More MS news articles for Oct 2001

Swimming to Santa Monica

18 October 2001

Mike Taylor, 36, is a graphic designer and has been organising long-distance swims for the last four years. This year on 29 September he took part in a 38-mile swimming race in California. He has multiple sclerosis.

"I like to keep fit, it's a vanity thing. The last thing I want to become is a big porker. I like it when people say 'God you look fit'. I love water when I was two, my uncle chucked me in. I don't see myself as disabled now, I'm just Mike, who happens to have multiple sclerosis. I have a wheelchair, so what? I was diagnosed with MS in 1993; at first I had a mild limp. I've always been mad for sport I was a county-standard rugby player. I had a big racing bike and I hung onto it as long as I could. I fixed a bit of string to the gear lever so I could continue to use it.

I started swimming at Tooting Bec Lido my condition's better the colder I am but I got bored of swimming up and down. I swam the English Channel with a team of six, and then from Minorca to Mallorca. The next year we went to the States for a 38-mile swim from Catalina Island to Santa Monica, California well, where would you rather swim?

There are some pretty big fish out there we have guard launches and radars, but they didn't pick up the dolphins that swam with us. It's a relay there are eight international teams this year and the standard is incredible. There's one swimmer with MS in each team. It's so empowering for able-bodied and disabled people. We have some of the fastest swimmers in the UK former Olympic medallist Duncan Goodhew will be swimming alongside me.

We swim through the night I get picked up and thrown in, I don't have a choice. When I hit the water, I feel I can be as fast as anybody else. I can twizzle, I can float the freedom's fantastic.

"I'm really competitive. A friend started swimming faster than me and I said 'Well that's not fair, you use your legs'. He said, 'A win's a win' now that to me is a true friend."