones to extraordinary heights. She hopes her story can inspire people to “not just keep your dream just as a dream, but to make this dream become a project.” It is very common for people, especially women, to stop competing in sports as they grow older, but Lysanne is committed to helping build confidence and self-awareness in young women to encourage them to stick with it and stay active in sports during this transformative age. Lysanne wouldn’t be the same person she is today if she had not stuck with her passion she found as a young girl. Lysanne is the prime example of sticking with her passion; she is the oldest woman on the team and still competes among a pool of very talented athletes.
It is important to note that along with being a motivator and successful athlete, Lysanne is a strong advocate for many issues that she has learned about through her life experiences, including mental health, self-confidence, woman’s sports, and more. Lysanne believes it is important to give back in this way because her life path was not easy for her. She wants to be able to share these experiences to help others however she can.
“I decided that I don’t do this for them anymore. I do this for myself. They can think what they want to think.” – LYsanne
Lysanne talked about many times where she struggled, lacked confidence, and even considered going back to Circus Du Soleil because it was a place where she was comfortable and did not have to prove her worth. Yet with consistent hard work alongside other athletes, her coaches, and her team, Lysanne pushed herself to keep practicing, keep building her skills, and keep competing. She realized that it did not matter what others thought. She says, “I decided that I don’t do this for them anymore. I do this for myself. They can think what they want to think.” It is important to focus on yourself and to keep working hard, even when others may think you’re not talented enough, you’re too old, you’re not athletic enough, and the list could go on. Even so, this doubt from others can fuel the fire and drive a person to continue to show off their talent, perform well, and prove those who doubted them wrong. Lysanne often says, “If you decide to quit, it’s not because you’re not good enough. It’s because you don’t appreciate it.”
“If you decide to quit, it’s not because you’re not good enough. It’s because you don’t appreciate it.” – Lysanne
From Lysanne’s story, we can all learn many things. To list a few, Enjoy the process. Redirect stress as excitement for what you have accomplished through hard work. Results will come in the end, so appreciate the process because without it the results are that much less meaningful. Thank you for sharing your story Lysanne! If you would like to follow along with Lysanne’s journey, check out her Instagram linked below.
Written by: Anna Rice & Jason Crowe
Interview by: Jason Crowe