Lysanne Richard, high on life
Professional high-flying diver and ambassador for Bota Bota, Lysanne will be the star of the Drift and Dive event on August 10 on the boat. We take a look back at the highs and lows of her career and what makes her journey so astounding.
It is 7:00 pm and Montreal is stretching its last sun rays after a long day. Park Avenue is bathed in the brightness that only a sunset can create. Gently, it swallows the city to the rhythm of the minutes on my clock. Lysanne Richard answers the phone, a smile in her voice. Her schedule is busy, but she remains available to talk about herself, her career and the many lives she’s lived.
Born in Chicoutimi and the last of three children, she grew up mostly in Saguenay Lac Saint Jean.
From a very young age, she remembers having the Olympic dream: “I was determined, I knew what I wanted”. She studies Sport Étude in high school in Quebec City where she takes intensive diving and returns to her family on the weekends.
“I do not know how my parents did it, I would not have been able to do that with my son!”, She adds with a laugh.
Ear problems, caused in part by multiple ear infections, forced her to stop diving for some time. She thus ventured into improvisation and theatre, a world that always made her dream with its many decors and imaginary characters. She joined the National Circus School Cégep in Montreal and went on to work 10 years for Cirque du Soleil.
Yet, like any first love, she went back to diving from time to time, performing in several high dive shows. She learned on the job and improved with each performance.
The competition circuit
With the birth of her third child it was time to settle down: “My teenager wanted a life of his own and I wanted to be able to give him that”. It was actually great timing since the high diving circuit had developed over the years, especially with the Red Bull Cliff Diving and the International Swimming Federation (FINA). Lysanne tells me that high diving is the only sport in the FINA that is not yet represented at the Olympics. In her voice, I detect a precise determination, one that will probably never die. She will be at the Olympics and will represent this sport someday.
Her return to diving makes waves. She wins first place at the FINA World Cup and consistently wins a spot on the podium at the Red Bull Cliff Diving in 2016.
2017 is a difficult year, following a major neck injury. Diving stops and with it settles doubt as her confidence shaken. However, she keeps a cool head: “It’s about having small goals, reaching them gradually and adding them one by one allows the greatest achievement”. She applies this state of mind to all parts of her life.
In 2018, Lysanne sees the light at the end of the tunnel. She is now healed and has renewed hope regarding the competition circuit. Many things have changed during the past year; the girls have improved and she has to get back in the game. She knows she is competent and does not doubt her ability to get back on track: “If I am able to recover from my injury, it is worth enjoying a few more years.”
At 36, she still has a couple of years of high-diving ahead; the senior diver in the sport is 43 years old.
“It’s a sport that is very physical, but also very mental. Experience, age and wisdom are definitely a plus”.
Perched at the very top of her diving platform, Lysanne empties her mind. It is a moment of meditation before she spreads her wings. At the Azores, during her last competition, she found herself in perfect harmony with nature, her feet on only a few centimetres of rocky plate, her back against the cliff, waves rolling several meters beneath her.
Her secret? Three repeated keywords that will help her dive successfully. It’s a language that she’s developed with her coach which allows her to visualize what she is about to do. She gives me examples but quickly laughs, realizing that these words seem absurd and meaningless to someone like me.
“I always end up telling myself the same thing before diving: you can do this”.
The women in her life
When Lysanne looks back on her journey, she cannot help but think of all the women she has met along the way. The first place on the podium goes to her mother, whom she praises with kind words: “I have a lot of admiration for her. I am very grateful to her for allowing me to accomplish so much. I cannot find one bad thing to say about her. ”
Ginger Huber, the senior diver, also holds an important spot in her heart. Despite her advanced age in the competition, she is an example to follow for Lysanne. She also mentions her Essentrics coach, Maude Desjardins, who has become a friend of hers over time.
Although the world of high-flying diving is predominantly male, Lysanne is surrounded by a beautiful female presence.
“This sport takes women who have guts”, and Lysanne definitely has guts, being the only Canadian on the international high diving competition circuit.
On August 10, 2018, Lysanne will dive from the top of the boat’s roof into the St. Laurent River during a special evening at the Bota Bota. On this subject, she cannot hide her excitement: “I’m really looking forward to it! I’ve always had the wish to be able to live this one day “. What she likes about performances like this one: the exchange.
“We give but we get a lot back too. When the crowd applauds, it’s kind of like free love”. She’s looking forward to this moment: “This event at Bota Bota is the perfect combination of a dream location and my favorite sport. I’m also very happy to see my friends, Maxime Robitaille and Marie-Andrée Normandin, with whom I’ve done shows in the past. ”
Lysanne has a bubbling personality and her appetite for life shines through when she dives.
As the sun disperses its last rays, our conversation draws to a close. Lysanne is a fulfilled woman and her life shines with her many accomplishments, at home and at work: “I was lucky to have the opportunity to do so many cool things. I have my children, I travel a lot … ”
Everyone has their own idea of excelling and for Lysanne, the Olympic dream is the one nearest to her heart. Her life will always be a balance between diving and giving a show, but one thing is certain, Lysanne Richard remains an extraordinary character that Canada can be proud of.
copyright photo: Romina Amato / Red Bull Content Pool