PDA

View Full Version : Cardiac Swimmers



Sumorunner
January 30th, 2016, 10:28 AM
Looking for cardiac athletes. I belong to a couple online groups of athletes who all have had some sort of heart surgery. Bypass, stent, pacemaker, valve replacement, or aneurysm. They are mostly runners, but many cycle, ski, climb mountains, play team sports, etc. We wrote a book about our experiences. I'm wondering if anyone knows of any swimmers who have come back to competition after heart surgery.

http://www.amazon.com/Cardiac-Athletes-Superheroes-Beating-Disease/dp/1500159638

I had a mechanical aortic valve replacement 25 years ago and continued to do road and track races and shot put. I only recently got more serious about swimming and wonder whether there are any others.

ALM
January 30th, 2016, 02:59 PM
Yes, we have many members who have had heart surgery. The current USMS Treasurer, Ralph Davis (http://www.usms.org/people/0294H), had a heart transplant about 10 years ago. Here is a photo of him (http://www.usms.org/photo.php?p=682) that shows his impressive scar!

Sumorunner
January 30th, 2016, 03:29 PM
After many years the scar fades to the point of being almost undetectable. However, The hole in the gut where they place a drainage tube can end up looking like a second belly button.

Lyn
January 31st, 2016, 12:04 PM
It's not clear if you're looking for stories or to build a community of cardiac swimmers. I had a heart attack in 2009, ended up dead for a split second in the cath lab, now have a stent in my LAD. I started swimming last year, and while I'm too slow to be a competitive swimmer, I am slowly increasing my distance. I finished a 10K at the end of last year and this year am signed up for several longer swims, with the goal of testing the limits of the joy I get from swimming. I'm really lucky, my cardiologist is a swimmer and is hugely supportive.

Swimosaur
January 31st, 2016, 04:38 PM
The best story I know is Larry Day, from heart attack survivor to Masters World Record holder.

OPbSQfo6waY

See also this article (https://swimswam.com/from-heart-attack-to-world-records-in-swimming/) in SwimSwam.

Larry currently holds the M60-64 LCM 200 fly record (2:29.05), and held the M60-64 LCM 400 IM record (5:28.25), until Rick Colella got it. Not bad for a heart patient!

knelson
January 31st, 2016, 06:14 PM
Actually Rick also has some kind of heart condition, too, but I'm not sure exactly what it is.

Sumorunner
January 31st, 2016, 07:05 PM
Now, that's what I'm talking about. Not that I've seen a cardiac world record holder before, but there are many people like Larry who came back to see great success. It's quite normal now for athletic people to resume right where they left off. The book I referenced earlier came out of the interaction we had through the online Cardiac Athletes web site and Facebook pages.

My procedure was done at a time when most doctors told you to take it easy for the rest of your life. Getting back into any sport was rare because it was roundly discouraged. So I returned to activity very slowly and tentatively. I was fortunate to have found a cardiologist who supported it.

Red60
January 31st, 2016, 08:36 PM
I had a heart attack in 2005, and have four stents. (Three the first time, a fourth several years later) I have been competing since 2007. I am not a record holder by any means, but I do compete regularly. I now consider swimming--and swimming hard, to go fast--a basic part of my life.

aztimm
February 1st, 2016, 09:58 AM
I was diagnosed with A Fib about a year and a half ago, and they did an angiogram last Feb. My doctors told me to watch my heart rate and not do anything that could push it too high, or it may not come back down and cause me to have a stroke.
That mostly rules out sprints.

Works out well for me as I was never a big fan of swimming in meets, but I do like open water swims. I've done some o/w events since with no issues. The cooler the water the better, as it helps keep the HR lower.

