Lilly Pollard: Not Just Another Bodyboarder
With Lilly Pollard, you’re not just going to see a couple of barrels and flips she charges waves bigger and more fierce than most surfers. She’s a vibrant country girl from Kiama south of Sydney where the waves are many and the people are few. There are secret spots that pump hard and you can bet Lilly will be out there in the line up with the boys, absolutely going for broke.
Speaking of broke, this world touring bodyboarder had an unfortunate accident earlier this year and despite the doom and gloom of an athletes worst nightmare Lilly worked her butt off to make it back on tour in time for the next event at full fitness and strength.
We thought it was about time we introduced Lilly she’s an incredible human being and inspiration to mermaids everywhere…
“Wow! Life is crazy sometimes!” begins Lilly… “I had just returned from Hawaii after attaining my life dream of winning Pipeline. I was surfing my local beach break (Mystics in Kiama), and just pulled into a barrel and the wave flipped me ferociously and smacked my head straight into the sandbar. The pain down my neck and back was so intense and I immediately knew something was really wrong. Luckily I had some friends there with me who helped me out of the water and got a lovely helicopter ride to hospital.”
“I broke the C5 in my neck and suffered compression fractures from my T1 to T6 down my back. I was incredibly lucky my spinal cord wasn’t damaged, but it meant four months out of the water recuperating. I took the time to rest, relax, and eat all the right foods for healing bones and muscles. Then I started physio and slowly back into my training program. I just feel so incredibly lucky to be walking, and now surfing again!”
After such a horrific and nearly career ending injury Lilly was determined to listen to her body and make sure everything repaired just as prescribed. She talked to all the professionals in every area to keep her on track and made sure even the foods she was eating would aid her recovery. Physically she kept her body stretched and fit and has said The Boogerbod program was a major asset in building the optimum strength and flexibility to get Lilly back on her board.
Living on the meters from the beach meant Lilly had the horizon and roar of the ocean as her permanent inspiration to take her recovery seriously and not lose sight of the big picture. She says “I would get up and sit on the beach and watch the sunrise each morning and be thankful for everything I had, I went for daily beach walks and then as I grew stronger I began swimming out the front each day building my back strength, and making it fun by taking my GoPro out and getting some cool water photos!” Before long she was just a couple of weeks from being back on her board… There was the shining light!
Finally, she was back … “That first barrel back, I still remember it clearly, I was screaming! It felt amazing! I’m also super stoked I was able to land a few ARS’s (Air Roll Spins) not long after returning to the water, I’m surprised at how fresh I’m feeling!”
Lilly has been bodyboarding for more than half her life, and at the age of 33 she’s more stoked than ever to have the ocean as such an integrated part of her life. She says “My brothers got me into bodyboarding. I’m a Pisces so of course I loved it, it was such a natural progression from being in the water swimming all the time, to jumping on a bodyboard. I was absolutely terrible at it at first, and my brother’s made it clear how bad I was, but I loved it, and through that love I guess I ended up pretty good at it! North Central Coast Bodyboarders was my club, and I still have the best memories from spending time with those guys and progressing my bodyboarding.”
Prior to last week’s 2nd world tour event Lilly was at the top of the ladder after winning at Pipe. She’s got a head start to taking the world title for 2014 and a lot of spirit and positivity keeping her pumped. “All I have to do is just keep winning! I’m sounding like Dory I know, but I like her philosophies, just keep swimming and then hopefully winning! But really, whatever happened, I’m going to be happy. It’s good to be here!”
There are countries in the world that are as obsessed with bodyboarding as Coolangatta is with surfing, it’s hard to believe that Australia had a massive bodyboard industry in the 80s and 90s but it’s popularity is on the increase once again. Japan and Brasil have a plethora of extremely talented riders Lilly says “they both seem to have great coaching programs and junior events, which I think is lacking in Australia. I need to pull my finger out and get back into coaching and developing the women’s sport in Australia, we’re a bit behind.”
Australia is an island with tens of thousands of amazing surf breaks, bodyboarders can surf most of them but surely there has to be the epic, ultimate and for Lilly it’s Aussie Pipe, just up the road from her. “It’s such an incredible wave for bodyboarding. It’s a perfect barrel with a killer ramp on the end for airs, just built for bodyboarding. I go down there all the time, even when the conditions don’t look great, just to try and score it, and if it’s not working, I’m still completely happy because it’s situated in Jervis Bay which is so incredibly beautiful and full of epic Aussie wildlife and walking tracks. If there’s no waves I go explore! It’s such a dream place.”
Bodyboarding is such an amazing beach sport perfectly suited to girls who love the beach, hanging out and catching waves “Just do it girls, join a club! It’s just so much fun, and you’ll find even if your girlfriends don’t want to join you, the boys are all really so super supportive and so much fun! Bodyboarding is the best thing I ever did for myself.”