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The DAY - 3 km, 20 people with haemophilia and carriers, a billion emotions

It is early morning. The sun shines over the turquoise Mexican sea in Cancun, the surroundings get brighter, the breeze caresses the sand and you can feel the energy rising in the 20 young people with haemophilia and carriers from Mexico and Venezuela getting ready to accomplish their biggest challenge: swimming 3 km in open water with 400 other swimmers as part of the project “Desafío del Caribe” funded by the NNHF and Bayer Healthcare Venezuela. “For us the journey began 15 months ago when we started an intense training phase coached by trainers and regularly evaluated by a multidisciplinary medical team. During this period we all got to know ourselves better and made new friends for life”, says Emilio, swimmer from Venezuela. “It has been a tough year training from 3 times a week to twice a day in the last phase before the competition”, says Marco, a swimmer from Mexico, “the experiences lived during this year were amazing”, he continues.  Coach Everth adds “there was also much needed support from family and friends”.

After 55 minutes, 18 year old Carlos from Maracaibo, Venezuela, arrives in an impressive fourth place. Crowded by journalists and cameras, he is a star in the spotlight. Lupita, a 15 year old carrier from Michoacán, Mexico, came second amongst all the participating women: “I am so happy that we all made it to the final line. We are the champions of this competition”. On 24 June 2012, the 20 swimmers were able to get out of the water with pride looking back on what they have achieved, stepping on the sand after 3 km to reach the final line. For them, swimming has become part of their daily routine. They face several challenges every day, “but we have shown the world that we can accomplish what we want if we really want it”, says Julio, a swimmer from Venezuela.Second and fourth place for patient and carrier
The benefits of swimming will be shown in a publication to be prepared by the medical team including haematologists, physiatrists, sports medicine doctors, psychologists and nurses from both countries. “We have witnessed what is found in the literature: Swimming helps to increase muscle mass, protecting the joints against impact and hence avoiding increased frequency of bleeding”, explains Dr Adolfina Berges, haematologist from Mexico. Maricela, the psychologist accompanying the Mexican team adds: “The swimmers have experienced an enormous change of attitude and hence of life which we hope will support them in their future”.Swimming for a healthy life