Mr Pele, aged 53, is a regular swimmer at West Bromwich Leisure Centre and, in the last 12 months, has clocked up over 360 hours in the pool and recorded more than 400 kilometres. Visiting the centre most days to swim, Mr Pele puts his commitment in the pool down to SWIMTAG.
Growing up, Mr Pele suffered ill health which meant he was forced to spend much of his childhood in a hospital bed. His battle with crippling osteoporosis continues today and leaves him dealing with intense pain every day, which he controls with the help of 35 daily, prescribed tablets.
Mr Pele explains: “All my life my body has let me down, preventing me from reaching my full potential, both physically and mentally. However, in the last 12 months I have found solace in swimming. I find the water and the environment incredibly relaxing. Ploughing up and down the pool I can clear my mind and focus just on my swim. It is not unusual for me to spend 90 minutes at a time in the water.
“The activity also has a positive effect on my pain levels. Having endured two hip replacements and, more recently, a shoulder replacement, my joint mobility is poor. I am also constantly fighting intense pain, yet, in the water, the pain almost disappears and allows me to simply enjoy the moment.
“SWIMTAG has been a huge motivator. I collect my wristband from reception and that is all I have to do in order to have all my swim data logged. In addition to providing feedback on estimated calories burned, lengths completed and session duration, SWIMTAG also allows me to benchmark against other swimmers. My aim every month is to appear on the Leisure Centre’s list of top ten swimmers, a target I have rarely missed.”
Mr Pele has also completed an incredible 12 SWIMTAG challenges and has just started his 13th – the Jersey Island Swim. He says: “I love the challenges. They give me a target to aim for and a reason to keep returning to the pool.
“The pool and SWIMTAG at West Bromwich Leisure Centre have given me an opportunity to perform well at something. The sense of achievement I get from seeing my name on the leader board or from completing a gruelling challenge is addictive.
“Without SWIMTAG I would find it hard to motivate myself and without swimming I would be forced into a completely inactive lifestyle.
“The experience of the last 12 months has changed my life and I intend to continue to complete challenges and visit the pool 5 or 6 times a week as long as my body will allow it.”
Mark Haslam, Head of Swimming and Sport at Places Leisure who manage the site, says: “Mr Pele is an inspiration. Despite his personal physical challenges, he turns up at the pool almost every day and gives every session 100 per cent. He has become a well-known and highly regarded visitor and we wish him every success with his 13th SWIMTAG challenge.”