Brian and Lili Lillie: Odyssey Swimmer Profile


“I don't know what I'd do without Odyssey, I picked up open-water swimming at age 48 and don't plan to stop, ever!” -- Brian Lillie

In the new Odyssey Swimmer Profile series, we will be highlighting our athletes, sharing their tips and experience, and giving you insight on why they love open water swimming. We recently had the opportunity to speak with Brian and Lili Lillie, a fantastic couple that joins us regularly for swims.


Why They Swim in the Open Water

Brian, who has been on over 200 swims with Odyssey Open Water, swims in the open with due to the numerous benefits. He swims for:

  • Fitness

  • Adventure

  • Overcoming fear

  • Meditation

  • And to experience a variety of weather/water conditions

When asked why she enjoys swimming with Odyssey, Lili says that it’s the camaraderie, safety, and guidance on swim technique that bring her out, along with giving her a reason to swim. Lili is also preparing for an upcoming 70.3-mile triathlon (Half Ironman), which includes a 1.2-mile swim. “Odyssey has been very helpful in helping me overcome my fear of open water swimming,” says Lili.

Out of the Water

Out of the water, Brian is a proud husband, father, business owner, and an athlete. Lili is just as busy, managing a children’s triathlon, serving as a Girl Scout Leader, volunteering for a 5k fun run to benefit at-risk youth, managing social media for the Wine Country Tour de Cure and much more.


Tips for Swimming in the Open Water  

When asked for their best tips for fellow swimmers braving the open waters, Brian and Lili say:

  • Brian: “Start slow, do comfortable distances, get the right gear for comfort.  Use earplugs and nose clip if the water creates after-swim irritations.”

  • Lili: “Make sure ALL your equipment is packed and feels comfortable BEFORE the swim. If you are renting a wetsuit, try it on and move your arms around to make sure it's not too tight (sizes can be misleading). Try your goggles out in the pool before the open water.”

Lili also added a tip she picked up from Odyssey’s Megan Tobin, who is also a triathlon coach. “Breathe out underwater so you can take more air in when you come up for air, that was a huge thing for me as well as doing a full "putting change in your pocket" stroke, thanks to Megan!”

Every athlete has their own routine before and after a long swim. Brian enjoys winding down on the drive to Berkeley and Lili stays away from drinking too much coffee before the swim. After their done, it’s all about brunch!

Swimming in Pairs

Participating in activities with your spouse instead of doing them alone is bound to change the experience. “Mostly, it's more fun,” says Brian. “If one of the couple is having issues, they can support each other.” Brian also says that each swim is fun to discuss afterward. Lili is appreciative of his support, loves cheering him on during Odyssey Alcatraz swims, and enjoys when the two bring props to take fun buoy selfies on the GoPro camera. “It's great to do something active that we both enjoy, and see each other's progress,” says Lili.

Final Thoughts

The two athletes still have a lot they want to accomplish, both on their own and together. Brian states that he wants to complete the Odyssey Bridge to Bridge swim (6.2 miles) and a Half Ironman. Lili would like to trim time off of her swim in triathlons.

“The support I've received from Odyssey has been essential to getting over my open water trepidation. The leaders of the swim have all been so kind and patient with me, offering great tips and easing my worries. I strongly recommend swimming with Odyssey if you are training for a triathlon or just want a great, fun swim experience.”

We would like to thank Brian and Lili for championing open water swimming, for joining us on hundreds of swims, and for sharing their experience and tips with us.

Interested in giving Odyssey Open Water Swimming a try? Join us on an upcoming Berkeley swim. Learn more here.