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Courtesy of WOWSA, Huntington Beach, California.

A couple of years ago, I was diagnosed with a rare congenital heart condition – right ventricular dysplasia. Ironically, it attacks endurance athletes. We are usually completely asymptomatic and discover we have it when we drop dead. I felt unusually tired and decided since there were some heart conditions in my family, it couldn’t hurt to get checked out too.

To my surprise and horror, thanks to a cardiologist who just happened to have four English Channel swimmers with the same condition, I was diagnosed. I was scheduled for surgery right away. I have a defibrillator now to insure I never have a deadly arrhythmia. I had genetic testing and it turns out that I have three genetic markers for the condition.

This is testing anyone can get. We’ve lost some great swimmers to heart conditions (e.g., Ashby Harper right after a distance swim). We can get ourselves checked out. The saddest part of my condition is that I’m told never to swim marathons again. That was the bitterest of pills.
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