Allen Stark
February 1st, 2016, 12:39 PM
Dave Radcliffe had a heart attack several years ago and has several WRS since.
Rick Colella had an arrhythmia. He had an ablation and said he's fine now.

secondheart
February 7th, 2016, 11:55 PM
I am heart transplant and have swum competitively since being transplanted. I suffered a "drop" foot (had a "balloon" for 2 weeks which basically prevented leg movement - about 6 months after my LVAD surgery the flexibility of my left foot returned to about 90%). This is somewhat inhibiting because I am a breast stroker. Still have a ventral hernia (common when the LVAD is removed in the heart transplant surgery), this may cause some extra resistence in the water. As with all heart transplants my vagus nerve is cut, so lost neurological connections are substituted via other paths (???) - (at times I get out of breath quicker). I will be 65 this year and hope to get a couple of top 10 times.
- Become a donor, someone did and saved my life - Thank You

Sumorunner
February 8th, 2016, 07:10 AM
Thanks Rich. I'm 68, got a mechanical valve 25 years ago, and ran hundreds of road and track races before and since. If you're on Facebook, you can locate many more of us at https://www.facebook.com/groups/cardiacathletes/
or at the C.A. web page http://www.cardiacathletes.com/

My drivers license says I'm a donor, but with a mechanical valve, I've been told they will not recycle the heart. Too bad since It's stronger than 99% of the unaltered ones out there.

I have never competed in a swim race but yesterday I went to a swim clinic by a triathlon coach and got my butt kicked. I'm signed up for 10 weeks of masters swim classes but doubt I'll ever reach top 10 in anything. I have no interest in short distances since I have no fast-twitch fibers to speak of. I timed myself for a mile (1775yd) a couple times and did about 47 minutes, so I'm aiming for 40 by summer.

secondheart
February 8th, 2016, 02:52 PM
Thanks Rich. I'm 68, got a mechanical valve 25 years ago, and ran hundreds of road and track races before and since. If you're on Facebook, you can locate many more of us at https://www.facebook.com/groups/cardiacathletes/
or at the C.A. web page http://www.cardiacathletes.com/

My drivers license says I'm a donor, but with a mechanical valve, I've been told they will not recycle the heart. Too bad since It's stronger than 99% of the unaltered ones out there.

I have never competed in a swim race but yesterday I went to a swim clinic by a triathlon coach and got my butt kicked. I'm signed up for 10 weeks of masters swim classes but doubt I'll ever reach top 10 in anything. I have no interest in short distances since I have no fast-twitch fibers to speak of. I timed myself for a mile (1775yd) a couple times and did about 47 minutes, so I'm aiming for 40 by summer.

Thanks for the offer but I am actively involved in a volunteer group that supports heart transplants and those waiting for a heart at my hospital.

rxleakem
February 8th, 2016, 03:27 PM
I had open heart surgery in October, 1980, at 2 years old for atrial septal defect - a hole in my heart. With just a little more regurgatation in the area of the surgery than a normal person has, I have no real restrictions now and I have been swimming Masters since 2009. My dad used to tell me that I should spice up my story by saying that I had a chainsaw accident on the farm while growing up, but I (usually) just stick to the story have having a heart that was just a little too big. :groovy:

Here are a couple of pics - click to see one of me with my mom right after surgery...
10244

And here is one from 2012 after the Peaks to Portland swim in Maine with my buddy Bob in the yack. My zipper has grown with me and blends in with my skin now...
https://scontent-lga3-1.xx.fbcdn.net/hphotos-xaf1/v/t1.0-9/557355_4489245157578_1816411917_n.jpg?oh=fce421bd0 3f6815fede512bbb524e02d&oe=573653D6

Mark Usher
March 8th, 2016, 04:08 PM
I'm an old friend (marku) from valvereplacement.org. (Only visit there on rare occasions any more)
Had my aortic valve replacement surgery 15 years ago. Started doing triathlons in 2004, but have been morphing into pretty much a full-time swimmer over the past year or so due to some orthopedic issues that limit my running.
Was an age group swimmer until I was 15, and now at 62, have enjoyed getting back into masters swimming competition after a forty-some year break.

I swim with the Sarasota Tsunami Masters team at 6AM 5 days per week. I've logged just under 100K yards so far this year.
We've been fortunate to have Sheila Taormina coach our masters team since last June - She's really helped my stroke mechanics.

I've done four masters meets in the past six months and am planning on at least four more before the end of the year.
Been swimming 50 & 100 meter free, 50 breast, 50 fly and 100 IM in competition.

My cardiac fitness is excellent. With all the endurance training I've done the past 15 years my resting heart rate is down to 49 bpm.
Still building specific swimming endurance, but that has been improving rapidly as I've gotten some of my technique issues worked out.

