Publish date: 15 June 2023

Hi, I am Isabelle, and I am a type-1 diabetic. I am 13 years old I love animals, my favourite colours are peach and teal, and I hope to be a vet when I am older. I have 4 pets currently, 2 pugs (one black called Pippy and one fawn called Poppy), 1 cat called Violet and, 1 rabbit called Angel. I love science in school but enjoy all the core subjects. I play the piano, sing, and swim.isabelle.jpeg

I am most proud of my swimming and school. In school, I study hard and try to make school life as normal as possible with diabetes. Although it may be hard sometimes, I work extremely hard to keep myself as level as possible throughout the day. I am proud that I can swim 5 times a week even with diabetes no matter the challenges I may face.

In July last year, I won a bronze medal in the 100m butterfly. This was a huge achievement for me as I had never won a medal before, and I had to overcome a lot of anxiety to complete this race as I was not confident in it. Then, the following weekend I won five gold medals for the 100m butterfly, 200m backstroke, 50m butterfly, 50m and 100m backstroke. I also won a silver medal in the 200m front crawl.

On swimming days, I try to stay positive and listen to music on the way to the event. I talk to my friends and coaches to keep myself occupied and bring some fun games to play to keep my mind off the race. In the last 10 minutes leading up to the race, I try to think about how I am going to swim (not changing anything though!). While on the blocks I try to only focus on the water not the crowd/swimmers in my heat. This helps to focus on what I am doing not what anyone else is doing.

There are challenges that I must overcome throughout racing. I have to deal with high blood sugars as a result of anxiety or the pump being off for too long. Sometimes, I have to explain to people why I have a different swimsuit on or why I need to leave stuff here etc. I deal with the high blood sugars by being in contact with my parents so that they know what I am doing and can help, and by being open with all the officials and warning them in advance. I found it useful to write a letter explaining the situation and giving it to the head official before the meet begins therefore, they will know why I am doing what I am doing, and I do not need to get anxious before a race.

Over a three-month period, I raised £165 for diabetes UK by swimming 92.8 miles which is over double the length of the channel and back. I found this to be a great experience because I was doing something I enjoyed while raising money for something that is a huge part of my life. I would recommend doing a charity event like this because you feel part of a team and you are raising money for research that could in the future benefit your life.

My top 5 tips for young people with type 1 in sports:

  1. Don’t give up! See that being diabetic and in sports makes you even more special and it shows how much harder you work than other people.
  2. Make friends that support you- at school and in swimming some of my main supporters are my best friends. They always hype me up and make me feel positive even when I am not having a good day.
  3. Take breaks! Although sport is a great way to relax, if you feel overwhelmed try to have some time listening to music or drawing. Mindful activities can be as good as training when it comes to sport.
  4. Try to forget as much as possible about diabetes and don’t constantly be thinking about it during sports. Try to fully involve yourself in the sport.
  5. Have a voice! If you need to do something, tell your coach or the official. Do not ignore your health because you are scared to tell them. You need to listen to body and put that first.