Courtesy of Mohammed Sofian Ismail.

On April 4th, Mohammed Sofian Ismail completed his most recent open water swim, a 21 km circumnavigation around Koh Tao in Thailand, taking 9 hours 42 minutes.

The circumnavigation was the longest in terms of distance and time that Ismail has accomplished to date. Which is quite remarkable because in December 2016, he experienced a cardiac episode during the middle of a 2 km sea swim.

I sprinted right from the off because it was clear water in front of me,” recalls Ismail about the 2 km Port Dickson Open Water Swim in Malaysia. “I knew very well from my triathlon days that it was of paramount importance to get clear water in front of you. So I took my opportunity and went off helter-skelter. My heart was pumping but who cares, this was a sprint race.”

But what transpired over the next hour literally saved his life.

He continued to describe the race. “I reached the first buoy quite ok in front of my normal rivals. Then at about 1.2 km I realized that I was slowing down for no apparent reason. People were passing me by and I couldn’t seem to respond. Maybe I should slow down to catch my breath?”

The situation was becoming increasingly dire offshore in the sea.

My chest felt tight. I was in trouble.”

He stopped and raised his hand, asking for help. Lifesavers came to his immediate rescue. After an initial struggle onto the rescue boat, he was transported from the race course to an ambulance to an emergency room at a local hospital 4 km away where a full medical team started to work on him.

The sense of urgency was very high and everyone was working as one to save [me],” he recalled.

You are having a heart attack,” explained a young Indian doctor to Ismail.

The rest of his story in the first person is written here.

And the most incredible outcome about this entire episode is that Ismail continues to swim and compete in a number of marathon swims from Spain to Malaysia. He describes his numerous swims on his blog.

Read about his heart attack at sea and the remarkable rescue and emergency services he received here.

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