Mark

Sumorunner
March 8th, 2016, 05:34 PM
Someone recently posted on Facebook an event announcement of "The World Heart Games" by the American College of Sports Medicine in Charlotte NC. Some Cardiac Athletes started to get excited until we looked at their brochure. The events include things like golf putt, softball throw, soccer shoot, frisbee, and get ready for this, bean bag toss! There was one swim thing included, but not a race by any means.

Now here's the kicker, the games are sponsored by Coca Cola whose products are probably more responsible for coronary heart disease than anything else and their purpose in backing it is to counter the negative publicity that sugar loading has been getting in recent years.

For the most part, the people online were insulted by the lack of any true challenge in the event schedule, and upset that the ACSM would allow the backing of Coke of all companies. Although, most do understand the audience they are aiming this at, calling it world games was a big stretch. So a number of the more competitive souls among us posted their true feelings on the WHG web site, but they were promptly deleted.

Mark Usher
March 9th, 2016, 12:06 PM
One of my frequent lane partners just got some stints at the end of last year. When we swim together everyone jokes about how it is the "cardiac lane". For a while I think our coach was nervous about pushing us too hard - in spite of our assurances that we were both OK and fully cleared medically by our cardiologists.
We've both set multiple PR's this year and both cleaned up at the Gulf Coast Senior Games a couple of weeks ago to qualify for the Florida Senior Games meet in December, so I guess we're doing OK. ;)

davidcliff
March 15th, 2016, 08:44 AM
I had 66mm of stints put in Aug 2012 at the age of 38. I swim and coach 4-5 days a week, along with weight training and running. Ask anyone in my club if they think it has slowed me down any...

Mark Usher
April 24th, 2017, 07:16 PM
Update to this thread:

I got a mechanical aortic valve back in December 2000. No problems and no restrictions since that time.

About ten days ago I started developing some shortness of breath and some other symptoms and went to see my cardiologist this morning.

Long story short, the electrical signals that fire my heart muscles have become "confused" due to my missing tissue valve and missing every other beat, so it won't beat faster than about 38 bpm.

I'm scheduled to get a pacemaker implanted this coming Friday. Doc says that I have to stay out of the water for two weeks to let the incision heal, and only breaststroke & kicking for another two weeks. After that NO restrictions.

It kind of screws up my summer long course season, but still hope to be at Indy for the spring Nationals in May 2018.

Bobinator
April 25th, 2017, 02:03 PM
I have a rare, genetic condition called Long QT. I've had it my whole life and didn't know till I had my 55 year check-up. I come from a running background and was able to break 3 hours in the marathon twice so I was shocked when I discovered I had such a thing. The first EP I visited told me absolutely no working out. I was mortified and disgusted by this diagnosis. This Physician put me on a dosage of Beta Blockers that caused me to black-out when I was walking across the gym. I eventually got in with a research cardiology group who enabled me to get genetic testing. My LQT is a type they've never seen before and they are studying me. My EP and I think and hope my LQT is a non-problematic type so I continue to train and go to meets although I still take a very low dosage of Beta Blocker for protection.

Sumorunner
April 25th, 2017, 04:44 PM
I've heard of Low QT but know nothing about it. Must be one or more of the denizens of the CardiacAthletes site has mentioned it. It's usually a source of pride to be the rare exception among your peer group, except when it involves the heart.

While I don't think I was born with a valve defect, it was detected very early, age 10, and I can remember the Dr telling my mother I should "take it easy" for the rest of my life. I was never allowed to participate in sports, and I was declared 4F during the Viet Nam draft, but sometime in the 1970s I decided otherwise on my own and started running. Swimming is a new obsession.

I've been on a beta blocker for more than 30 years now, it never gave me trouble, as I hear from so many others, but then I think my dosage has always been rather low.

LinMoore
April 25th, 2017, 07:01 PM
I have had two heart ablations for A fib. First didn't hold. Not unusual to have a second really. These are more of a procedure than a surgery I would say. Certainly, when compared to others in this thread. I've had no issues and max it out often in practice and some meets. Thankful for modern medicine when it comes to the heart.

skiboy58
May 26th, 2017, 12:09 AM
Nothing wrong with my heart, as far as I know, but I had a calcium score of 109, which is the 76th percentile for my age. Weird because I am going to be 59, and I've always been told I look ten or more years younger than my age. I guess the outsides don't necessarily reflect what's going on inside. Anyway, there is terrible cardiac history on my dad's side, although thankfully, he's still with us at 85 (despite bypass, valve replacement, a-fib).

