Sunday, December 21, 2008

Swedish Hero in the Open Water

The Vansbrosimningen is an annual 3K swim, started in 1950, between two rivers in Vansbro in central Sweden with over 7,000 participants in various categories.

Courtesy of WOWSA, Huntington Beach, California.

One of the participants is Anders Olsson, who has participated in the Vansbrosimningen seven times. Anders once placed ninth out of over 3000 non-handicapped men who participated. He is a remarkably inspirational individual whose life is told in a book by journalist Eva Wiklund called’Det finns ingen gräns’, literally 'There is no limit' in English. The book is currently published in Swedish and Dutch.

What is remarkable about Anders is that he became paralyzed in 1997, he lost 50% of his lung capacity, became bed-ridden for 5 years and became addicted to morphine due to the pain. In 2002, he turned his energies to sports and became a Paralympic gold medalist in 2004 (and 2008) with 9 current world records. Earlier this year, he was chosen as Sweden’s Disabled Sportsman of the Year (seen here).

Anders trains in pools and, during the summer, in a lake and a river in Hagfors (between Stockholm and Oslo) where he lives. Training greatly helps him with pain management whereby he can live without having to take morphine and pain killers. According to Anders, 'training is his rehabilitation.'

During his road to recovery, Anders has learned to 'be on the lookout for opportunities instead of focusing on what you cannot do.'

Wonderful words to live by.

Photos from Anders Olsson’s website. English information on the Vansbrosimningen is here or here. Copyright © 2008 by World Open Water Swimming Association

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