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about

about

about
'chin up or chin down'

I am a Bilateral Above Knee 
Amputee who decided to
get on with life.

31935717044_c4e7ce53f0_n.jpg

If you want to help and support

The snowboard binding project is moving fast and we need support to keep up the momentum.

My name is Darren Swift, but everyone knows me as 'Swifty'. In 1991, after 10 years in the HM Forces, I was injured by a terrorist IED. As a result of the attack, I lost both my legs above the knee. During my recovery and rehab I realised I had a stark decision to make - put my chin on my chest and do nothing or - pick my chin up and crack on with life and whatever maybe infront of me.

Chin up seemed the obvious and only choice and since then I've set myself and achieved a huge number of goals. Some of which included travelling around the world taking part and leading expeditions both with teams, such as The 1997 Coppermine River Expedition in the Canadian Arctic, and on solo projects, like Hand-cycling unsupported across Iceland. Others included becoming a Skydiver and recieving a Gold Medal at the 2003 British Skydiving Championships and more recently, focussing on snowboarding. 

I've also been fortunate enough to join and volunteer with organisations such as Blesma,The Not Forgotten Association, the Royal British Legion and the The Soldiers Charity (ABF). Mentoring soldiers from the wounded, injured and sick community to return to an active and fulfilling, albeit slightly different, life has been and still is hugely rewarding.

Some time in 2005 I asked a friend of mine Dale Rennard whether he thought if double above knee amputees could snowboard. ​Since then we have endeavoured and engaged with a number of organisations, both charitable and commercial, to design and develop bindings that ultimately answered the question. We not only proved it possible but it has been so successful that it created another itch to scratch.

Leading up to 2018, with the support of friends and family along with that of BLESMA and AFPST I set my sights on the Banked Slalom competition of the 2018 Winter Paralympics in Pyeongchang. I trained for over 2 years, with some of the best Paralympic athletes in the world, and climbed the rankings to 11th from 17th in the allocated IPC  classification I was placed in. I did actually gain an IPC qualifying time that could have allowed me to compete in the Paralympics, however, I never was able to get the speeds necessary to qualify for a place on Team GB. 
 

The bindings used to train for Pyeonchang were made from stainless steel and did not have any suspension, every lump and bump transfered directly up my leg and into my pelvis and spine. The result of this interference caused me to have to scratch off speed to reduce longer term spinal/pelvic damage, racing smart to be able to race another day ultimately meant not racing fast enough. 

Since 2018 Dale and I have continued to develop the bindings by trying to focus on including suspension and reducing their weight. With the help and support of the Centre for Modelling and Simulation (CFMS) we have managed to develop a test rig that including suspension weigh lighter than the bindings I used to train with.

So where are we now? - Ultimately working around Covid19 and trying to keep the pace up on recent developments! 


The last phase of development ended in Breckenridge, Colorado in Dec 2019 where we concluded testing of the worlds first pair of 3D printed, suspended snow board bindings for double above knee amputees. The data that we have got is incredibly encouraging. This is seriously 'upping the ante' and the potential to chip away at those times is huge. The nature of the latest developments means we are able to continue to engage and utilise the digital modeling and testing technologies so that when the current restrictions are lifted we are hitting the slopes with an improved test rig. We will incorporate the findings of our latest testing and hopefully take us one step closer to providing a really robust design that can be used by myself and the growing herd of double above knee snowboarders.

If you want to help and support

help and support

Please visit my latest GoFundMe page by clicking the link below.

The site gives you an update on the project and what we are focusing on. Every little helps and everything donated goes into the project or supports growth of the double above knee snowboarding community.

Contact

contact

Please get in touch, I'll get back to you as soon as I can.

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