British Transplant Games: In the Swim

We have a friend: let’s call him Carl (well, it is his name). Carl has just won bronze in the 50m freestyle at the Swimming Gala at the British Transplant Games.  That short but intensive training paid off.

Medal winners Carl, left, with Alistair and Mike

Medal winners Carl, left, with Alistair and Mike

Cim got to know Carl when they were both in St. George’s Hospital Tooting. Carl had just had a kidney transplant, Cim was just about to. There are easier ways to make friends, but that’s what happened to us.

I’d like to think we had some hand in helping him on his way to his bronze medal. We encouraged him to take part, we listened to his worries about training and his paranoia about finishing last, and we shouted ourselves hoarse when the starter’s gun went off. You could say we were a team. And in return, Carl inspired us.

That seems to be the way things are at the Transplant Games, all over the Coventry Leisure Centre, groups of people like Carl and us from different parts of the country, representing their hospitals, swimming for gold. At least, that’s what it looks like, but really, they are representing the possibility of what life after a transplant is about.

While we were waiting for Carl, we talked to the parents of another swimmer, Ben, who won every race he entered – the Michael Phelps of the games. Luckily for Carl, he was in a different age group. Ben had played water polo for England as a young lad and was about to be picked to go to the Olympics when he got leukaemia. A bone marrow transplant saved him and once more he’s tearing up and down the lanes doing what he does best.

Finally, it came to the 50m freestyle. Carl looked like he was going to come second, but the last 10 metres seemed longer than the first 40 and he slipped to third. Anyway, he seemed to come out satisfied, jokingly threatening to blame his anaemia nurse for not giving him the iron injection that he claims would have given him the staying power to take him up a medal position.

Carl has the Games bug. He knows what he needs to do for the Bath Games in 2010.  Perhaps I’ll go in for the donor run. Maybe even Cim will do something. You want to get close to that 30 second mark? We’re here to encourage you and Ben and all those from Exeter to Glasgow. Cheering you all on. So much for the loneliness of the short-distance swimmer.

Coming soon: the meaning of poignant and what we had for dinner.

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One Response

  1. […] poignancy of watching the children’s sprints, using the word I mentioned at the end of the last blog entry. Yeah, yeah I get it; blogging is about keeping up to […]

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