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How a Shipwreck Changed my Life from a Doctor to Triathlete

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Els Visser is a survivor, Doctor and Ironman champion who pushes herself to the limit with everything she does in her life. Els Visser, 30, was pursuing a course of study to be a doctor when, as she travelled between the islands of Lombok and Flores, Indonesia, the boat she was travelling on sank during the trip of a lifetime in the summer of 2014.

“Everybody awake, hole in boat!” “Very dangerous”

The boat struck a reef on its first night out and fought rough waves, and Els feared for her life. As the boat started to take on water the 20 passengers and 5 crew members took turns in the lifeboat while others treaded water. The capability of the lifeboat was 6 individuals.

Sea to Sky

Els and 4 other passengers decided to swim to the island they spotted after a night of spending time in the water. By adrenaline and absolute determination, Els and 1 more passenger arrived at the volcanic island after a day’s worth of swimming in shark-infested waters. Shortly after, a passing cruise ship picked them up.


Now living in the Netherlands, Els is a survivor, Doctor, speaker and Ironman champion.

“But to become that Ironman champion, I really had to take the courage to carve my own path. The accident in Indonesia in 2014 changed my life in a way I could never have imagined before. In hindsight, there were a lot of decisions I made in order to get a second chance to make the most out of life. I really hope to inspire others with my story to get the most out of life themselves.”

Els Visser


La Galigo

About Author

Kathy is the owner of Kirk Scuba Gear, a passionate Scuba Diver, Ocean Advocate and Managing Editor of The Scuba News Canada

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