“Four months ago, he was on the surgery table, having his head opened,” father of Chanon ‘19 (ISB) solemnly conveys. “He’s wearing a titanium plate in his head right now.”
Chanon started swimming when he was around 5 years old as a form of exercise since he was ‘overweight’ and wanted to shed some pounds. “Later on when I was about nine or ten, I started getting more competitive,” Chanon adds. This was also about the time he moved to ISB, a more ambitious swimming atmosphere.
A few months ago Chanon says “my head started hurting a lot, I started having headaches, I couldn’t go to sleep.” After relating this information to his parents, they decided to check it out and booked a doctors appointment.
When the x-rays came out the news wasn’t good. “There was about a 3.3 inch tumor in my brain. Luckily it wasn’t in any major part of my brain, and it was easier for the doctors to take it out,” says Chanon matter of factly. Thankfully they did not need to extract too much brain tissue, and the procedure was smooth.
After the surgery, Chanon did not swim for the first two months, but continued to contribute to his team by motivating his teammates, and acting the part of a coach during practices. “It’s definitely been harder, [but] my teammates, my coaches, my family and friends were all really supportive.”
Chanon particularly appreciates that although those close to him did not treat him differently, “they are aware about what has happened, and the limitations of what I can or cannot do.”
His dad also talks of their worries for Chanon “as a parent, we are very excited to see him succeed in anything that he does, especially swimming, since he’s so good at it. Now that health is going to be an issue, we don’t want him swimming that hard…swimming becomes second now.”
“We said to him, just go in the pool, and just have fun….we don’t want him to go too hard, because we don’t want him to have some kind of problem in the pool.”
The fear is that “college, getting married, having grandkids, and all that stuff, was a big question mark.” his dad remarked
His parents also had worries about how the surgery would affect Chanon and his outlook on life,
“we were afraid that he might not try as hard, even for school or just everyday living. That he won’t fight for something anymore, but we’ve never seen that from him…He says, ‘mom, dad, I feel fine today, and I’m to keep going today.’”
Despite his parent’s worries and fears for him, Chanon still pushed forward.
He talks of how hard it was getting in the pool in the beginning. “At first I started out in my own lane, because after the surgery my coaches were afraid that maybe a swimmer would bump into me or something.”
Later on, as Chanon got increasingly comfortable with swimming and “getting back into the water again”, he joined his team and practiced alongside them.
“My times weren’t going as fast, it wasn’t the same as before. I realised that the more I practice, the more I’ll recover from the surgery, and the better I’ll get,” which is precisely what happened.
At first, Chanon was not certain if he wanted to participate in IASAS swimming. “I felt like I wasn’t ready, but at the end, I thought about it again and I didn’t want to miss this IASAS.”
Words from past swimming alumnus encouraged him to not miss this chance, and Chanon recalls their advice, “‘enjoy IASAS while it lasts, because there’s nothing that’s ever going to be like IASAS in your lifetime. IASAS will always be the event I look forward to in my highschool years.”
His father distinctly remembers Chanon saying to him,
‘Dad, if I die, I die doing what I love.’
“There’s nothing I can say to him after that.” his dad states.
His dad says the reasons Chanon wanted to participate in IASAS was not only to be part of the team and to contribute to the team, but also because of personal success, “to come back, and not only to prove to everybody else, but most importantly to prove to himself that he can come back and become really good at something he does.”
Chanon’s speedy recovery and improvements are thoroughly impressive, especially being so close to the swim meet.
“Just recently, before IASAS, two weeks ago, I practiced and was getting really good times…I would even get better times than before the surgery!”
“Now that he’s here, we’re grateful. We’re blessed since, number one, he’s very healthy, and number two, he’s actually getting some medals!” This is huge feat especially since Chanon is going up against 16, 17, 18 year olds, and he’s still readjusting.
“The last event, 150 meter freestyle, you can see that he gave all of his heart out. Not a drop of blood left, after he got out of that pool, so we’re just very grateful. And his mom cried…I can’t believe how hard he tried,” his dad proudly expresses.
“Nothing is more tough than the thought that you may not be here, and being able to fight that, win and keep going, it’s one of the most inspiring stories I can see from him.”
Over the course of the 3 IASAS competition days, Chanon won 3 bronze medals from the 800m Freestyle, 400m Freestyle and 4x100m Freestyle relay.
Overall, the ISB boys swimming has collected a total of 514 points, putting them in second place as a team.
Chanon was also awarded the spirit of IASAS, which he received with a standing ovation at the awards ceremony last night.
“To us, IASAS was not about winning or losing because we came here not expecting to win anything. It’s about the spirit of being able to pick yourself back up and start running again.”