The doc says I have no blockages of greater than 50%, but need to get checked once per year. I'm on statins, baby aspirin, BP meds. The doctor says that as far as exercise, the more the better.

Mark Usher
May 26th, 2017, 01:17 PM
It's been just over four weeks since getting my pacemaker implanted, and can finally get back in the pool tomorrow morning!

I wasn't allowed to raise my left arm above my shoulder for a month. Tried moving it around a bit yesterday. It's a bit stiff & I don't have full range of motion, so just plan to take it easy and see how it goes.

My pacemaker has a low limit of 55 bpm, with no high limit and the auto rate response is enabled. Will be interesting to see how my heart rate tracks when I get going. Unexplored territory.

DanDumee1
June 2nd, 2017, 01:50 PM
I had an open-heart surgery around 12 years ago. Doctors told me to avoid competitive sports. It depends on your condition. But it's best to take it easy to make sure you won't have any problems with your heart.

Skip
July 17th, 2017, 08:56 PM
Recently rejoined USMS and this is my first blog posting. Hope I'm in the right area, Cardiac Swimmers? Age 69 and I've been swimming off and on for years. I quit for 25 years because of allergy to chlorine. Found a solution for that a few years ago, and slowly switched back from running to swimming. I was making great headway, reclaiming time and distance until March 21, 2016. I finished 2500 yards and had a heart attack in the last 25 yds. After some fumbling around, trying to figure out what was happening, finally ended up at a local Ohio State University Urgent Care and then to the emergency room within 25 minutes. Triple bypass surgery the next day.

After a 12 week 2016 summer of cardiac rehab 3 times per week, I started getting back into swimming, very, very slowly, and tentatively since that is where it happened.

Today, I am swimming 4000 to 9000 yards per week. Problem: I am much slower than before my Heart Incident. I am facing aging, of course. But, my heart is now clear from major blockages. I am just mystified and irritated that on 2000 yards, for example, my time is 5 to 7 minutes slower than before my heart incident. I'm just wondering if I can ever get back to where I was before my Heart Incident.

I wonder if others have had a similar experience, or are aware of people with major heart incidents who have experienced such issues, or perhaps have even improved after major by-pass surgery. My surgeon did joke that I ought to be a faster swimmer since he has cleared my heart. I refer to it as a joke since it has not happened yet!

Any thoughts or comments will be appreciated. Regardless of everything, I'll just keep swimming, working on distance, and also making some effort at pushing myself on short distances -- 50, 100, 200 etc. All of this has made some small difference in times. But, for now, I am kind of stuck at a much slower pace than before my Heart Incident.

Thanks
Skip Cornett
Columbus, OH

Sumorunner
July 18th, 2017, 05:52 AM
Yeah, this is a constant topic of discussion on the Cardiac Athletes forum. Are you taking a beta blocker? The purpose of a BB is to limit your heart rate. People on high doses report being tired and sluggish at all time, not just during exercise. Even low doses will trim about 10 beats per minute off the high end. You'll be taking it for a long time, maybe forever. As you get in better shape ask you cardiologist if the dosage can be lowered. Depending on how smooth ECG and echo tests get after a year or two, some can even go off of it completely.

Skip
July 18th, 2017, 10:15 PM
Yeah, this is a constant topic of discussion on the Cardiac Athletes forum. Are you taking a beta blocker? The purpose of a BB is to limit your heart rate. People on high doses report being tired and sluggish at all time, not just during exercise. Even low doses will trim about 10 beats per minute off the high end. You'll be taking it for a long time, maybe forever. As you get in better shape ask you cardiologist if the dosage can be lowered. Depending on how smooth ECG and echo tests get after a year or two, some can even go off of it completely.


Thanks for the response. Beta Blockers. Yes, a big problem except I am no longer on them, since my heart attack. My cardiologists---all of them, said no way because my pulse rate is so low, typically around 51 - 55. Before my heart attack, my Primary Care Doc had put me on BB to lower my Blood Pressure, along with another BP med. Well, it wasn't working, and I told her it slowed me down in my swimming, which she dismissed. Finally, I just quit BB on my own, then a few months later had my Infamous Heart Attack in the pool, not because of BP, or BB or anything else other than serious heart blockages. That has been fixed, 15+ months ago, no Beta Blockers, and I am still struggling with speed. Distance, not such a problem. 2500 yards today, not quite as much as before my Heart Incident, but I am more concerned about speed. Knocking off some of those minutes. tks very much. I hope others will comment also.

