Guernsey Press

Swimmer breaks British record after removal of brain tumour

A former Guernsey Commonwealth Games swimmer broke a British record at the weekend, less than a year after the removal of a brain tumour.

Cate Jackson with the medals she won at the Guernsey Masters Meet. (Picture by Karl Dorfner, 33120327)

Cate Jackson set a new best time for 200m freestyle for women aged 60-64, swimming it in 2-24.82 at Beau Sejour.

In April last year, she required a four-hour operation to remove a benign tumour the size of a golf ball.

‘I just want to share with people that, even if you have a brain injury or brain tumour, there is light at the end of the tunnel,’ said Ms Jackson.

‘I’ve missed two years of my life. Suddenly, you don’t take things for granted any more and you appreciate a lot more in life.’

Ms Jackson represented Guernsey at the Games in Brisbane in 1982, making the final of the 200m individual medley. She described herself as 'a bit of a swimming obsessive'.

She now lives in Hertfordshire, where she works as a swimming instructor, but regularly comes back to Guernsey to compete.

Cate Jackson and Owen Le Vallee head the Guernsey team at the flag raising ceremony at the 1982 Commonwealth Games in Brisbane. (33122884)

‘I came over in 2022, but because of my symptoms I couldn’t compete.

‘At the time, they thought I had labyrinthitis, which is an inner ear infection which gives you vertigo and other symptoms. I couldn’t even stand on the starting block.’

She was diagnosed with a brain tumour in March 2023.

‘To be honest, it was a bit of a relief as I thought I had Parkinson’s,’ she said.

‘I told my surgeon I wanted to break the British record.

‘He wasn’t even sure I should go swimming. But it really helped my recovery to have that goal.

‘At the end of the day, I was one of the lucky ones.

‘After the surgery, I just felt brilliant as all the awful symptoms had disappeared.

‘I didn’t do anything for about 13 weeks and then I started back in the pool.’

Ms Jackson slowly built up her training, but could not dive or do tumble turns until January this year.

She always had the goal of competing on Friday to attempt to beat the British record.

‘There was the biggest noise when I got the record. It was just fabulous. I think a lot of people knew what I’d been through.

‘The previous record holder, Julie Hoyle, sent me a text after the race. She said she was so pleased for me to break it considering what I’d gone through.’

And she has not finished yet as she aims to beat the 100m freestyle record later this year at the National Championships in the UK.

She will return to Guernsey for the Masters event next year with the aim of breaking the 200m record again.