Canberra para-swimmer David Bale prepares for national swimming trials
Advertisement

Canberra para-swimmer David Bale prepares for national swimming trials

Canberra para-swimmer David Bale can still remember when the symptoms started to develop five years ago.

He started getting chest pains and dizzy spells that sometimes saw him fall down.

Canberra para-swimmer David Bale will be competing at the Australian swimming championships. Photo: Dion Georgopoulos

Canberra para-swimmer David Bale will be competing at the Australian swimming championships. Photo: Dion Georgopoulos

Photo: Dion Georgopoulos

He went to the hospital, but doctors sent him home because they weren't sure what it was. About three months later Bale "completely" lost the use of his left leg.

Bale has multiple sclerosis, but his "arrogant determination" meant he wasn't going to give in. That determination has landed the 45-year-old a spot in the S9 100m freestyle at the Australian swimming trials in Southport on Wednesday.

"Gradually some of the movement came back but I remain with reduced strength, reduced balance, and foot drop - which means I can't actually lift my foot up for the walking motion," Bale said.

Advertisement

"I went to a physio who specialised in neuro and she recommended a prosthetist who designed some walking aids. I use a walking cane and then I have a splint for that leg."

Six to eight months later, the Tuggeranong swim club member's "left hand went".

"It just locked up and wouldn't work, that's just an ongoing thing that comes and goes," Bale said.

"Some days it's really good and I've got near full mobility in it, and other days I've got very little.

"At the beginning of last year I was preparing to go to the World Masters Games in New Zealand and I lost the use of my right leg.

"It gradually came back but again left me with foot drop in that foot. I had to go back to the physio and the prosthetist to get splints for that foot. Now I have a splint on each leg to assist me to walk."

Bale isn't expecting to turn many heads at the national trials and win a spot on Australia's Commonwealth Games team - by his own admission, he's "not that quick".

Bale says he is seeded ninth for the meet and seeded eighth for Australians because an Italian rival squeezes him out of the top eight.

He does however consider himself "a swimmer who swims better at the bigger meets", which is why Bale has his sights set on shattering his personal best time of 1:09.09.

"I'm really happy with where I'm at and I'm hoping to race quickly," Bale said.

"I'm fortunate that I've only got the one race that I am focusing on. There's no other form distractions, it's just 100 metre freestyle and that's it, which is pretty good because I'm 45 years old.

"Just to make this level of competition is an achievement itself at my age and I'm really happy with that."

Bale is one of seven Canberra-based swimmers competing at the trials alongside Abbey Webb, Jacinta Essam, Elliott Irwin, Liam Broderick, Benjamin Stokes and Joshua Alford.

Canberra product Ben Treffers will launch his Commonwealth Games gold defence at the trials, with the Australian record holder eyeing another 50 metre backstroke triumph while also competing in 100m backstroke and 50m butterfly.

Caden Helmers is a sports reporter for The Canberra Times

Most Viewed in Sport

Loading

Morning & Afternoon Newsletter

Delivered Mon–Fri.

By signing up you accept our privacy policy and conditions of use