Former Yale Swimmer Colin O’Brady Completes ‘Impossible First’

Whether it life as a high-level competitive swimmer that prepared Colin O’Brady for his journey, or whether the two had similar grounding in some innate quality, the former Yale swimmer on Wednesday completed a journey that will go on the record as one of the greatest feats of individual human endurance in history.

O’Brady has spent the last 54 days on a 930-mile (1,500 kilometer) solo trek across Antarctica, in what has been deemed as the Impossible First.

When Sir Vivian Fuchs and Sir Edmund Hillary completed their first trans-Antarctic Expedition lasted 3 years from 1955-1958, and included a large support team travelling in 6 vehicles.

And O’Brady did the crossing the hard way – nearly the entire journey was uphill, and he made the whole trip without any assistance, on foot, pulling a sleight that contained his necessary gear.

The 33-year old graduated from Yale in 2006 with a degree in economics before immediately embarking upon a backpacking trip around the world, which launched his love for incredible endurance adventures, which included receiving 2nd and 3rd degree burns in 2008 when participating in a local custom of fire jump-roping on the island of Koh Tao.

After a career as a commodities trader and long rehab, he began triathlon training, and eventually became an accomplished triathlete. He would eventually qualify for the 2010 World Triathlon Championships in Budapest, Hungary, which launched his career as a professional athlete. He’s since expanded his triathlons into more endurance events, such as his latest trek.

At Yale, O’Brady was a breaststroker, with lifetimes bests of 58.34 and 2:07.06 in the 100 and 200 yard distances, respectively.

O’Brady isn’t the only swimmer to make news in Antarctica this month: Diego Lopez swam the Antarctic Kilometer, which wrapped his 2018 goal of finishing a major open water swim on each continent.

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Day 49: PEACEFUL WARRIOR. When I was 9 years old, my Mom read aloud to me the book The Way of the Peaceful Warrior by Dan Millman @danmillmanpw . It was a seminal moment for me that continues to have deep ripple effects on my life today. I woke up to the wind storm still hammering my tent, but the peaceful warrior that lives inside of me was also awakened. Immediately as I opened my eyes and unzipped my sleeping bag, a deep strength overcame me and I knew today would be special, despite the constant 40mph wind gusts and -25 temperature. I tapped into one of the deepest flow states of my life for the next 13 hours and made my furthest distance of the entire expedition. 33.1 miles!! It’s amazing tapping into this deep inner peace and strength, but let me be clear; I am not unique in this ability. We all have reservoirs of untapped potential and our bodies and spirits are capable of so much more than lies on the surface. Believe that the next time you need more strength than you think you have, it’s inside of you. I promise. #TheImpossibleFirst #letsbepossibletogether

A post shared by Colin O'Brady (@colinobrady) on

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Stan Crump

HA HA. No kidding……!


breaststroke is more legs than arms, and breaststroke kick uses lower leg muscles and ankle more similar to walking/running uphill than other strokes. so I guess it actually make sense.



Steve Nolan

lol, burning myself on the jump ropes on Koh Tao isn’t something I’d tell people.

If you wanna read about another similar adventurer, may I recommend spending a few hours with this:

About Braden Keith

Braden Keith

Braden Keith is the Editor-in-Chief and a co-founder of He first got his feet wet by building The Swimmers' Circle beginning in January 2010, and now comes to SwimSwam to use that experience and help build a new leader in the sport of swimming. Aside from his life on the InterWet, …

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