The story of the passionate surfer with a rare disease

March 6, 2015 | Surfing
Delphine Besson: inspired by surfing

Delphine Besson is a Swiss surfer. She's special. Not because she comes from a landlocked country, but because she has a rare disease.

When you go to bed, and you don't know how you'll feel the next day, you must value life. That is the story of Delphine, born in 1983 in Sri Lanka, and adopted by Swiss citizens when she was only 45 days old.

Besson learned to surf when she was able to travel on her own. Rapidly, the sport of riding waves became a passion. Unfortunately, in June 2014, her body started shaking all the time. Doctors diagnosed her with a rare neurologic disease.

Simple things such as walking or picking up objects are incredibly difficult for Delphine Besson because she lacks muscle control. In order to perform simple movements, Delphine needs to be very focused. These limitations become very painful and tiring. However, surfing is always on her mind.

"It's crazy because I didn't get the chance to surf or see the ocean since I was diagnosed this disease, but I'm sure it is [good for overcoming the disease]. My weeks are all the same: doctors, physio, physio in the water, and sometimes I want to give up," admits Besson.

"But then I say to myself: 'Ok, you have to keep fighting, because if you want to travel again, surf again, play with dolphins in the ocean, you have to do it.' I have no choice. Every day I think about my next trip, my next wave, and it has helped me move on."

Delphine Besson: smile, you're a surfer

When Delphine was a kid, she was afraid of the water. Today, the young fighter feels better underwater. It is "the only place where my body doesn't 'shake' and I stay calm." But Delphine keeps inspired by the surf because "you paddle so hard to catch the wave, and then you feel something powerful raising you and you realize you've caught it."

Inspired by Slater, Fitzgibbons, Buitendag and Hamilton

Besson's favorite surfers are Kelly Slater, Sally Fitzgibbons, Bianca Buitendag, and Bethany Hamilton. The Hawaiian surfer is her most inspirational person because she found the strength to fight and be able to surf again, even with only one arm.

"I learned from her that everything is possible if you really want it. Her philosophy helps me a lot these days. I may do not know what my disease is doing to my body, but no matters what, I'll be always able to realize my dreams," explains Delphine.

"Maybe not the way that I wanted it, but it doesn't matter. She shows me that everything happens for a reason. I got the chance to meet her with Alana Blanchard in Hawaii, and she sent me a video message for my birthday. I watch it a lot; it sends me some good vibes. Same with the video from Bianca."

So, what does the future hold for Delphine Besson? The Swiss surfer says, "it's difficult for me to plan something because I don't know how I'll feel the next day. I can't project myself too far. I have to live day by day, and it's not easy for me, I'm a dreamer."

Meanwhile, Delphine will stay positive. She plans to travel the world in search of perfect waves and do humanitarian work. "Maybe one day I won't be able to do it, and I don't want to live with regrets." uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. Learn more on our About section.