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Shared experience

“Type 1 gives you more pride in what you have done” – rowing on the world stage

Jamie Pollock was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes when he was 12. Shortly after, he started rowing for fun. Now 18, he has rowed for Great Britain and placed second in the English National Championship in triathlon

Type 1 doesn’t get in the way of my sports at all. It’s something I just try and manage as best I can. It’s just it’s all about seeing what works for you. Everybody’s different, very different, you’ve just got to try and find what works.

A sudden diagnosis

I was diagnosed was in the summer of 2017 when I was 12. I just started feeling a bit ill and was drinking lots of water and going to the loo a lot. The GP did a urine test and told us to get my things and go to Southampton Hospital. We got there on Friday, stayed the night, and learned probably the most I ever have in about 48 hours.

Gaining confidence through tech

Very quickly I got put onto a Dexcom G5 which was like heaven. It just made everything so much easier. I took on most of it by myself, even at that age. My mum was very supportive and helped me a lot, but it was my judgment at lot of the time.

I felt like my inner confidence came quite quickly. I think the CGM helped with that. The safety of knowing what my levels were constantly gave a lot of reassurance.

From rowing for fun to competing on the world stage

Without a doubt, my biggest rowing achievement was racing at the Junior World Championships for Rowing in Paris, in summer 2023. Our races were fun and exhilarating, very fast and furious against some pretty phenomenal rivals. We made it to the final – a pretty incredible result.

I started rowing at school in year nine. I started off just doing it for fun, not training overly hard or anything like that, so I was never really too worried about managing my type 1. Doing it that way really helped when I started training harder because I already knew what worked. When I started training more intensely, I didn’t really change much in how I was looking after my diabetes.

I’ve had quite a few blood sugar lows. Nothing dangerous, just sometimes in training when I’ve got it wrong slightly. But I just have my jelly babies and then I let it let it come up and then I get back to it.

Moving onto an insulin pump

I got a pump in the Christmas of 2020 and that made life even easier. I could really try and tailor everything to me and make sure that I can be in the best possible range for the most amount of time whilst training and whilst racing. I take my pump with me in the boat. I’ll try to make sure I’m in range and then I’ll just disconnect it before I go racing. Once I’m done, I reconnect it.

Triathlons

I’ve competed in four triathlons over the last two years and I really enjoy it. I competed at the English National Championships and placed second in the under-20s.

With triathlons, I keep the CGM on the whole time. I’ll take the pump with me and after I get out from the swim I grab my pump, put it on and then go out for the cycle and the run.

On all the triathlons I’ve done, I’ve managed it enough to not go low at all, so I never need to just stop because of that reason. It’s always a really big achievement when you finish, which I always love.

The daily challenge of type 1

I find that for myself, especially going to the World Championship, diabetes in my head is a lot more of a wall than it is in reality. People don’t realise what every day looks like for me and the constant things I have to do, just to keep myself going and be able to keep moving forwards and train. Doing all that gives you a bit more pride in what you’ve done.

You can’t stop doing, can’t stop trying things. You just have to think about it a bit harder than people without type 1, and that’s all.

Looking to the future of type 1

A cure for type 1 would give me a lot more freedom. It would make everything a lot easier. It would give me much more headspace for other things. But I’ve tried my best not to let it hold me back.

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