Everyone Into the Pool

Once more a misadventure got me to thinking about ‘things’. I got out kayaking a little bit today. Coming in, a gentleman was trying to help me and I hurried a little too much. I hurried myself right into the drink!

Not a serious problem. I was only a few feet off shore and there were people there. I am still a decent swimmer. Made me wonder, though. Do blind people swim in open water?

VisionAware, a part of the American Foundation for the Blind, strongly recommends the buddy system. In fact their article calls swimming with a partner a ‘must’. If you get separated in the surf, swim in the direction of the waves. Listening for sounds can help a visually impaired swimmer get to shore. If there is any vision left, buildings, flapping flags, and lights can help with orientation.

The people at AFB much prefer we swim in a pool or body of water that is confined and not awfully large. In the end that, again, generally means a swimming pool.

If my pool ever gets its new liner (tomorrow? It was 92 degrees Fahrenheit without a cloud in the sky today!) I could string a lane divider to keep me from going all caddywhompus. I could also put a bright-colored beach towel or other marker at the end so I don’t swim right into the wall.

If you are a competitive swimmer as I am not, you can use a person called a ‘tapper’ to touch you right before you hit and to signal the flip turn. Counting the average number of strokes you make in a lap is good for non-competitive swimmers but will slow down those who are competing.

If you haven’t considered water exercise as a visually impaired person, maybe you should. Swimming is great, aerobic exercise for young and old. Classes in water aerobics and even just swimming can provide great opportunities for socialization. Also, remember mastery as a wonderful emotional regulation skill a la DBT?

Learning to swim or even just getting up the guts to get into the water after a vision loss, is a serious accomplishment.

Once again our friends across the pond are putting some cool stuff out there. Britain has an organization called British Blind Sports, at britishblindsports.org.uk, of course. Their visually impaired friendly swim program sounds exciting. They offer a whole training program for coaches. This program also includes information for qualifying for the Paralympics.

Once more I looked for program serving us ‘mature’ folks and found mostly stuff for kids. If you are near a YMCA or a JCC (Jewish Community Center) with a pool, call and ask. That brochure with training ideas from British Blind Sport could be a resource for a swimming instructor with no experience with the visually impaired.

Remember the more fit you are, the healthier you will be. The healthier you are, the longer you keep your independence. Water exercise can help you to achieve these goals.

Now, everyone into the pool!

Next: coming soon!

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