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Coach Al Lyman – “My destiny is to help empower other people”

Al_Lyman2What gets you out of bed in the morning? What drives you to do what you do so well?

Trying to make a living! In all seriousness, for a very long time, I have believed that my destiny in this life is to help empower other people to see the greatest inside of them. It comes out of my own experiences, when you overcome obstacles and meet challenges, you realize there is more inside of you than you knew; you believe more in yourself. I think that’s what drives me serving as a coach and business owner. I have been put here to help others see that in themselves.

As you get into the ranks of the everyday athlete, and reach further out to athletes with disabilities, what you see is this “hero’s journey”…people who find their “best selves” in sport; they’re recreating themselves, they’re using sport as a vehicle to improve, to reach further.

Even wider than triathlon, sport is really a microcosm of life. It really is about this “hero’s journey,” finding the greatness within, the resilience, and realizing how amazing you really are.

I experienced a near-death experience as a child (almost drowned). I taught myself to swim. I went all the way to Ironman. I am very proud of that journey.

Every person I have met on the course has a story, a powerful story that drives them. That’s what drives me. On some level, I have discovered a passion to try to help others be better. It just flows out of me, a desire to help, and a desire to share. Everything I have learned, I want to give it away. I really learned this from Rob (Vasa founder), who is always, always giving everything that he is, and everything that he has to help people be their best. He really is an inspiration for me.

What is your proudest achievement?

I have never been asked that. And I’ve never really thought about it!

As an athlete, qualifying for Hawaii and finishing Hawaii is my unequivocally proudest achievement because of what it represented, which is: being the best that I could be.

As a human being, my proudest “achievement” is my two children. I am most proud of who they are as people, as young adults, how they represent themselves in the world.

Interestingly, when I think about the 30 years I have been an endurance athlete, I am very proud of the money I have raised to give back to my community through my training and racing.

For a long time, pursuing my goals sometimes felt selfish to me. So I took it upon myself to raise money for charity and try to give back in some way. I did a lot of work for a variety of charities. Then, I brought that work home to my local area and started an endowment fund, for seriously ill, disabled and disadvantaged kids. The Pursuit Fitness Childrens Fund, exists inside of The Community Foundation of Eastern Connecticutwhich has been in existence for 15 years. It has put so much purpose and passion into my athletic pursuits. You get so much when you give. If I disappeared from this Earth, I know that would continue to serve our community and our kids. That is very rewarding to me.

For example, we gave $3500 to the local chapter of Girls on the Run, an absolutely amazing nationwide organization of volunteer women coaches and trainers working with young girls teaching them with life skills. That is a great example of the immensely rewarding work we do.

As a coach, a lot of injured athletes come to me for coaching. There is this woman, Colleen Alexander, who was run over by a multi-ton Freightliner. Colleen was in a coma for over five weeks. Her story of survival is just simply incredible. She has had 20 or so surgeries. And now she is competing. That is so inspiring to me, and gives me so much strength and purpose.

How would you explain the Vasa brand in a few sentences? What does it mean to you?

When I think about Vasa, I think about Rob. He is the brains and the vision. He is so inspiring to me. He is all about giving back. That is inextricably linked to how I feel about the brand.

I remember my first exposure to a Vasa Trainer, one of the things I learned, is that no matter how efficient I was, if I did not have propulsive force, I would not go anywhere. And I would feel like I was drowning.

Body position is important. But technique and the ability to generate propulsion, the body positioning followed.

So, on a practical level, Vasa gave me the freedom to have strength, efficiency and confidence. How many brands out there have such incredible tools that they make you feel strong, efficient and confident? The product makes good on the brand promise. That’s so rare.

And, Vasa is a company that represents the way the brain learns skills! I saw Vasa as a way to build these skills out of the water. This is not supposed to replace swimming. This is how you learn a skill to apply in the pool to become a better, stronger swimmer. It enhances how you learn. It’s very powerful.

What one thing would you like to leave the world knowing? In other words, how would you want the world to remember you?

I think there is way, way too few honest people in the world today.

If I was gone tomorrow, I would like to be remembered as someone who deeply cared about others and lived with honesty, integrity and character—and embodies what that means.

To learn more about Coach Al, visit:

This interview is part of the Vasa Ripple Effect campaign which strikes to the very heart of what gets us out of bed in the morning to do the sports we love. We want the Vasa community to share, connect and live better lives. At Vasa, we believe in “the power of why.” We believe people can achieve the extraordinary when they know and live their why. And, we believe that if people share ‘why’ they do their sport, it will make them better athletes & coaches—and thus, better people—which produces a positive ripple effect on othersWith that, we invite you to join the new Vasa community by liking us on Facebook and following us on Twitter. Connect with like-minded people, share your Why—and experience the #VasaRippleEffect!