Long lap for Transplant Games swimmer and Olympics beckon

Natalie Hazlewood training at Blacktown Aquatic Centre for the "Transplant Games". Photo: James Alcock
Natalie Hazlewood has come a long way since she turned to her mother in the car and acknowledged she would have to stop competitive swimming.

And if she gets her way, she has a long way to go yet.

When the 20-year-old dives into the pool at the Australian Transplant Games, it will mark the end of her debilitation and the beginning of her 2020 Olympic campaign, just one year after a liver donation saved her life.

Hazlewood was 12 when inflammatory bowel disease interrupted her promising swimming career, although she was initially determined not to let it do so.

She was swimming at competitions where stars such as her hero, Emily Seebohm, were also cutting their teeth, and the international stage beckoned.

In one sense the diagnosis was a relief, as it solved the mystery of why her times were not improving despite nine three-hour training sessions a week, but it soon became a burden.

She became one of the unlucky patients for whom the disease travelled into the lower liver, and each time she returned to the pool, she inevitably returned to hospital soon after. Continue reading
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