High-Tech Pump Helps Three Type 1s Swim the English Channel

On July 21, Claire Duncan was one of three people with type 1 diabetes on a six-person relay team that swam across the English Channel. The team, swimming to raise funds for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, covered the 22-mile route in 13.5 hours, starting from a beach between Folkestone and Dover in England and finishing in France near Cap Gris Nez, between Boulogne and Calais.

Duncan and her two teammates with diabetes, 44-year-old Mark Blewitt and 37-year-old Matt Cox, were equipped with the waterproof Animas® VibeTM, an insulin pump that combines with the Dexcom G4TM Sensor continuous glucose monitoring system. The system delivers real-time glucose information, including alerts for high and low readings and glucose trends, allowing users to make informed, on-the-spot decisions about insulin doses and glucose control.

Recently in Lisbon, Portugal, Duncan discussed the relay with delegates to the 47th annual meeting of the European Association for the Study of Diabetes. Besides offering highlights of the grueling swim through cold waters (15°C-18°C/59°F-64°F), complicated by entangling seaweed and menacing jellyfish, she brought delegates up to speed on the JDRF’s current research into technologies for dealing with type 1 diabetes and the search for a permanent cure.

Each of the three swimmers, who joined three nondiabetic teammates, has lived with type 1 diabetes for 10 or more years. They are all avid athletes, engaging in strenuous endurance sports. Blewitt, the relay team captain, has successfully completed open-water swims in Lake Windermere and Loch Lomond in Great Britain, and across the English Channel and the Strait of Gibraltar.

Cox recently competed in a 10K run in Manchester, England, while Duncan has completed more than a dozen marathons. She recently finished an Ironman triathlon that included a 2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bicycle race, and 26.2-mile run.


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