FeaturesBlogsYouth and Junior

My Heart Condition Can't Stop Me From Doing Triathlons

by Emma Anderson

emma and her brother at the finish of a race

I was born with Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome (HLHS), which basically means I have half a heart. I have had three open heart surgeries and one day I will need a heart transplant. We hope that's a long time away though.

Ever since I was a little girl, I have loved to swim. I like to swim in our pool in the backyard, and I love swimming in the ocean!

Last summer, my mom told me about our local Peachtree City Youth Triathlon and asked me if I thought I would want to do it. I knew the swim part would be a piece of cake since I am on a year-round swim team. I told her, "YES, sign me up!"

So I raced! 

The swim part was really easy.

The three-mile bike ride was OK, but there were a few hills that were really hard.

The mile run was my least favorite part of the race because it's hard for me to breathe, but I walked some and ran some.

When I crossed the finish line, I was so happy that I had finished my first triathlon!

After I rested for a little bit, I felt much better, and that is when I knew I wanted to do another triathlon! This summer, I completed the PTC triathlon again, and my little brother did it with me this time. It was lots of fun having him there!

In August, I completed my third triathlon, the Atlanta Kids Triathlon, along with my brother. I couldn't believe how many kids were there!

This race was a lot harder for me, but I finished it. A nurse from Children's Healthcare of Atlanta was my "shadow" for this race. Since there were so many kids in this race, Mr. Gary was able to ride his bike alongside me and run with me. He was there for me in case something happened and I needed him.

It was so fun and I've already asked my parents to sign me up for this race again next year.

To me, the best part of doing triathlons is getting the really cool medals at the end. I have all three hanging in my room with my swim ribbons and medals. At the end of the PTC triathlon, they always have cupcakes and fun water slides. After the Atlanta triathlon, there was an awesome water park we could play in when it was over!

Even though I'm not the fastest one out there and I don't win the big trophy, my whole family makes me feel like a winner every time I'm competing. I can't wait for spring time to get here so I can start racing again! My goal is to complete five triathlons in 2020!

Emma Anderson   

Age 9


emma rides her bike in a triathlon race