Dan Jervis has won Commonwealth Games medals and battled it out with the world’s best swimmers at the Olympic Games. But his journey to the global stage began in his local pool after his grandfather got into water to recover from a life-changing event.
The 25-year-old was introduced to aquatics from an early age after his grandfather suffered a heart-attack and used the pool as a key part of his rehabilitation. Two decades on, Jervis was stepping onto the podium in Glasgow before securing 1500m freestyle silver on the Gold Coast in 2018. The Resolven swimmer now has eyes on Commonwealth gold after a fifth place finish at the Tokyo Olympics.
But the journey would never have begun if his grandparents hadn’t used the water to improve their heart health. Regular participation in swimming has been proven to reduce the risk of coronary heart disease and can play an important role in cardiac rehabilitation.
“I first got into swimming through my Grandad. The year I was born, he had a heart attack and swimming became a big part of his rehabilitation. Because I was so young, and I wasn’t in school, he used to take me down to the pool. It was through him and my Nana that I learned to swim from such a young age,” he recalled.
“My big claim to fame is that I could swim 10 metres without any armbands when I was one. From then on, I followed my older sister Rhian to the swimming club at Glynneath. I moved to Neath in 2010, before going to Swim Swansea in 2012.
“I lost my grandfather on 9 May. He’d been sick for a few years, but he got to see me qualify for the Olympics.
“I was able to go into his front room, where my Nana had put his bed, and show him my kit that had the Olympic rings. I was able to tell him, ‘we’ve done it, you taught me my first stroke and you’ve just watched me qualify for the Olympics’.
“It was the need to improve heart health that got me into water, so I’m right behind the Swim 60 campaign with BHF Cymru. If you needed any more motivation to get back down to the pool in 2022, why not raise vital funds for BHF’s research.”
BHF Cymru and Swim Wales’ Swim 60 Challenge is encouraging people to get back into water this New Year whilst raising vital funds to continue the British Heart Foundation’s vital research. There is a challenge for everyone, whether it is swimming every now and again over 60 days, swimming 60km in a month, 60 lengths of the pool in one session or even blowing 60 bubbles in a Learn to Swim class, any aquatic activity will be good for you and will encourage others to help us raise valuable funds for this great national cause.
Dan’s grandfather didn’t get the opportunity to watch him race at the Olympics, but if it wasn’t for him, he may never have got where he is today.
“He’s been my number one fan all my life and it was obviously very tough when he passed away. He died on the Monday and I had to leave to compete in the Europeans two days later, so I missed the funeral,” Dan added.
“But it was a big comfort to me that I was able to sit down with him in his final few weeks and tell him everything I wanted to say to him.
“It’s an amazing legacy that he has left. Unfortunately, he didn’t get to see me compete at the Games, but he knew I was going and I know he’ll be with me.”
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