Heart disease has killed many young athletes. Norways' champion swimmer Alexander Dale Oen died while at an Olympic training camp at the age of 26. He was unaware that he had heart disease. USA's Robbie Gallant died of a sudden and unexpected heart attack at the age of 34, he broke several swim records during his college swim career.....In England, Mark Rickhuss died at the age of 41 during a Channel swim crossing. Ireland's beloved swimmer Patriac Casey died during an English Channel swim attempt. All these athletes appeared healthy. But appearing healthy cannot detect what is happening inside the vascular system of the heart.
These tragic deaths have motivated me to ask swimmers worldwide to participate in the event called "Swim for your Heart..Feb14" 2013 and to contact their local medical community to provide educational brochures on heart healthy lifestyle, provide free blood pressures and cholesterol screening to all swimmers.
In Mexico, marathon swimmer Antonio Arguelles organized a Heart Disease Awareness Campaign. In 2008, before Antonio started his training for the Triple Crown of Swimming (English Channel, Manhattan Island Swim, and Catalina Channel), he was diagnosed with high blood pressure. Since then, he followed the recommendations of his physician and continues to swim. Antonio has been instrumental in organizing the "Valentine's Day...Swim for your Heart" in Mexico. Also, his leadership has brought the awareness of heart disease and prevention to the global swim community. Likewise, in England Big Rick's Swim team in honor of Mark Rickhuss, has raised a substantial amount of donations for the British Heart Foundation. In Japan, Mr. Haruyuki Ishii help organize an event with the Japanese Heart Foundation. In addition, swimmers from 29 countries participated in the 2012 event. However, we need to reach many more swimmers and encourage them to contact their medical community and create an awareness day on February 14.
I hope you will join me in this global effort to bring heart disease awareness and prevention to our swim community. I will be swimming on February 14 in memory of my brother Robbie Gallant, and for those who died so young from heart disease. Also, in memory of Fran Crippen who tragically died during an Open Water swim event..... his tragic passing promted the inaugural event.