Business Chicks member Lauren Tischendorf is attempting to be the fastest person to circumnavigate the 35 kilometres of ocean around Lord Howe Island (in a solo, single session no less!). We caught up to learn why…
Hey Lauren! Can you tell us a bit about yourself?
I’m a school teacher with a keen focus on supporting children with disabilities: the science of neurology and genetics behind that fascinate me. Originally from South Africa, I’ve lived in Australia for over 20 years (west of Roma, Queensland, and now in Sydney). My family is scattered around the world, so we squeeze Christmas, birthdays, and all manner of celebrations into a few days when we’re able to get together. Like the rest of the world that’s not happened for over a year, but I count myself very lucky to be here in Australia.
You’re the reigning female New South Wales 5km age ocean swim champion, very impressive! Have you always loved the water?
For as long as I can remember! Everyone in my neighborhood had a pool growing up, so we were always jumping fences to swim, and I also did diving, synchronised swimming and water-polo as a child. After moving to Sydney almost ten years ago and spending time on the Eastern beaches, I’ve explored ocean swimming much more deeply. There is nothing better than a sunrise swim at Bondi to start your week off, it’s meditative bliss! I now swim daily, if not twice a day. Group swims are best, but there is personal joy in doing a Bondi lap to clear the cobwebs with a body surf in between (the big swell keeps you grounded).
What pushed you to set this upcoming challenge for yourself?
I’ve been swimming 135km per week for the past three years (ocean swims were a sublime relief during COVID). In mid-2020 before a group ocean swim kicked off, I received an off-hand remark about not being able to keep up with the male group. I went on to beat them in the swim, and the experience flicked a switch within me to keep adventuring, pushing my boundaries and stay accountable to myself. No woman or girl should be told they are not worthy or strong enough when they are doing the hard work. As long as we know our own capabilities and boundaries, no one should tell us what we can or can’t achieve.
You’ll be creating a documentary film to capture the experience of the challenge. How did this come about and what message do you hope it will convey?
Every time I watch an adventure film or documentary, I feel personally motivated. Whether it’s a short three-minute or 30-minute film, they have the power to inspire something within. The ocean seascape is still so untapped and in dire need of protection, so to be able to share that, along with my story, I hope will inspire something in someone or encourage someone who is feeling a bit lost in life to try something new.
Do you have a mentor or anyone you turn to for inspo?
I look to my past ancestors. They’re pretty remarkable, some of them founding women in their fields. My fellow swimming squad friends (some aged in their 60s) are so strong yet unassuming and swim crazy lengths.
The mentality of keeping to your own lane is something I’m pleased to have found and am continually inspired by (especially when the rest of the world and your mother tell you you’re crazy). I’m also inspired by the women and men around me in various communities and business arenas I’m involved with. There’s something to learn from everyone’s story.
How can the Business Chicks community support you?
I am passionate about women championing women, that’s what I love about Business Chicks. I’ve started a Kickstarter page to cover the initial costs of the boat and swim, and would love to partner with a group that supports women and girls, to help raise their profile.
Want to support Lauren’s swim? Click here for more info, and stay tuned for her documentary!