Swimmers making a splash at worldwide games

Matt Burrows
Matt Burrows

Two Leyland swimmers are on top of the world after battling back against life-threatening illness.

Kidney transplant patients Pam Lane and Matt Burrows have both been selected to represent Great Britain in the World Transplant Games in Malaga in June this year.

Pam Lane

Pam Lane

The pair are members of the Leyland Barracudas swimming club.

Former primary school teacher Pam, who is married with two adult children and lives in Rufford, has been a member of the Leyland Barracudas since last September.

She said: “I competed in the British Transplant Games in Liverpool and thought I wanted to join a swimming club and the Leyland Barracudas was the one I decided to join and I’m really glad I did.”

Plymouth-born Pam added that her transplant truly was a life-changing experience and she said she was excited about going to the World Transplant Games.

“I’m really delighted, but really nervous,” she said. “Obviously it’s a daunting prospect really.”

Pam, 54, was aged 21 when she was told she had inherited a kidney disease that would result in her needing a transplant.

She battled on for twenty years before her kidneys failed completely.

Unusually she had both kidneys removed at once and spent the next six-and-a-half years on dialysis.

In 2012 she got the life-saving news that a donor match had been found and she underwent the transplant.

Never having been a competitive sports person, she decided she owed it to herself, her family and the donor’s family to keep healthy, so took up swimming and badminton.

In 2015, some three years after her transplant, a friend told her about the GB Transplant Games in Newcastle so she gave it a go, competing in swimming and volleyball.

Pleased to achieve a medal it spurred her on to compete in the games in Liverpool in 2016.

She was delighted when some two months later she received the news that she had been selected for the GB team – something she had never imagined possible.

Matt, 40, had always been a talented sports person.

A keen age group swimmer at regional level and very talented scratch golfer, who at 16 won the regional Daily Telegraph scratch tournament, then went on to play in the national final at Royal Birkdale.

But soon after he was diagnosed with kidney disease and was no longer able to participate in the sports he loved.

It took 15 years of ill-health and waiting for a donor to finally be given the news that a donor match had been found.

In 2015 he underwent the transplant surgery and it was only then he realised just how ill he had been.

But always positive, even through his illness, he decided some 18 months after his surgery to get back in the water after a 23-year gap.

He entered his first masters competition in 2016 and ranked 12th overall in his age group.

Spurred on he entered the GB Transplant Games in Liverpool in 2016 and was delighted when he, too, gained selection to the GB squad for Malaga.

Pam and Matt are both training hard to ensure they are at their peak for Malaga and are looking forward to joining team mates in the Opening Ceremony on June 25.

Elaine Fitchie, president of Leyland Barracudas, said: “From the club’s point of view, masters swimming is a growing area for us, for people over the age of eighteen, where we’re increasing and getting success.

“We’re really proud for Matt and Pam and proud we’ll have two Barracudas on the blocks at the World Transplant Games representing their country.”

The GB Transplant Team is the third biggest GB team after the Olympic and Paralympic teams.

But overall at the World Games they will be alongside some 2,500 other athletes from 55 nations.