Daisy Ridley dives into how an Olympic medalist helped her train for ‘Young Woman and the Sea'

Siobhan-Marie O'Connor coached Ridley up for her role as Gertrude Ederle

NBCUniversal Media, LLC

Daisy Ridley has already been trained in the force, but she has now mastered another domain with the help of an Olympic medalist.

The "Star Wars" actress went from a galaxy far, far away to open water for her newest movie, "Young Woman and the Sea," in which Ridley plays Gertrude Ederle, an Olympic champion and the first woman to swim the English Channel.

To prepare for the role, Ridley got a hand from Siobhan-Marie O'Connor. The former English swimmer turned swimming coach earned a silver medal in the 200m individual relay at the 2016 Rio Olympics, setting a national record in the process.

"Siobhan is such an angel," Ridley said in an exclusive interview with NBC. "She was such an integral part of the filming process, even outside of training us because we became really good friends, too. She was just an unwavering support system."

O'Connor wanted Ridley to dip her toes in the training process before diving into the proverbial deep end, and it all began with the fundamentals.

"Initially, when we first started training together, I wanted to focus on Daisy's technique," O'Connor said. "Making sure it was going to be as efficient as possible to be able to withstand endurance swimming. She really focused on trying to be as efficient as possible in the water."

As Ridley improved, O'Connor took her out of her comfort zone. While Ridley wore goggles for much of her training, they weren't a luxury Ederle had when she competed at the Olympics in Paris 100 years ago. That created another obstacle for Ridley once she got into the sea.

"That was a bit of a panicky moment," Ridley said. "When you get to a point of proficiency and you think, 'I can do this with all of these things as they are,' and then one of those things is taken away and you have this moment of 'I actually don't know that I can do this,' particularly in the sea. Doing the swim without goggles was a lot more daunting than doing it with."

While O'Connor was coaching Ridley, another swimmer took it upon himself to give pointers to the former Olympian. Ridley recounted an instance where she and O'Connor were training in a pool when another swimmer approached and tried to man-splain technique to O'Connor.

"I went, 'She's an Olympian!'" Ridley said. "And I thought, 'Of course. Of course someone who hasn't been asked is coming over and giving your opinion on an Olympian training me. Siobhan took it in really good grace."

"Young Woman and the Sea" is out now, and with the U.S. Olympic Swim Trials around the corner and the 2024 Paris Olympics beginning next month, Ridley has gained a brand new appreciation for what O'Connor Ederle and other competitive swimmers are able to accomplish in the water.

"I think it's given me more respect than ever that people commit their lives to something that, honestly, often is such a short amount of time," Ridley said. "It's also wonderful to watch from dry land and go, 'Well done, guys! Glad I'm not in there.'"

As she prepares to compete at the Paris Olympics, gold medal-winning swimmer Lydia Jacoby joins Chef Kévin D’Andrea to talk food and competition before learning to make French crepes.
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