A SUPER-SWIMMER who was left needing a huge pin and four screws inserted into her thigh bone following a road smash has defied her family’s fears that her career was over by getting back into the pool just six weeks later.
Heather Richardson – who has competed in national and local galas all over the country for Hartlepool Swimming Club – snapped her left femur after a collision with a car while riding her moped.
The accident happened on the corner of Grange Road and Mulgrave Road, in the town centre of Hartlepool, and left the 16-year-old in agony and needing a four-hour operation at the University Hospital of North Tees, in Stockton, to insert the pin and screws into her leg.
Her mum Michelle Richardson told the Hartlepool Mail that she feared Heather’s injuries were so bad that it could have marked the end of her swimming career.
The Hartlepool Sixth Form College A-level student was ordered to rest the limb, but she was so desperate to get back into the water that she pleaded with doctors to let her resume training just six weeks after her horrific injury.
Medics gave her the go-ahead to start a gentle regime, and the very next day Heather swam again, despite the bone having not yet re-joined and her relying on 26 tablets a day for the pain.
And the former English Martyrs School pupil, of South Beach, Hartlepool, is on her way to stepping up her training to eight sessions a week at Mill House Leisure Centre as she was prior to the smash on January 4.
Mobile hairdresser Michelle, 43, said: “I thought it was the end of her swimming career.
“I was thinking the worst that she could end up with a limp or one leg shorter than the other, or not able to swim again.
“I didn’t say anything to her though because I knew she would have been gutted even missing out on training and galas, never mind the thought of never being able to swim again.
“But she’s got such determination and I knew she’d never ever give up. She’s done really well and her coach is really proud of her, as I am.”
She added: “When it happened it was awful. The paramedic knew it was her femur that was broken by the shape of her leg.
“Apparently it’s the hardest and most unusual bone to break, and you can also die from it because it’s got its own blood supply so you can bleed internally.
“Now we’re just praying the bone is knitting together, otherwise she might have to have another operation.”
The leg break is the latest injury that Heather has fought back from, after she broke her wrist when she slipped over at a gala in May last year, and injured it again in a fall on December 10.
Once again Heather’s determination saw her overcome her injuries, taking to the water with a cast on bagged up with a plastic bag and tape.
Heather, who’s favoured style is backstroke, started swimming when she was just four and decided to take it more seriously when she turned 12.
Since then the dedicated student, studying maths, physics and physical education at college, has never looked back and has competed in the English and Scottish nationals several times as well as several other contests across the UK.