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Despite Losing His Right Leg in a Terrifying Shark Attack, Surfer’s Bizarre Turnaround Story Gets International Acclaim

Published 05/27/2023, 11:15 AM EDT

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Shark attacks have been associated with surfing and surfers for a long time now. And yet, those who dare to chase their dreams on top of those waves, have barely allowed it to stop them from going into the water. Some stories are even more inspirational, where the surfers have successfully embraced life after braving such a vicious and life-threatening attack. One such story belongs to surfing great Caleb Swanepoel who lost one of his legs in a shark attack in 2016. Today, his comeback story is the story of a documentary film that’s up at an International festival.

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In 2015, Swanepoel was surfing in the waters of Buffels Bay with both his brothers by his side. Right at this point, Swanepoel spotted a Great White Shark in the distance. In no time, all three of them swam as fast as they could towards the beach, but Swanepoel couldn’t make it in time. 7 years later, he rebuilt his life after that incident and it is truly an inspiring story for all.

An inspirational tale for every surfing lover, and a huge honor for Swanepoel


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Capetown etc reports the short film titled ‘And Yet I Remain’ is directed by Rick Wall and Dougal Paterson, and it traces the journey of Swanepoel from the day he got bit by a Great White Shark and lost his right leg forever, to this day when he got back on his legs and took hold of his life again. His resilience, his determination, his courage, and his willpower are all that make up the crux of the thrilling and inspiring short film.

Swanepoel was in his early 20s when this life-altering incident happened. It took time for him to adapt to reality, but firstly, to fathom the experience he’s had to deal with. After months of enduring pain, and years of convincing himself of another shot at life, he embarked on a journey of freediving.


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The movie starts off with his experience right after the incident, which showed him adapting to crutches and having a brief 10-day stint at a hospital. About to be premiered at the Mountainfilm festival, it just shows how far can one man’s fight for life and journey toward excellence lead him despite any amount of hurdles.


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A slew of victories for Caleb Swanepoel preceded his accident

The film also shows how Swanepoel slowly but steadily gets back to his normal life, however, with a changed perspective. He cares about the little things way more now and doesn’t always chase victories at any cost. Swanepoel has had a chance to introspect his life from a different lens, and finally embrace freediving. Something that gave him that solace and peace he now desires. But he was not always this person.


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Caleb Swanepoel won the South African Para Surfing championships four times, won the Western Province Para-Surfing Championship twice, and as if one sport wasn’t enough for him, he also won the National Para-Swimming Championship. Entering into the top 3 at South Africa Adaptive Crossfit Open, which is extremely competitive, also wasn’t amiss. Swanepoel was living his dream at a young age when things took a turn. But today, he is grateful to have come this far after the incident and to have his film premiere at a major film festival.

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Written by:

Tanmay Roy


One take at a time

Tanmay Roy is a sports writer at EssentiallySports specializing in his coverage of the Olympics and other major American sporting events. His passion for sports was ignited by the early achievements of Michael Phelps, Pete Sampras, and John McEnroe. As a writer for EssentiallySports, Tanmay's articles have been recognized as Editor's Picks, showcasing his ability to craft engaging and thought-provoking stories.
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Edited by:

Anupama Ghosh