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Episode 8 | Surfing, Seizures and Safety with Frankie York

Is it safe to surf with epilepsy? How can you support somebody who has seizures in the water? And do surfing instructors know how to help someone with epilepsy? In this episode, Frankie York takes us through some of her own experiences surfing with epilepsy, and how having epilepsy affects her relationships with other surfers.

Surfing is classified as a top tier extreme sport, with inherent danger and a need to be aware and alert at all times. But it is also a sport recognised for the therapeutic benefits, and the sense of escapism being in the water can provide. Frankie found a passion for surfing when she was travelling in Ecuador. Over the last 2 years, she has had to explore her relationship with the sport, and examine how to stay safe.

And she has also had to explore and examine the relationships she has with her fellow surfers, who have supported her through her epilepsy journey.

In this episode, Frankie talks to three surfers: Simon, who runs her local surf school; Jessie, who was the former Vice President at their University surf society; and Zim, a good friend who supported Frankie with surfing, and with her seizures.

They talked about:

  • The requirements for becoming a International Surfing Association (ISA) qualified instructor

  • How much responsibility should friends of surfers with epilepsy take?

  • Responsibility in a more formal organisational manner

  • What goes into planning a surf trip

  • The accessibility of surfing when you have additional needs or safety concerns

  • The type of emergency training surf instructors undertake

  • Risk assessments from a professional point of view

  • What organisers do to help 'high risk' people and what worst case scenario plans are

  • How it feels to support a friend with epilepsy

  • What Frankie's surfer friends would like people with epilepsy to know

Plus we hear a bit more about Frankie's backstory and when she started having seizures, and balancing her passion for surfing.

CONTENT WARNING: We talk about some close calls with surfing, and the potential consequences of having a seizure in water.

CONTENT WARING 2: There is a small swearword.

Disclaimer: Please remember this is Frankie' personal experience. We take no responsibility for individual decisions made with regards to adventure sports or medical conditions.

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I am working to try and get accurate transcripts for all the Seize Your Adventure episodes. In the meantime, you can find most episodes on YouTube for auto transcription.

A smiling Frankie holds her teal surfboard and stands in front of a teal shed.
A smiling Frankie holds her teal surfboard and stands in front of a teal shed. Text over says 'Surfing, Seizures and Safety'.

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