WA’s Sean Pollard has one hell of a story to tell.
The conditions were perfect, light offshore and crystal clear water the day Sean Pollard was attacked by two great white sharks while surfing. The West Australian, from Bunbury, was lucky to survive as he fended them off losing his left arm and right hand in the incident.
The day after local schoolteacher and surf coach, Brent Moss, told Tracks several large sharks had been spotted at the break recently and that the mood in the lineup was starting to get a “bit uneasy."
Sean’s life changed forever in a blink of an eye.
“I went on a trip to Esperance with my girlfriend, Claire, and I went out for a surf and didn’t make it back in one piece," Pollard told ABC News.
Fortunately, Sean was able to make it to the hospital within an hour of the attack. When he got seen to in Perth he needed seven blood transfusions, totaling over three litres of blood. To put it into context, the average adult body comprises of approximately 4.5 to 5.5 litres.
Despite enduring such a horrifying event Sean has not let his disability get in the way of living life to the fullest.
“It’s been a fairly steep recovery since then and I’ve learnt a lot about myself and the things I’m capable of,” says the 26-year-old sparky.
In 2015 Sean, the country surfer from Bunbury, wanted to “try something new” and decided to attempt snowboarding. Mind you he’d never seen snow.
“The best thing I get out of snowboarding, which is really similar to surfing, is that presence in the moment,” says Sean.
“You’re really focused as you’re flying down the hill and once you get to the bottom you don’t have to paddle back out — you can just sit on a chairlift and enjoy the ride up.”
“That’s why I love the sport so much because you’re just there in the moment and everything else in your life just blurs out the faster you go.”
Sean’s ascent in the sport has been steep. After a gruelling few months in Europe as part of the Winter Paralympic Games’ qualification process, he has competed in the Netherlands, Finland, USA, Canada, Japan and South Korea.
In February, he was named in the Australian squad and will make his debut in Para-snowboarding March 9. He will compete in the snowboard cross and banked slalom.
“My results are pretty similar in both events but I’ve probably got a bit more of an advantage in the banked slalom, though, because of my surfing background,” says Sean.
“I can’t wait to walk out with my countrymen and be part of the spectacle.”
Despite trading the sun and surf as he chases winter, Sean still has a connection with the ocean and tries to surf, swim and snorkel every chance he gets back home.
“I’ll go out for a surf these days and I’ll be happy to get back to my feet on one wave out of 20 just because it’s so hard to paddle, and push up, and catch a wave,” he says.
Tracks wishes Sean the best of luck as he makes his Paralympic debut.