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Meet the Inmates - Helen Lin

Monday, September 12, 2016

Role: Director of Sales and Events
Tenure: Since July 2015

This interview took place about 12 hours before Helen boarded a plane to Russia.

Bryan: So Helen, tell us a little bit about what you do here at Improv Asylum and Laugh Boston.

Helen: Well, I am the Director of Sales and Events and what I do is mostly oversee all of the private events at Laugh Boston. So, mostly corporate clients and events.

B: So you’re talking to all the fancy people.

H: Exactly, all the fancy people.

B: And how long have you been here now?

H: I’ve been here just over a year now. It went by so fast!

B: Oh yeah, we actually met at an informal meeting at Rock Bottom. Of all places.

H: (laughter) It’s true.

B: Well, I kind of know what you’re into when you’re not at work, but why don’t you tell us about some of the extreme sports you participate in.

H: Well, I am a marathon swimmer, which is swimming long distances in the ocean. So, technically a marathon swim is anything over a 10K, which is 6.2. miles. So I did a couple of those last year and a few this year as well.  When we do it in the winter time…

B: Wait, you swim in the ocean in the winter?

H: Haha yes, marathon swimming is during the warmer seasons. But in the winter, that’s considered ice swimming. So once the ocean gets too cold to swim marathon lengths, it becomes ice swimming. There is this whole subculture of ice swimmers that probably started in Russia or Finland, and they started with plunges and crazy things like that- 

B: Sure, because, why not?

H: Right, why would you not do that? The only reason I got into that is because I didn’t want the summer to end. I was too stubborn to stop and I was like, well if I don’t stop, summer won’t end. Next thing I know it’s February and we’re still going out for swims like crazy people, and by then, our swimming group was down to like, three of us. And then we found out that there is actually a whole group of people who do this internationally. We were like, wow, we’re not alone or crazy! It’s actually really big in Europe.

B: Well that’s amazing.

H: Yeah! So there are ice swimming competitions all over the world where they just cut a section of ice out of a frozen lake or whatever. Think of a swim meet, except it's in a cut out of a frozen body of water where they put lane lines in, and then you compete.

B: Where’s the farthest-away competition you’ve done?

H: Um, I did one in the UK a couple years ago- and that was a lot of fun. And now I’m going to do one in Russia!

B: Ok, please tell me more about that.

H: Haha, the Russian one was an invite-only one that I got because I’m an ice swimmer and because I’m a member of this club called the Ice Miler club that was started by this group of guys in South Africa. Basically they decided if you could swim one mile in under 41 degree waters, you're a member of the club and they send you this red jacket. So, two people did it in Boston a couple years ago, so my friends and I decided to do it, and we did!

B: You’re a card carrying member of the club!

H: I am!

B: So how did this lead to an invite to Russia?

H: Haha, well I was invited to participate in this thing called the Gulf Stream Festival that’s celebrating the 100th anniversary of the city of Murmansk.  So this festival showcases fifteen different sports all over Murmansk. One of them is actually this guy that’s going to tow a nuclear ice breaker.

B: What?

H: I know! I looked it up, it’s like this huge boat! I was like, what!?

B: Please take pictures.

H: Haha definitely. So there’s a list of these sports, one being the towing of this huge boat, one is like extreme obstacles, one is extreme running, and one is extreme swimming where they invited 40 swimmers from all over the world to showcase. And I’m the only one from the United States!

B: That’s amazing!

H: Yeah! So, I guess I’m representing the US in Russia in this crazy swimming event.

B: That’s really cool. So you’re also into other extreme sports, right?

H: I am! After the marathon swimming I decided I wanted to get into something else as well, so I found rock climbing- which I’m also equally obsessed with.

B: And weren’t you doing parkour for a while? 

H: I still am, I’m just finding that I don’t have enough time.

B: Haha, right. You seem just a little busy.

H: Yeah, I like, have to work sometimes, ya know, haha.  But yeah, I’m trying to balance swimming and rock climbing and parkour lessons at the moment.

B: So what’s the ultimate goal here with doing all these sports?

H: Well, I mean, I’d love to compete for American Ninja Warrior. I mean, the swimming isn’t so much a part of that, but the rock climbing and parkour skills are definitely transferable.

B: When are you going to audition?!

H: Haha well I gotta try out training on one of those sets first!

B: You need to keep us posted when you audition. You’d be the first-

H: The first IA Inmate Ninja Warrior?

B: Oh definitely. I think you’re a lot of firsts for Improv Asylum. First to just randomly get invited to Russia.

H: Haha, yes I’m sure that’s true!

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