Pernille Blume Overcomes Hole in Heart to Remain World Class Swimmer

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Pernille Blume underwent heart surgery in January and took down the world record holder in the 50 free in Indianapolis on Saturday; Photo Courtesy: Peter H. Bick

2016 Olympic gold medalist Pernille Blume swam a 24.08 in the 50 free on Saturday night at the FINA Champions Series in Indianapolis. She finished ahead of world record holder Sarah Sjostrom (24.18) and 2012 Olympic Champion Ranomi Kromowidjojo (24.56). It was the third fastest time in the world for 2019 as she sits behind Sjostrom (23.91) and Australia’s Cate Campbell (24.00).

Not bad for undergoing heart surgery in January.

Blume’s surgery was necessary prevention to reduce the risk of blood clots and cardiac arrest for Blume. In 2017, she experienced a number of nerve disorders in her left arm. She tried a number of different treatments for nerve disorders, but it was then that the experts found the smaller hole in the heart.

The surgery was successful but she was out of the water for two weeks.

“I didn’t know what to expect and how to feel afterwards so it’s also a bit of an emotional race for me,” Blume said. “I’ve been through this period of all of the emotions and thoughts of if I was going to get back into shape again and here I am.”

“(Training) has been up and down. I came back to the water after my surgery and five days in, I broke my little finger. I had another setback so I was kicking a lot and doing things that might not be as fun. It’s been a game changer in my mind definitely.”

The heart surgery changed Blume’s life and it will never be the same as it was, but her swimming in the pool has seemingly stayed the same.

Her 24.08 in Indianapolis on Saturday was just off her 24.05 she swam in Monaco in mid-June 2018. Her time tonight was a season best time which was something she did not expect coming into the meet here.

“I just jumped in the water and it felt great. I just thought, ‘hey I’m going to go for it,'” Blume said. “I knew it was going to be a tough race. Sarah (Sjostrom), she did great in the other meets so I knew she was going to push it as well. I didn’t know what to expect, I just knew I wanted to go out and give it everything I had today.”

Her previous season best was a 24.28 at the FINA Champions Series in Guangzhou.

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Photo Courtesy: Peter H. Bick

Blume competed in all three of the stops at the FINA Champions Series, beginning in China at the end of April, then Hungary two weeks later, and finishing here in the United States. She raced Sjostrom at all three stops and also took on Kromowidjojo and Campbell in China. On the all-time list, Sjostrom sits first, Blume is third, Campbell is fourth and Kromowidjojo is fifth.

In Indianapolis, Sjostrom and Kromowidjojo again lined up next to her behind the blocks. So what is it like racing three of the best sprinters in history so consistently?

“It’s an honor each time,” she said. “I’m so grateful I am able to do what I love and I’m able to race that fast. It’s always inspiring to see how your competitors prepare and how they race. There’s a lot to learn from everyone.”

Her race in Indianapolis was the first time she won an event at the Champions Series this year, saying it was a special race for her.

“I’m slowly gaining my confidence and my trust and belief in myself,” Blume said. “This was a step in the right direction so things are looking right.”

Blume also swam the 100 free and was second to Sjostrom with a 53.68, which is not far off her 53.40 season best from the Champions Series in Budapest, which puts her seventh in the world rankings.

Even with heart surgery behind her, Blume is again one of the favorites to win a medal at the World Championships this summer, where she will be looking to win her first medal at the world level in the 50 since winning gold in Rio in 2016.

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Mike Miles
3 years ago

Wow, what a great comeback story! Thanks Andy for always finding these behind the scene insights.

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3 years ago

Brian

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مليون مبروك لمصر بفخرها ببنتها السباحه العالميه الف مبروك على الجايزة ربنا يوفقك ومزيدا من الجوايزالعالمية انت بنت مصر فخر لمصر