Guillow balances hemophilia B and swimming

water polo

Senior Jarett Guillow, who competes on the men’s swimming and diving team, has hemophilia B, a rare blood-clotting disorder — but he doesn’t let that hold him back. Photo by Max Weirauch

At one time in his life, senior Jarett Guillow played five sports. hemophilia B, the second rarest form of a blood-clotting disorder, forced him to chose one. Guillow chose swimming, a sport that allowed him to work with his condition.

“Swimming was my best bet, because I was good at it and because it was what was best for my body,” Jarett Guillow said.

Hemophilia B makes it difficult for blood in the body to clot, which can lead to severe blood loss. This means even the smallest of cuts or wounds could be fatal. While his condition is serious, Jarett Guillow said he tries not to let it phase him.

“I just need to be a little more cautious. If I’m cautious, life is so different,” Jarett Guillow said. “If I’m injured, I need to carry my medicine, which is an IV push.”

An IV push is a syringe, much like an EpiPen, which is used if someone with hemophilia B has sustained an injury. It injects a blood-clotting drug into the body to slow down the bleeding.

Guillow’s mother, Cherie Guillow, said the disease presented a problem growing up.

“We always had to carry his medication with us, because no hospital carries it,” Cherie Guillow said. “If he has an episode, we have to inject him with his medicine.”

Cherie Guillow attended all of her son’s sporting events growing up, in case there was ever an accident where he needed the IV.

“I did the medical issues and the coaches just coached him like any other kid,” Cherie Guillow said.

To stay healthy, Jarett Guillow, a biochemistry and molecular biology major, has learned to work with his condition. Aside from time spent in the pool, he said he stays healthy by running and weightlifting.

“I have to work hard continuously, but if I’m not smart about it, it ends up being a problem,” Jarett Guillow said.

Although injuries presented an obstacle for Jarett Guillow, they didn’t stop him from accomplishing his goals in high school, he said. His senior year he was elected team captain of the swim team and made the California Interscholastic Federation (CIF) – an honor given to student athletes who excel in academics and character- three of his four years in high school.

In his senior season, Guillow is excited to compete without injury.

“Last year, I was injured all season. At championships, I was cleared to compete two weeks beforehand,” Jarret Guillow said. “I’m looking forward to always swimming this year and being competitive.”

At Chapman, Jarett Guillow has earned the All-Academic Southern California Interscholastic Athletic Conference (SCIAC) two years in a row. Guillow’s coach, Dennis Ploessel, said Guillow exceeds expectations.

“(Guillow) has brought a true student-athlete to the team. He’s just an excellent student and still loves to compete,” Ploessel said.
Jarett Guillow said he plans to continue swimming competitively after graduating Chapman and potentially join a masters team.