Next up in our 'Women Who Inspire Us' series is none other than the incredible Chelsea Levin! A familiar face on our 'gram, Chelsea is a woman who inspires us every day with her gorg smile and can-do attitude. We reached out to Chelsea to learn more about how she fell in love with ocean swimming, what a week in her life looks like and so much more! From spending her early years following the blue line as a pool swimmer to being obsessed with being out in the big blue as an ocean swimmer, Chelsea's pretty much a mermaid at this point. Read on for a whole lotta inspiration from this incredible woman. 👇
GET TO KNOW CHELSEA
How did you get into ocean swimming?
I grew up as a pool swimmer, swimming 7 x times a week and competed at state level. I was swimming captain in year 12 and following the blue line was my life! After school ended, I lost my passion for the pool and had a 10 year hiatus from swimming. Then one day in Jan 2021 my new housemate took me along with her to an ocean swimming group. I'll never forget not being able to sleep the night before because I was SO certain I would be eaten by a shark and die in the morning. I always loved the ocean but would never go in too far as I have a massive fear of sharks. But I still got up, put my cozzie on and turned up. And I did it... And I wasn't eaten by a shark! I was so scared the entire time and my heart was racing but it also somehow felt amazing, like I was living life on the edge and was completely in the moment. It was amazing. And I was immediately addicted.
It is so easy to get hooked on ocean swimming when you swim with groups that go weekly - it instantly became part of my weekly routine and seeing the same smiling faces each week as you get through the swim together made me feel a sense of community that is equally as endorphin releasing as the feeling of swimming out into the deep blue.
Being a good swimmer, I realized pretty quickly I was actually quite good at ocean swimming. However, navigating the swell, waves, currents and rips is a completely different ball game to following a blue line and tumble turns. I soon joined BOSS Squad (Bondi Ocean Surf Swim Squad) to help me work on my ocean swimming skills including wading, dolphin diving, timing the sets, body surfing and sighting. All skills I wish I had learnt as a child or doing nippers (but I know it's never too late to start!) I then began competing in open water swimming races, racing against people who had been around the ocean all their lives.
I've had so much so learn and so many fears to overcome (still learning and still overcoming my fears!) - including catching big waves!! So I am really proud of myself for always giving it ago and I am pleased to have placed in many races I've competed in. I have also recently become a volunteer surf life saver for North Bondi Surf Club and have almost completed my first season!
My advice if you want to get into ocean swimming is to find a local group you can join - the ocean swimming community is always incredibly welcoming and is way better than swimming alone! And I highly recommend doing some ocean swimming courses to improve your skills if you're not super experienced with the ocean. Always know your limits, stay safe and never swim alone!
What's your fave thing about being out in the ocean?
My fave thing about being in the ocean is that no two days are the same. The conditions today will be different to the conditions tomorrow and being comfortable with whatever todays conditions are gives a sense of excitement and exhilleration that I can't quite explain. When you're in the ocean you're not thinking about what meeting you have on that day or what groceries you need to buy at the shops after work. You're existing in the present moment and your sole focus is on being in sync with the water. Its peaceful and calming yet electrifying and heart pum ping all at the same time.
Being in the ocean is also the only time in the day I am not looking at a screen and have zero technology around me. I refuse to even wear a watch when I am swimming because I love being away from all technology and feeling present and in tune with myself and the water.
What does your training schedule look like?
I'm not training for anything in particular at the moment but somehow I am still doing 9 x training sessions a week - 3 x gym sessions, 4 x ocean swims, 1 x pool swim + 1 x biathlon - simply because I love it all (I would do more but there isn't enough days in the week!)
Monday • Gym (chest and shoulders)
Tuesday • Gym (legs) + pool squad
Wednesday • Ocean swim (Boss Squad)
Thursday • Gym (back and biceps) + ocean swim (Bondi Wombats)
Friday • Ocean swim (Bondi Salties)
Saturday • Ocean swim (Boss Squad longer swim)
Sunday • Biathlon (The People's Biathlon at North Bondi - 900m run + 400m swim x 2)
Tell us about something you've had to overcome on your swimming journey
The biggest challenges I've had to overcome in my ocean swimming journey so far have all been mental challenges. Overcoming my crippling fear of sharks + waves for starters but also deeper challenges surrounding self worth. Having started ocean swimming in my mid-late twenties I have often suffered 'imposter syndrome' feeling like because I haven't had years of experience and because I still am facing fears around basic ocean swimming skills such as body surfing big waves and not being a great runner for race starts/finishes I am never going to be deserving or capable enough to feel like a successful athlete.
This also ties into body image too - I have often felt like I don't fit the stereotypical 'image' of what an open water athlete should look like as a size L curvy woman but I am constantly reminding myself that there is no definition of what an athelete should and shouldn't look like and that my body is actually incredible for allowing me to do what I do. My mind is also equally as amazing for the amount of determination I have to continue, despite the fears I experience every time I swim. I work really hard and am always pushing myself to overcome my fears, one step at a time so I am super proud of each little baby step I take... when I look back to where I started I have come a very long way!
What's your number one piece of advice for young female sportswomen?
My number 1 piece of advice is to remember at the end of the day the only person you're competing against is yourself. I've always been a firm believer that you don't have to be the 'best' at something to be the most successful - you just have to try your hardest and always do the best you can. If you enter a race and you have given it 100%, no matter the outcome, you are still a winner! Don't compare yourself to others and use your energy to focus on YOU!
FUN FACTS ABOUT CHELSEA
Fave hobby outside of swimming?
Creating content for my socials + eating haha
Fave pair of JOLYN's?
Pink Cosmos is my all time fave!
One thing on your bucket list
Get a selfie with a quokka at Rottnest Island (which I am doing in September!... And maybe do the Rottnest Island 20KM swim next year...!)
"Be afraid but do it anyway"
A random fact about you most people don't know
I don't own a single black item of clothing
Don't forget to follow Chelsea on her socials
to follow what she's up to and continue to be inspired by her journey!