On Saturday 23rd September 2017, 24 transplant swimmers congregated at the London Aquatics Centre for the Transplant Sport Swimming Day.
The swimmers, aged between 12 and 70 years old came from around the UK, have one thing in common - they all have had a life-saving organ or bone-marrow transplants.
Many of the swimmers, who attend the London event, recently competed at the World Transplant Games in Malaga where Team GB & NI were hugely successful, coming home with a combined 47 gold, 23 silver, 32 bronze medals and 30 new world records.
At the Transplant Sport Swimming Day, the current transplant swimming members were joined by some new faces in a training day to consolidate existing technique and skills and give new transplanted swimmers the confidence to go back home and establish themselves as regular swimmers, and to take up a healthy lifestyle which is vital for transplant recipients after their transplant.
The swimming day involved a 2-hour swimming session in the 50m Olympic Competition Pool, coached by Joshua White the Head Coach of Royston Swimming Club and Liam Barnett, Team GB & NI Transplant Swimmers Men’s Captain. The swimmers were given a lecture session on nutrition led by kidney transplant recipient and Qualified Personal Trainer, Stephen Venis. Stephen's talk covered his personal experience as well as discussing basic nutritional needs including specific requirements for transplanted athletes, who, depending on the type of transplant, may need to avoid certain foods or limit their fluid intake.
For many transplant recipients meeting regularly with people who have had a similar life-changing experience is essential to build up a peer support network. Many transplant patients have on-going issues after surgery because of taking immunosuppressive medication to prevent their body from rejecting their new organ, so making transplant friends is important, as families and friends can offer advice and support to one another during the tougher times.
Liam Barnett, said, “The Transplant Sport swimming event at the amazing London Aquatics Centre was a huge success with the swimmers all showing great enthusiasm and energy. It was a good fun day, and a great opportunity for new transplant swimmers to meet more established swimmers. The event was also a great opportunity for those swimmers in the transplant Team GB & NI to catch-up after their recent success at the World Transplant Games.
“Of course, the transplant swimmers in London were the lucky ones. Many people in the UK are waiting for a life-saving organ transplant, and many will die waiting for a new organ. But you can help by signing up to the organ donor register at https://www.organdonation.nhs.uk”.
Jodie Cox, Ladies’ Captain of Team GB & NI Transplant Swimmers, said “Our swimmers are based all over the country, so events like this weekend give us an excellent opportunity to get together as a team outside of competition. We also invite those who haven’t necessarily been involved with the transplant swimming team up to this point, to come along and experience the team environment and work with the Team GB & NI coaches.
“With the London Olympics still fresh in everyone’s memory, it’s inspiring for the swimmers to come and swim in the same pool as their swimming heroes. The facility itself is stunning and as many of our swimmers don’t have access to 50m pool, it’s really valuable for them to have a chance to come and do some long course training.”
The Transplant Sport Swimming Day at the London Aquatics Centre was the first of many future training meets, in preparation for the World Transplant Games 2019, being held in Newcastle/Gateshead, UK.
Some of the Transplant Swimming squad gain funding from the GLL Sport Foundation, which grants them free access to Better leisure centres across the country. If selected to represent GB & NI at the World Transplant Games, athletes have to raise the funds themselves required to attend the Games and compete.
To join the NHS Organ Donor Register and help save lives call 0300 123 2323 or visit www.organdonation.nhs.uk.
To join the bone marrow donor register or for further information go to http://www.anthonynolan.org/