Rottnest swimmer celebrates his second chance at life... by swimming the channel race again

Date published

24 Feb 2017

A Rottnest Channel swimmer who nearly died after suffering a heart attack mid-race is celebrating his second chance at life... by swimming the channel again this weekend.

John Muir nearly died in 2014 after he suffered a heart attack half way into the Rottnest Channel Swim. Thinking he had simply hit the wall, he pushed through the unbearable pain and, remarkably, finished the full 19.7km swim.

Staggering up the beach with pink foam coming from his mouth, John was rushed to Rottnest hospital, who immediately called in the Royal Flying Doctor Service.

"I'm a very lucky man," says John. "I was pretty worried alright, but when you're with the Flying Doctor, you know you're in good hands"

"Three years later and my health is really, really good. I don't have any permanent damage, and I'm living my life now as I did before the heart attack happened. That's thanks to the Royal Flying Doctor Service."

After taking some time to rebuild his confidence and doing a lot of training, John is taking part in this year's swim as part of a mixed duo called Mozzie and Moose.

"I feel amazed that I've got my health back; it's like a second chance at life. Every time the Rottnest Channel Swim comes around it's a celebration that I'm still here, I'm still going, and I'm still enjoying being part of it with all
my friends and family.

"It just makes you hugely grateful for the health that you've got. And more than that, you're grateful for what you've got in life – and it doesn't have to be much."

Living in the city, John never thought the Royal Flying Doctor Service would one day save his life.

"I thought the Flying Doctor was just for people who work in rural regions like the Pilbara. We live in the city and I'm generally pretty healthy, so I never dreamed I'd be reliant on the Flying Doctor."

Grahame Marshall, CEO of the Royal Flying Doctor Service, said many people are unaware that places as close and familiar as Rottnest Island are part of Flying Doctor country.

"When people think about the Flying Doctor, they often imagine a traditional outback setting. What many people don't realise is that so much of our work actually happens a lot closer to home.

"Rottnest Island seems so close; you can see it from Cottesloe Beach. And yet every year, the Royal Flying Doctor Service retrieves around 70 people from Rottnest and provides them with the finest aero medical care in the world.

"We're a service for every Western Australian across our vast state, whether you live in the Kimberley or walking distance to Perth's CBD. Whenever you need us, wherever you are, the Flying Doctor is there."