Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Conquering the Lava Swim

One night this winter, over dinner, my older brother Pat had mentioned a competitive open-water swim that would take place in May, called the Lava Swim. It was 1.2 miles in the Barnegat Bay. I had been expressing interest in getting back in shape for months but kept finding convenient ways to avoid it. I planned to go back to something that I had always loved… getting back in the pool. I swam competitively when I was younger and I knew this is what could get me back on track cause it had worked for me before. I now had a goal and started acting on it.

In January, I started training at a local pool. I started out swimming 40-50 laps every other day. It wasn't easy at first and it was obvious that I had let myself get out of shape. I took the pain that came along with it as a sign that I was making progress. It got easier with time and eventually I built up to swimming 80-100 laps by May, as the race was approaching. I felt good, but was still anxious. Swimming in that open water would bring currents and would be a lot different from swimming in a pool.

I went through an open-water swim training course a couple weeks before the race and got in the cold water with a full wetsuit. It felt a lot different, but I was still feeling confident. I had to be confident because race day was only two weeks away.

On the morning of May 27th, at 4 am, I woke up to a crazy thunderstorm with pouring rain outside my home. The race was only three hours away and I had to travel east to the New Jersey shore. The storm was traveling in the same direction. I planned to meet my brother and his wife, Adrienne, there. They were taking the plunge with me. My older brother is not affected by hemophilia and he has recently become a rockstar at triathlons. He was a big supporter in helping me train and I’ve always looked up to him. 

There were tons of people at the beach when I showed up and the rain had slowed, with no thunder or lightning in sight. I got ready and got into the water with 150 other people for the start of the race. My heart was pounding and I knew the first couple minutes would be crazy in this large pack of people swimming. I got to the first buoy and was getting gassed about halfway through, but I just kept pushing like I never had before. It felt like the race was never-ending but I knew I wasn't in last place, as there was always someone behind me. I struggled running up the shore and I felt an exhaustion as if I had really given every last bit I had. I heard someone mention the time at right around 31 minutes. I ended up placing 47th out of 150 with a time of 31:00.8.

I lost 25 pounds and gained back range-of-motion in almost every joint, including my elbow. I also noticed that I was no longer having the inconvenience of spontaneous bleeds that I had experienced in the past. Although the race was a great accomplishment, it is just a start for me. I'm going to continue swimming and start running and biking, as well. I plan to complete a triathlon this year. Who knows? Maybe I'll even write about it. 


Stephanie said...

Go Matt! Congratulations! Would love to know the origin of blog name "Infuzr"

Mark Kenny said...

Thanks for reading, Stephanie. The name Infuzr was chosen because the blog features content produced by people affected by bleeding disorders, who must "infuse" themselves, their child or someone else for treatment. The spelling was altered to resemble the style of a tech startup to better reflect how we choose to connect and communicate with each other and the community. Thanks again for reading.

Anonymous said...

Swimming is the number one sports recommended by hemotologists. I have four boys with severe hemophilia A. Since they started swimming 6 years ago, bleeds have become extremely rare!!! Some have gone five to six years without a bleed. Congrats Matt and continue to get the word out about the therapeutics benefits of swimming. Jane Forbes

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