DUBAI Things could have gone horribly wrong for Australian swimmer Rachel Goh when her rapidly growing swimming career was almost cut short after a near fatal accident while she was on holiday last year.
But Goh fought back through the tough times with sheer grit and determination and was back to doing what she loved best.
“It was a very tough phase,” said Goh who is participating in the 3rd Dubai International Swimming Championship 2013 Age Groups being held at the Hamdan Bin Mohammad Bin Rashid Sports Complex this weekend.
“It was one of the hardest times of my life and a tough road to recovery,” she added.
After narrowly missing out on selection for the London Olympics early last year, the 26-year-old along with fellow Australian swimmers Grace Loh and Kyle Richardson left on a holiday to Bali. As they were out exploring the island on a scooter, Goh could not bear the tropical heat and suffered a crash that inflicted severe head injuries.
“I fractured my skull. The doctors told me I wasn’t to swim for six months to a year if I wanted to recover 100 per cent,” said Goh, who had also developed Bell’s palsy (paralysis to one side of the face caused by nerve damage).
Goh was left shattered as the world short course trials (her speciality) were just five months away. “I was shocked. But I knew I could give it a try and went for a second opinion from a sports neurologist who said I could do it in the next two months, cautioning me against pushing too hard,” Goh said.
“I knew it was going to be a really big challenge because the facial muscles also affect your breathing,” she added..
But her efforts paid off when she qualified for the Australian team in September and embarked on a World Cup tour in October, winning the 50-metre and 100-metre backstroke at six of the eight rounds of the series, and finished second in the other two.
It gave her confidence of finishing the year on a high.
“I was the favourite to win gold in Istanbul (FINA World Swimming Championships 25 metres) where I finished fourth. It was frustrating. These are the times when you really need support,” Goh said thanking her family members for playing a crucial role in her recovery.
“It was bad for them as well. They were with me when I was in hospital. I had a tough time dealing with the emotional side of things when things did not work my way. I ended taking out my frustration on people I loved the most.
“But my family understood me and were supportive. I couldn’t have done it without them. They kept pushing me and I considered myself lucky to be here today,” she added.
Enjoying her break
Goh is currently pursuing a post-graduate degree in Psychology and wants to enjoy her break at the moment.
“I take it day by day. I really don’t want to plan long and get my head around taking it meet by meet.”