Former swimming champion thanks Swindon lifeguards

Image caption, Mr Pope said the staff had saved his life

A former swimming champion has thanked lifeguards at a Wiltshire leisure centre for twice saving his life.

Ivor Pope, 75, suffered two cardiac arrests in two years while swimming at the Link Centre in Swindon.

Mr Pope, a former National and European Masters swimming champion, from the Grange Park area of the town, was resuscitated both times by staff.

He was undertaking a 2.5 mile (4km) swim the first time it happened, in January 2008.

Mr Pope said: "My wife Ann was watching and I said to her: 'I'm going to do a couple more lengths and then get out'.

"I don't remember anything after that and Ann said the next thing she saw was me face down and not moving in the pool."

A lifeguard pulled him from the water and colleagues performed cardio-pulmonary resuscitation (CPR) until paramedics arrived.

He was taken to Great Western Hospital and later underwent a triple heart bypass at Bristol Royal Infirmary.

Following a six-week rehabilitation course at the Link Centre, Mr Pope began swimming again.

But he suffered a second cardiac arrest in December 2009.

A team of lifeguards who were undergoing lifesaving training gave him CPR and used an automatic external defibrillator, which was bought after his first cardiac arrest.

He was again taken to Great Western Hospital, where medics decided he would be fitted with a defibrillator, which re-establishes regular heart beats by giving out measured shocks.

Mr Pope said he has been told he should have no further heart problems, and has been given the all-clear to swim again.

He said: "The staff at the Link Centre were amazing and if it wasn't for them I wouldn't be here today. I can't thank them enough.

"The nurses at the Great Western Hospital kept asking me to do their Lottery numbers because they said I was so lucky.

"So Ann and I did the Lottery ourselves and we kept winning small amounts twice a week for about six weeks."

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