Novato resident Michael Stompe has always loved the water.
But the 18-year-old was born with a congenital heart defect, making swimming, and plenty of other activities, challenging.
Stompe underwent open-heart surgery when he was just 7 weeks old, but doctors warned against any strenuous activity, according to a recent story in the Marin Independent Journal. So Stompe could only watch from the sidelines as other children joined soccer and swim teams.
But at 14, he underwent another open-heart surgery, which made it possible to put more strain on his heart, according to the article. Soon after, Stompe joined the Rolling Hills Stingrays swim team and worked hard to catch up to his teammates, most of who had been swimming their whole lives.
Next Sunday, September 29, Stompe and his father, David Stompe, who owns Farmer's Insurance Agency in Novato, will compete in the Tiburon Mile open water swim, which they will brave without a wetsuit. Michael clocked in at 32 minutes last year and hopes to shave off his time by at least 7 minutes.
"I'm kind of nervous," Michael told the IJ recently. "I've gone down a few times to nearby lakes to practice with just the speedo and try to get myself used to the temperature of the bay."
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