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Giles after completing the London Marathon

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15-09-2023
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Man paralysed at pool party aims to complete London Classics at Swim Serpentine

Man paralysed at pool party aims to complete London Classics at Swim Serpentine

A man who was paralysed after jumping into a swimming pool at a friend’s party will cap a remarkable physical feat at Swim Serpentine on Saturday when he completes the London Classics.

At a friend’s party in 2019, Giles Taylor dived into a swimming pool believing it to be deeper than it was. His friends saved his life by rescuing him from the water but he was later diagnosed in hospital as being paralysed from the neck down. 

Giles, 27, from Exeter, said: “It felt like somebody had pulled out a plug. In life, nearly everyone will have something terrible happen to them or a loved one, it is just a matter of when and what. As I was lying there, I was thinking ‘is this the terrible that I’ve been dealt? Is quadriplegia going to be my life from now on?’” 

Initially, doctors at the hospital said they were unsure if Giles would ever walk again. Having grown up in a sporty family, regularly attended the gym and signed up to run the London Marathon prior to his accident, it was scary to think he might not walk again. 

He said: “As with anything in life it’s the unknown that’s particularly scary but that can be the fuel for so many things!” 

After five months in hospital, Giles slowly started to relearn how to move his arms and legs. His previous fitness aided him as he made amazing progress, from first sitting to then walking before eventually being able to run once more.   

Giles’s own father suffered a similar vertebrae injury when he was Giles’s age, and while his father’s injury didn’t result in spinal cord damage, his story offered Giles reassurance that he could recover.  

“I moved away from waiting to heal to knowing that I needed to do something about it,” he said. “And in the nicest way possible I had people around me in hospital in a worse position than me so what was my excuse?” 

He not only set his sights on learning to walk again, but on completing the London Marathon after deferring his place due to his injuries.  

He said: “The only people I told I was going to run the London Marathon were my brother, whose confidence in me never wavered, and Sarah my physio who was great, but her response was ‘I think we’ll get you walking first, Giles!’.” 

He finally took on the 2021 London Marathon, completing the course in six hours and 30 minutes. Invigorated by his success, he continued to take on challenges including the 2023 Ford RideLondon-Essex 100, which he completed in under eight hours and the Three Peaks challenge. Now he has set his sights on Swim Serpentine to complete his London Classics. 

He said: “I don’t think challenges like these are easy for anyone! Would it be fun if it was? Things don’t work anywhere near as well as they did but I’m still grateful for where I am.”