James suffers from a genetic disorder called Retinitis Pigmentosa which causes a degeneration of the retina. This disease was diagnosed when James was 16 years old after he suffered from rapidly decreasing vision. He was legally blind at 21 years of age and completely blind by his early 30’s.
As a direct result of his declining vision, James focussed his sporting efforts on the fields of swimming and rowing and during the 1990’s represented Australia in both these sports as a disabled athlete.
In the mid 1990’s James decided to attempt the English Channel after meeting the inspirational Australian swimmer Des Renford and was successful on his first attempt in 1998. He then went on to successfully complete some of the most difficult marathon swims in the world over the next ten years including the Manhattan Island Marathon Swim, The Strait of Gibraltar, New Zealand’s Cook Strait and the Catalina Channel.
In 2010, his accomplishments were recognised when he was inducted into the International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame.
In November 2011, James completed a 12km swim from Malabar to Bondi beach and in September 2012 James completed a swim from Collaroy to North Steyne beach. Both of these swims were to raise money for the Fred Hollows Foundation.
In addition to his swimming accomplishments, James is the Ambassador for the Rainbow Club; a not for profit organisation which offers swimming lessons for children with disabilities, he is also a fund raiser for the Fred Hollows Foundation; which focuses on blindness prevention and indigenous health.
James works full-time for the Australian Tax Office, is married and has a five year old daughter.