Comeback kid: 2014 world coastal champion coming to Canada for 2018 WRCC after 3 heart surgeries
Swedish coastal rower Peter Berg is heading to Canada aiming for a medal, hoping to complete a comeback after his third heart operation.
In 2008, he was diagnosed with a condition called atrial flutter. It means his pulse can rush and become irregular especially at maximum effort, causing him to lose consciousness.
At one point, doctors told him to stop rowing. Unwilling to allow a small thing like atrial flutter to get in the way of competition, Berg had his first heart surgery in 2011. Just two months later he won a bronze at the World Rowing Coastal Championships in Italy.
In 2013, he won a second bronze at the Worlds in his hometown of Helsingborg while still mourning the sudden death of his mother. Frustratingly, his heart problems returned in 2014 and he was hospitalized. Doctors treated him with a defibrillator to get his pulse back in order. They said he could return to training at his own risk but would likely need another surgery.
Less than three weeks later, Berg crossed the finish line, achieving his dream of becoming World Rowing Coastal Champion. “First I raised my arms towards the sky, saluting mom,” Berg said. “Then I shouted out a primal scream: 100 per cent adrenaline and 100 per cent joy.”
Fast forward to 2016 and a third heart operation: “My heart surgeon was very happy with the result and very optimistic that my heart will work fine from now on,” Berg wrote on his blog. “Let’s hope that the third time is the charm.”
In 2017, Berg appeared to be back in top form, winning three coastal competitions in England and Denmark. But he suffered a back injury six weeks before the championship.
“Even if I hoped that I would come back in time for the WRCC, I lacked the power and speed necessary for a top performance,” Berg said. “With a poor back, I hoped that the conditions would be rough so I could use my technique and experience in waves,” he said. “But unlucky for me, it was the calmest championship so far.” He made the A-final, but finished a disappointing 14th.
Berg has been to every World Coastal Championship, including as a coach in 2016. He will have some speedy company at the Worlds in Canada: his fiancé is the top Swedish female coastal rower, Maria Pelven, and his teammate Dennis Gustavsson is also planning to make the trip to Canada.
When asked his goal for the 2018 WRCC, Berg is clear: “The plan is to compete and contend for the medals.”
And that would just add to an already impressive comeback story.
Berg is also involved in organizing the Swedish Rowing Coastal Championships on July 7-8, 2018 in Helsingborg, Sweden.
To find out more: www.peterberg.se
Swedish Rowing Coastal Championships on Facebook