Bobinator
July 19th, 2017, 04:02 PM
I've heard of Low QT but know nothing about it. Must be one or more of the denizens of the CardiacAthletes site has mentioned it. It's usually a source of pride to be the rare exception among your peer group, except when it involves the heart.

While I don't think I was born with a valve defect, it was detected very early, age 10, and I can remember the Dr telling my mother I should "take it easy" for the rest of my life. I was never allowed to participate in sports, and I was declared 4F during the Viet Nam draft, but sometime in the 1970s I decided otherwise on my own and started running. Swimming is a new obsession.

I've been on a beta blocker for more than 30 years now, it never gave me trouble, as I hear from so many others, but then I think my dosage has always been rather low.

Trust me Sumo, I experience no pride in having the diagnosis of Long QT. The idea of sudden cardiac death scares me beyond comprehension. My only saving grace is that I'm banking on the fact that I had a long career as a successful marathon runner and never experienced a symptom or problem so maybe I'm okay. I do play mind games with myself about this unfortunately before almost every workout or competition but in the end it's a quality of life thing. If I had to be sedentary my life would be horrible. I'm extremely ADHD and I'm sure the meds for that would be far worse for me than a daily medium to hard core swim workout. I'd even say turning 60 helped me on this because no matter what happens I feel like I've had a full life and have been able to meet most of my important life goals.

james lucas
July 21st, 2017, 03:34 PM
... ended up at a local Ohio State University Urgent Care and then to the emergency room within 25 minutes. Triple bypass surgery the next day ... I am much slower than before my Heart Incident ... I am facing aging, of course. But, my heart is now clear from major blockages ... I'm just wondering if I can ever get back to where I was before my Heart Incident.

Skip, here are two news reports on athletes who did OK after heart-valve replacement:

- http://www.nba.com/magic/es/news/jeff-green/five-years-open-heart-surgery-thankful-20170109 (http://www.nba.com/magic/es/news/jeff-green/five-years-open-heart-surgery-thankful-20170109)

- http://www.nbcnews.com/id/28494362/#.WXIwSCyGN9A (http://www.nbcnews.com/id/28494362/#.WXIwSCyGN9A)
(A few years after surgery, this swimmer finished his college career with a 50-yard free of :21.59 and a 47.72 in 100 free).

And, getting closer to home, I know a 65+ swimmer who scored several top-ten times within a year of his valve-replacement surgery. Mind you, he’s been fast all his life, but he swam events that are, literally, heartbreakers; he’s recovered both speed and endurance. His workouts include a 1650 every Monday and sets of 10 pull-ups all the time: he’s working strength and endurance (Skip, you suggest you’re stuck on a plateau; have you tried short speed swims that reflect the principle that, "if you want to swim fast,you have to swim fast," as a complement to the longer swims you describe? Before you try that, please do study how you can do that safely, without another trip to the ER.).

You mentioned age in addition to medical issues. In the past four years, my time in the SCM 50 back has slowed by 2.6 seconds. Though I spent a lot of time visiting doctors during those years, some of this decline was likely the result of age. Consider the case of one of my local age-group competitors, who four years ago was finishing within a few tenths of a second of me in theSCM 50 back. Last year, his time in SCM 50 back also had slowed, and he finished within :00.01 of my time. In other words, nearly all of us in the 65+ age groups are getting slower.

One of the reasons we’re slower is we’re losing “heart power.” Before my surgery, I ran 5-Ks in the mid- to high-20-minute range, with an average pulse of 155 to 165. Today, I’ve plateaued over 30 minutes, with an average pulse in the 130s or 140s. Over many years, there’s been a strong correlation between my running times and my pulse: when my heart is stronger, I run and swim faster. My lower level of “heart power” doesn’t have much impact on my 50 back, but it’s killed my 100 back, and my 200 back has gone from a race to a journey. About 20 years ago, I was in such poor shape, I was having trouble running a full half mile without stopping; it took me more than seven years to rebuild my fitness to the point where I could swim fast, and I think that’s what it’ll take to once again swim a fast 200. Hope that helps...