Paralympic Swimmer Uses Shark That Bit His Leg off as Motivation in Pool

Gabe Zaldivar@gabezalPop Culture Lead WriterSeptember 4, 2012

Photo Credit: Washington Post
Photo Credit: Washington Post

If you are looking for a little extra boost in the pool, you may want to pretend there is a shark right behind you. However, that tip may be only useful if a shark once bit your leg off. 

That is precisely what goes through the mind of Paralympic swimmer and more man than you will ever be, Achmat Hassiem. 

After placing ninth in his race back in 2008, the South African swimmer finally got his medal, grabbing bronze in the men’s 100-meter butterfly at the London Games. 

The interesting part of his story is what he uses for motivation when he drives himself forward in the pool, via Washington Post

I took to the pool like a shark in the ocean. My little secret is obviously that I just try and imagine I’m in the ocean and I’ve got a 4 ½-meter great white shark at my feet. It’s definitely good motivation to swim fast.

That's pretty good motivation for just about anyone who has seen a shark on TV or up close and live, but it has a tad more realism for Hassiem. 

You see, the 30-year old had his leg bitten off by a Great White shark. Here is a video of him telling the awful tale. 

Per the Washington Post, Hassiem spotted a shark while he and his brother Taariq were tending to lifeguard duties in Cape Town back in 2006. 

While he tried to distract the shark from his brother, the lethal predator latched onto Hassiem's leg and dragged him 50 feet. 

I gave one last enormous push and heard a great snapping sound. I believe I lost my leg for a good reason. Losing a leg is nothing compared to losing my brother, so I’m just trying to make the best of it.  

Yes, he is more man than I will ever be. 

That outlook has served him well as he found his elusive Paralympic medal and will head back into the pool for the 100-meter and 400-meter freestyle races. 

Through it all, he will use a shark as motivation. Meanwhile, we can enjoy his story for a great deal of inspiration. 

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