David Bale is enjoying the opportunities his disability has afforded him

Photo Credit: David Bale
Photo Credit: David Bale /

David Bale never stopped swimming despite a life-changing neurological condition. He’s found the silver lining in his disability and a new world of opportunity.

David Bale originally shared his story with Yoocan, a global collaborative community where people with disabilities share experiences and knowledge — so that no one feels alone. Yoocan and Why We Play are a natural match and overlap in the most important thing for our community INSPIRATION. FanSided is excited to partner with Yoocan and share some of their stories on our website — exciting and fantastic sports stories from people with disabilities. Come check out more of our joint material, and keep following for collaborations!

I just turned 50 early this year and it gave me the opportunity to look back at my life and all I have achieved.

I am a husband, a dad, a grandfather, a son, brother and an uncle. I am also a swimmer and open national swimming record holder.

My life changed just before I turned 40 when symptoms of my neurological condition presented themselves. I had facial palsy. Soon after this discovery, the left side of my body ceased functioning. I spent several months in a wheelchair until some function returned. I was left with foot drop on my left. My next episode took my right side in a similar manner as before with the same residual foot drop. Another episode left me with approx 50 percent strength remaining in my left.

This is just the physical. When combined with fatigue, nausea, pain, numbness, tingling, eye issues, memory loss, and brain fog it really takes some adjustments. I experienced grief during each episode but my loving family and my swimming got me through.

I have been a swimmer for the majority of my life and I swam through all of these challenges. I went through the Swimming Australia classification process and received an S9, SB9 and SM9 classification. I began competing at the NSW country championships, then open state and through this I qualified for open national swimming championships in 2018 which also doubled as Commonwealth Games trials on the Gold Coast.

It was an amazing experience and I was hooked from then. I have met lots of Olympians and Paralympians that I now call friends. Tim Hodge, Jesse Singles, Josh Alford, Ashley van Rijswijk, Ella Jones, Liam Schulter and Taylor Cory have all been amazingly welcoming. Mitch Larkin took time to talk me through my cool-down process, Taylor McKeown is an awesome friend who helped me with nerves and race prep at the big meets. My coach Yuriy really understands paraswimmers after training a squad of parathletes at the AIS for a number of years.

My disability has afforded me many opportunities that I would never have experienced otherwise. With Yuriy’s guidance, I was able to break the S9 open 1500m short course freestyle Australian national record at 48 years old. My support team at momentum sports and rehabilitation have been there since the beginning. I use walkwise walk aides to get around on land and through physiotherapy I am strong and confident in the water. TYR Australia, Audio-technica, Barney Cools and Swim Skin Body have all provided goods to support me along my swimming journey.

I am proud of what I have achieved and am thankful to everyone for their support and encouragement along the way. Don’t stop when you are done, stop when you are finished. Nothing is impossible.

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