Swimming Against the Tide
Andrew Notter from the BCC Board opened proceedings by welcoming the special guest for the evening, Paule Kremer, a Luxembourg English Teacher by school day and an ultra-endurance athlete at any other time. He was also honoured to welcome the British Ambassador, Fleur Thomas, among the audience.
Paule is the only known Luxembourger to have swum the English Channel. A cold and draining 13hours and 54 seconds of swimming where the risks were plentiful and the strength of mind to continue was stretched to its limit. Not a natural athlete at school, she revealed, Paule completed the crossing in 2017 at the age of 29 years.
In a revealing question and answer session with Claudia Neumeister of the BCC People and Leadership Group, Paule outlined the various challenges which she had faced in getting ready for the swim and the mental and physical demands which had to be tackled. Having also competed in Triathlon and Duathlon events, she actively engaged those present with how she overcame the personal difficulties of managing her time, getting support and undertaking training while juggling with other priorities. There were lessons she had learned which others could follow in their everyday lives, too.
While not unique to women, she considered that setting and achieving big goals were very relevant for anyone who did not relish the prospect of looking back with regrets in old age. She spoke of the difficulties for women in overcoming a sense of self-worth and facing up to imposter syndrome.
Paule talked about the importance of developing mental strength and self-belief and fascinated the audience with her insights on how she gets into a state of flow in order to keep going - when the going gets tough.
Claudia discovered during questioning that there is much more to come for Paule. Her swimming challenges will continue. Later this year, Covid or other international crises permitting, she plans to swim the Catalina Channel. That will be her second open water swim of the so-called Oceans Seven - comprising the English Channel, Catalina Channel, Straits of Gibraltar, North Channel, Kaiwi Channel, Cook Straits and the Tsugaru Strait. She is currently looking for sponsorship and would welcome any contact from interested parties.
Paule revealed that she was keen to stress the importance of overcoming limiting beliefs and doubts. She considered this was certainly something which many women faced and that imposter syndrome was a real threat to success. Of course, taking on personal challenges was not easy and required plenty of self-discipline and clear goal setting. It was inevitable that certain sacrifices had to be made, but she highlighted the significance of making personal plans and priorities while also being prepared to accept valuable support from others along the way.
Over drinks and canapes the audience were eager to continue posing questions and draw from her experience and advice. The general message was that much rests on mental strength. But if you really set your heart and mind to a goal, then you can have success. “Just do it” was her advice.
In closing the event and thanking Paule and everyone for a wonderful and inspirational evening, Andrew Notter took the opportunity to stress the continuing importance of International Women’s Day and thank Ginkgo for hosting the event and Concept Factory and MyOwnTaxPractice for their generous sponsorship.
Dr Keith Amoss