Sean Conway is an adventurer and extreme endurance athlete. In 2015, Sean became the first and only person in history to complete the Great British Triathlon: cycling, swimming and then running the length of Britain from Land’s End to John O’Groats. (The swim was considered impossible and had never been attempted.) With an adventure documentary by Discovery and considerable media interest, Sean and his trademark beard had arrived.
In 2016, Sean took on an even bigger challenge: a self-supported continuous Ultra Triathlon around the coast of Britain. Sean cycled 3,350 miles, ran 800 miles and swam from Brighton to Lulworth Cove to complete the coastal route. Discovery Channel followed Sean’s incredible challenge to produce a three-part TV series: On the Edge. This challenge was the world’s longest ultra triathlon.
In 2018, Sean became the fastest person ever to cycle the 4000 miles across Europe from Portugal to Russia, solo and unsupported. Sean is now a hugely popular endurance athlete known for pushing his limits on unsupported challenges and the considerable public support he receives, particularly via social media, makes a real difference.
Although now well-known for his quirky take on endurance sports and adventures, Sean came to the UK in 2002 with just £100 in his wallet and started working in Cambridge cutting 12,000 cabbages a day. Later, having made his living as a photographer, Sean sold his business for £1 knowing he had to take a risk and change his life and its purpose. He found he had a talent for setting and reaching outrageous adventure goals. As Sean would put it, he found his beard.
Sean is passionate about encouraging others to take on a challenge and live life more adventurously. He tailors each talk and his messages are built around his own unique perspective on courage, resilience, challenge and a call to action – to Find Your Beard. (Beard is an archaic verb meaning to boldly confront or challenge). Sean knows what it takes to tackle seemingly impossible goals, develop resilience when it gets tough, and stay motivated for the long haul despite disappointment, injury and set-backs. Sean’s own story of how he ‘found his beard’ is entertaining, life affirming and inspirational.
Sean’s development into an endurance adventurer was neither easy nor straight forward. Sean’s first challenge was an attempt to break the world record for cycling around the world. After three weeks, Sean was ahead of schedule averaging 180 miles a day. His dreams were shattered in America when a driver hit him causing severe whiplash, concussion, torn ligaments and a compression fracture to his spine. Despite this, Sean continued, dropping his daily mileage and changing his goal to get back to London in time for the Olympics and raise money for charity. He made it back with one week to spare, having covered 16,000 miles – 12,000 of these miles with an injured spine.
Looking for his next adventure, Sean wanted to prove that he could achieve a world record and he decided on an attempt to become the first person in history to swim the length of Great Britain. Everyone told him it was impossible. Yet despite numerous set-backs and battling the weather, dangerous currents and huge numbers of jellyfish, Sean (and his legendary beard) emerged from the sea and wrote history on 11 November 2013 after 135 days and an extraordinary 900-mile swim. It remains one of the great endurance swims of the century.
Having cycled the 1,300 mile Land’s End to John O’Groats route in 2008 and completed the swim, the next leg was daunting to a self-confessed non-runner. On a second attempt, Sean completed the final leg, running 1,014 miles in 44 days to officially complete the first ever Ultimate British Triathlon. The resulting documentary on Discovery Channel won Sean many new fans for his courage and humour: as several newspaper headlines put it, Britain now had its own inspiring Forrest Gump.
Sean continues to place himself outside of his comfort zone. In December 2015, Sean Conway teamed up with his good friend yachtsman Phil Sharp to set a new world record for the fastest sail of Britain from Lands End to John O’Groats. The team set out on 11 December and completed the sail onboard a Class 40 race yacht in 83 hours and 53 minutes.
The British Ultra Triathlon around the coast of mainland Britain followed and this was more than 4,000 miles – the equivalent distance of London to New Delhi. Sean began his challenge in April 2016 following the coastline for 3,350 miles on a bamboo bike from Lulworth Cove to Scarborough via the beautiful yet physically unforgiving Welsh and Scottish coastlines. He swopped his bike for trainers and continued by running 800 miles from Scarborough to Brighton before starting his final leg in the water and swimming back to Lulworth Cove. Sean dragged a self-made raft containing what he needed to sustain him as he swam through some of the busiest parts of the British coastline. Discovery Channel‘s three-part series on TV about Sean’s self-supported continuous Ultra Triathlon recorded the highs and lows as Sean circumnavigated the entire coast of mainland Britain.
Sean has written several books about his adventures including Hell and High Water: One Man’s Attempt to Swim the Length of Britain.
Sean’s talks are memorable and entertaining. He delivers powerful messages around setting outrageous goals, coping with setbacks, maintaining a positive attitude and staying motivated when it gets tough, using social media to develop support for his extreme adventures and succeeding against the odds.
