Introducing Emma our Regional Ambassador who’s also a swimming superstar

Emma has always been a passionate swimmer but after being diagnosed with a prolapsed bowel when she was 34, swimming took a backseat. After several operations, including the removal of more than 1ft of her bowel, Emma is back in the water and even competed in the World Masters Swimming Championships Budapest 2017. Here she tells us about her experience of the event.

Masters World Championships Budapest 2017

I have swum all my life and have competed since the age of 7, it is part of me and who I am

I had been out of competitive swimming for a few years due to all of the complications, pain and operations that my bowel problems have and do cause me.

After my last operation March 2014 I thought I would never be able to swim competitively again. I am a Fitness Instructor and Swimming Instructor so have to be active daily which can be hard enough, so when the time was right I returned to the pool and struggled even doing a few lengths. I fought to get stronger but had to keep taking months gaps and it caused so much discomfort. 18 months or so ago I felt I was never going to compete again which I found very hard to accept.

In May 2016 I took part in my first post-operation race as part of a relay team, it gave me the confidence boost I needed to keep trying to get stronger. February 2017 I took part in a northwest area individual competition and I swam well which helped spur me on to keep up the pool training – even when it was difficult. I eventually (after A LOT of persuasion!) decided to enter the World Masters Championships as I had achieved the qualifying times.

I was extremely nervous, full of self doubt and wondering what on earth I’d done?! The support, belief and understanding that I had from my mum (who also competed!) and my best friend helped me to focus and feel so determined. Despite all the apprehension I swam better than I could ever have hoped for, achieving personal bests in all of my 5 races and getting my first world level top ten placing in my age group, finishing 9th in my strongest event the 100m Breastroke… I was absolutely thrilled!

It was a big challenge for me to compete at such a high level competition and although it wasn’t easy tummy-wise, it was worth the pain to get that feeling again of the happiness that swimming gives me.

The facilities at Budapest were amazing and the Championships were a fantastic experience, with over 12,000 athletes taking part in all the aquatic disciplines, which created a very memorable experience.

I hope to compete at another event soon, having something to work towards helps to keep me focused and determined to win over the constant challenges that a bowel condition like mine create daily. Swimming is part of who I am and I want to continue to participate and compete for as long as I can.

Regional Ambassador programme

Emma has recently signed up to Bowel & Cancer Research as one of our Regional Ambassadors and we can’t wait to see what she has planned for the future. If you’d like to find out more about our Regional Ambassadors programme email: [email protected]