Coralie Balmy is an Olympian, ecologist, freestyle swimmer and ocean lover since birth. Her home and memories are intertwined with the marine environment. Before there were competitions, medals and awards, there was a childhood on the island of Martinique, where Coralie’s earliest swimming mentors traveled in pods and communicated through clicks and whistles. An innate love of the water and a talent for moving through it has shaped the life aquatic of this French athlete. So has a driving passion to protect it.
On the release of the latest adidas x Parley swimwear collection, we asked Coralie to reflect on what draws her to the blue.
What shaped your love for the oceans?
My island Martinique. I was born in an amazing environment and I used to dive and swim in the ocean since I was a young girl.
Did the oceans influence your passion for swimming?
Yes, I think so. 'I love swimming, so I love the ocean' in the same way that 'I love the ocean, so I love swimming.' I was snorkeling before I knew how to swim.
“As a Creole, I think that my connection with the ocean is very particular. Swimming in a swimming pool with no walls... it’s so big. It’s so amazing. It’s so 'wow'. Each time I swim in the ocean, I’m always like a child.”
What inspired you to pursue a career in marine biology?
As a passionate diver I was noting the bad health of the ocean and I was very sad not to act the way I wanted to. The more I was diving and reading things, the more I wanted to pursue a career of marine biology. I love the oceans and I want now to dedicate my life to their protection.
When did you first learn or notice the oceans are under threat from marine plastic pollution and other human-driven impacts?
It was when I was snorkeling in the ocean in Martinique… I was looking for sea turtles in a place where the ships anchor and despite looking for the animals, I went back to the beach with a full bag of plastic waste.
Have you witnessed specific changes in the marine environment of your hometown?
Yes I have. People in my hometown don’t dive or don’t snorkel so they cannot see the impact of their pollution on the ocean. The marine environment needs to be known and to be explored by them, this is one of my long-term objectives.
How do you try to inspire change and bring the Parley AIR Strategy into your everyday life?
I aim to inspire change and adopt the Parley AIR Strategy by acting: Avoid, Intercept and Redesign. To show people that it is possible to protect the ocean in a simple way. To intervene in classrooms and teach the young generation that it is important to take care of our environment. And of course, to do things by myself to set an example for all the people I know or don’t know.
My long-term objectives will follow the Parley AIR Strategy.
Who is your ocean hero?
My ocean hero is someone who has a total harmony in their way of life with nature — so all the people who directly or indirectly protect marine life. I don’t have someone in mind particularly, just the ocean lovers.
If you were a sea creature, you’d probably be a...
Humpback whale! Because I am calm, I am a traveller, and I am curious!