To book leadership speaker,Sean Conway as the keynote speaker for your corporate event, function or conference, simply contact the Champions Speakers agency by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling a booking agent directly on 0207 1010 553.
‘The audience LOVED it! I have had nothing but great feedback, he was honest, amusing and entertaining. I cannot think how he could have been better. We really enjoyed him coming along and talking to us.’
‘We’ve had some really positive feedback from the team about Sean’s talk. It was very inspiring to hear about his adventures and I think a lot of us are now considering how we can start to live life to the full a bit more!’
‘Sean was a fantastic speaker at our company-wide annual off-site. His enthusiasm and energy are infectious and people can’t help but be motivated by his achievements. Sean also effectively links in key themes that the business is working on – so that his talk is both inspirational and relevant. Thoroughly recommended.’
L3 Commercial Training Solutions
‘We had a great talk. Our staff were really enthused by Sean. We’ve had loads of positive feedback. He was funny, engaging and, of course, really inspiring and it all tied back in really well with our values campaign.’
Mizuho Financial Group
‘I am writing to thank you on behalf of our Senior Leaders for your inspiring presentation to us. Everyone who saw and heard you enjoyed it immensely but did question your sanity for taking on such extreme challenges! I know that you will have inspired many of us to take up challenges either in a professional or personal capacity and indeed we will inspire others to do so as a result of your presentation.
‘The theme of the presentation was personal resilience and you showed us that taking it one step at a time really helps to focus on the immediate challenge and that helps to build endurance. You also showed us that failure is not an inhibitor but a motivator to succeed and to aim high.’
West Yorkshire Police
‘Sean was fantastic! Proper gent and delivered a fantastic talk, it was really great that he spent time afterwards talking with us and having a few drinks. Will recommend to everyone.’
‘Please pass on our thanks to Sean for his brilliant talk. I loved his relaxed and funny manner. My business partner loved it too and I have heard only positive comments from the attendees. The audience certainly kept him busy afterwards with questions and photo opportunities and he has, without doubt, expanded his fan base.’
Expo 2016: Marathon des Sables
‘Sean has an amazing story to tell and he delivers messages and inspiration that work both at a personal and business level. He was willing to adapt his storytelling to fit our specific audience and it made for engaging and entertaining session.’
Sky Media (Head Marketing)
‘We have asked Sean to speak to a number of different audiences and have found him to be inspirational to a wide range of people – from staff to business owners to entrepreneurs.
‘His attitude is so inspiring and he refuses to let anything get in his way – determined to achieve his goals, despite the many barriers put in his way. His exploits are amazing and he delivers his stories in a very amusing and natural way – you can’t help but like him and be amazed at what he has achieved. And he is very real, open and honest about his adventures and the setbacks along the way.
‘He tailored talks to meet our objectives, seamlessly absorbing our messages into his stories and providing inspiration and motivation to change, to develop and to grow. There was no fuss – he simply told the stories of his adventures in a way that made them accessible and achievable and inspired the audience to focus and deliver. Brilliant!’
Corporate Communications, Ordnance Survey
‘I just wanted to say a massive thank you to Sean for being part of this year’s Peebles Outdoor Film Festival. His presentation on Friday night was a perfect start to the festival, and was commented on by many people throughout the weekend. I hope he enjoyed it as much as everyone in the audience did (and I KNOW he enjoyed the snow biking the following day!)
Peebles Outdoor Film Festival
‘Sean was a pleasure to work with and he was really well received by our audience.’
‘Sean’s talk about his John O’Groats swim kept an audience of 500 enthralled from start to finish. His down to earth manner and can do attitude were truly inspiring and he left many in the audience thinking about how to challenge themselves and achieve something that they didn’t think they were capable of.’
Youth Philanthropy Initiative
‘It was a pleasure to have Sean with us. For inspiring the audience to think about Challenging Situations & to Not to Give Up – he certainly did that very well. We got feedback from people, who said that they enjoyed his presentation very much.”
Career Academies UK
“The keynote speaker was Sean Conway, who swam the length of Britain – a mere 900 miles! – in 2013. Sean was very enthusiastic and inspirational and I am sure he did awaken the spirit of adventure in many in the audience. Sean’s mottos ‘don’t be scared of falling’ and ‘aim higher’ resonated well with the ethos of the YPI and he made us all realise that with will, determination, focus and self-belief we can reach our goals in life.”
‘A true inspiration to us! From an academic view point, the talk was well constructed and great detail was made to show the most exciting and jaw-dropping tales from a young man’s youth.’
I really enjoyed Sean’s lecture – he is so full of energy and passion for his adventures. It all seemed to go well and plenty of people were there to hear him. Many thanks and please pass on my best wishes and congratulations for a great evening. I will look out for his book!”