Para Swimmer Guilherme Gomes Faces Life’s Challenges and Completes Travessia do Leme à Barra da Tijuca
43-year-old Guilherme Linhares de Oliveira Gomes had three separate major impacts on his physiology, psychology, and recovery.
After being hit by a runaway car at high speed while riding his motorcycle in 2003, Guilherme had his left arm amputated while his left leg remained partly paralyzed.
Psychologically, he decided to get over his disabilities and the impact of the accident when he realized his outlook influenced everyone in his family. “If I was happy, everyone was. If I was sad, everyone was too. I understood that I needed to accept what had happened to me.”
Guilherme faced two months in a hospital and over six years of corrective surgeries on his injured leg. He lost 10 cm of his femur and had to undergo bone growth for a year. The recovery was not easy, but Guilherme was determined not to give up.
Before the accident, Guilherme had had interest in swimming. But based on the medical advice he received from his physicians, he started swimming in a pool four years after his accident. Five years post-accident, Guilherme started swimming in the ocean despite the difficulties presented by the waves, winds and currents.
Since his open water swimming start, Guilherme continues to increase his daily distance swims.
Adherbal de Oliveira reported that Guilherme recently completed the 16 km Travessia do Leme à Barra da Tijuca, becoming the first para swimmer to complete a solo swim with the Leme to Pontal Swimming Association (LPSA).
Guilherme said, “The idea of doing this 16 km challenge started last year when my wife, two friends, and I completed a relay over the 36 km Travessia do Leme ao Pontal course. From then on, I started thinking about challenging myself in a marathon swim.”
The one-year preparation was carried out under the guidance of coach Bruno Ribeiro from the BF Swim team with daily workouts for an hour and a half a day and Pilates sessions to ensure the necessary muscle reinforcement and body balance control.
The 16 km swim started at 4:16 am on December 10th. After just a few minutes of swimming, Guilherme already observed a beautiful sunrise to kickoff his swim along with the presence of many seagulls.
The water conditions were perfect for open water swimming. The winds were calm and the water, in addition to being crystal clear, was 23ºC.
Following the same rules imposed for swimmers without physical disabilities, Guilherme continued to progress very well along the course with an average speed of 2.4 kilometers per hour. He was always closely accompanied by the escort boat Otto Magalhães, captained by Commander Ary da Conceição and under the careful eyes of of his escort support crew including his coach and his wife.
Despite never swum 16 km before and encountering oncoming currents at times along the course, Guilherme completed the Travessia do Leme à Barra da Tijuca in Rio de Janeiro in 6 hours 39 minutes, becoming the first disabled athlete to challenge himself and complete the crossing where he was able to see Cagarras Archipelago, Sugar Loaf Mountain, the famous beaches of Ipanema and Copacabana, and over in the final stretch, the Tijucas Islands and Pedra da Gávea.
About his next challenge, Guilherme said, “My next challenge is to be a father. My wife, who is a physiotherapist and helps to take care of me, is six months pregnant. We will have a daughter. She will be called Marina, a name originating from the sea. I am sure that this challenge will be much more difficult because it is a challenge that I will go through throughout my life: all the stages of my daughter, all the troubles at each age, all the difficulties. It is as if I were going to do , now, a test, for the rest of my life, which will have different intensities and routes. Certainly, this challenge will be much greater than the challenge I took on today.”
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