Health big issue for swimming’s Tokyo-bound Campbell sisters

Cate Campbell received “a huge wake-up call” when she went for a routine checkup and found that she had skin cancer on her right arm.

Younger sister Bronte Campbell is grappling with so many aching muscles, bones, and joints that she says, “it feels like it’s every part of me”.

Even before the coronavirus pandemic, the Australian swimming siblings had their share of health concerns.

Nothing stopped them from qualifying for the Tokyo Olympics: Cate in 50 and 100 meter freestyle and Bronte in two seasons. Both should also compete in a strongly favored Dolphins team, which is aiming for a third gold in a row in the 4×100 free relay – on the first day of the swimming final on July 25th.

However, relays and medals quickly became a minor matter three years ago when Cate was diagnosed with stage 1 melanoma.

“I just went to a routine skin exam and the dermatologist just didn’t really like the look of one of the moles that had been on my arm my entire life and I hadn’t noticed any changes,” Cate said during a video interview with The Associated Press.

The mole had to be removed, as did some of the surrounding tissue, so that a nasty scar on my biceps.

“Luckily it was for me,” said Cate. “I all have cancer cells and I knew it. . . . If you can catch it early, it’s very, very treatable – like me. But if you leave it untreated, it can have some really serious consequences. “

Cate now uses her Instagram account to promote skin care and sun protection.

“It could potentially save someone’s life,” she said. “Social media power, right?”

Both Campbells are among the most famous athletes in Australia and each won titles in the 100 Free – the signature event of swimming – at successive world championships: Cate in 2013 and Bronte in 2015.

Bronte improved Cate’s performance by winning gold in the 50 and 100 in Kazan, Russia in 2015 after Cate had combined silver in the 50 with her 100 win in Barcelona two years earlier.

At the time, Bronte seemed to be on the right track for a more successful career.

Then her body began to fall apart.

“I’ve been injured for about five years now,” Bronte said during the joint interview arranged by the sisters’ swimsuit sponsor, Arena. “It’s getting to a point where I’m pretty good at handling it now.

Regarding the details of the injury, Bronte said: “It’s all pretty vague.”

“It was a neural thing with my neck and shoulder on the left side. I also have a bad right hip, and my back on the left side also has some inflamed joints. So it feels like it’s every part of me. … I just stick together. “

Bronte’s rehabilitation and prevention program includes: yoga, breathing exercises, meditation, swimming pools, acupuncture, massages and pilates to name a few.

“It takes almost as long as my actual training,” she said in May during an altitude camp in the Thredbo ski area in Australia.

No wonder Bronte has said this will likely be her last Olympics – even though she is only 27 years old.

With the 2024 Games in Paris only three years away, 29-year-old Cate could move on.

“It’s a really exciting time to get into swimming as there seems to be a little more buzz around the world and some new things to do,” she said, referring to the professional International Swimming League and the prospect of a national swimming league being launched in Australia.

“I’ve also spoken to some swimmers and they tell me that you are long retired,” added Cate.

Both sisters share the same opinion about going to Tokyo, where surveys have shown the majority of Japanese are against holding the Games amid the pandemic and a slow vaccine roll-out.

“I don’t want the games that are my personal dreams to upset a lot of other people,” said Bronte. “So it takes a bit of the shine from him because you really want everyone to be on board and that it’s a celebration of the sport and a joyful affair. I understand where they come from as a city and what they have been through over the past year. So I can really empathize with them. “

Both sisters would like to get involved in the organization in the future the 2032 Olympic Games in Brisbane.

“The 2032 Games will set me up a pretty good retirement runway for me,” said Cate. “Brisbane is our hometown, so what more could you want?”

Bronte added: “I’m so jealous of the 7 year olds right now because it will be their games. … I would voluntarily stand outside and show people the way to the stadium. I just want to be there. “

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More AP Olympics: https://apnews.com/hub/olympic-games and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

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Andrew Dampf is at https://twitter.com/AndrewDampf

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