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Thread: Swimming. Help me figure out how to do it!

  1. #1

    Swimming. Help me figure out how to do it!

    Hey,

    So I've come to the conclusion that I should probably start exercising after 10 years of sitting on my ass and basically not exercising at all. I've decided to start swimming laps, and I need your help to figure out how I am going to go about this realistically and with the least possible amount of looking stupid.

    I used to swim pretty good, but now it's really super annoying to swim, because I can't do it "the right way". Anybody out there swim regularly? Got some ideas for a modified stroke? If not my plan is to do a ridiculous looking hands only crawl with my legs sprawled out to the sides in their now "neutral" sitting like position.

    But more importantly I've gotta figure out how to get myself into the water. I'm 6' tall, 140 pounds, T8 para rocking an aging TiLite ZRA. I checked out my local pool this morning and it is surrounded by inconveniently sharp, plasticky, non-slip material that seems designed to tear up your ankles/butt, shins, etc during transfers (with safety for ambulatory peeps clearly an afterthought). Then the pool is another foot and a half or so straight down to the surface of the water with no ledge on which to balance myself while getting out of the pool.

    I'm reasonably sure I can get myself to a sitting position on the side of the pool if I use a lane with a ladder and/or diving blocks on it because I will have something over my head to grasp and pull myself up. But I'm quite sure it's gonna be awkward as hell.

    The part I'm really worried about is getting back in the chair while I'm all wet and slippery. Since getting a chair with a higher front end (I think the front of my cushion is something like 22 inches off the ground) I can't do a competent floor transfer in my house without something to brace myself on. Now I'm going to have to figure out a new transfer while wet into a chair on a wet surface where if I slip I go tumbling down onto plasticized sandpaper ready to rip my skin to shreds, and do all of this struggling and injuring myself in public under the watchful eye of bored lifeguards and geriatric former professional swimmers.

    So, after my long winded introduction, here are the specific problems I am anticipating and the ideas for solutions I have thus far. Any further suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

    1. Protecting myself from the sandpaper ground.
    - I was thinking of a towel or a yoga mat or something in front of and underneath my chair. A towel seems like a poor idea because it's bound to get wet and I am going to need 3 towels already just to keep myself and my chair reasonably dry. The only yoga mats I've ever really seen up close were cheap things that seemed to want to curl back up into a roll and were hard to keep in place. This is probably my biggest problem, so if you've got an idea, shout it out.
    - Are there protective type of swim suits, especially for the buttocks area? Maybe there's like a mini wet-suit type of deal that is more just where the swimming trunks would go?
    -For my feet I know there are water shoes. Vainly I'd like something more hydrodynamic since I fancy myself something of a "real" swimmer, but I don't know if there is anything more form fitting that exists.

    2. Getting to the floor. Never a graceful endeavor, nor one I relish doing in public. Some of the diving blocks have little steps off to the side which might provide a reasonable midway pause, but at 6' tall my knees and legs like to sprawl all over the place, which is inconvenient to say the least. I can probably struggle through this one though.

    3. Getting back in the chair once I'm up on the deck. A couple of little steps before reaching the 22" height of my chair would be nice, but I have no idea how to accomplish this in a reasonably portable fashion. Again there is the step cut into the diving block, but those might not always be there and it's a tiny little ledge. I could probably leave the chair beside the ladder which has a rung rising onto the pool deck on either side, but these aren't conveniently shaped to help lift me that high.

    The pool doesn't have a lift, which is too bad, this would save me a lot of effort and injury. No one is going to be going with me, and for reasons of stupid pride and mild paranoia I'm unwilling to accept an alternative that requires another person to drag me out of the water.

    If anybody's got some ideas, let me know. Otherwise I guess this will be an exercise of trial and error, but a little blood loss never hurt anybody? Right?

  2. #2
    Here is an article that explains ADA requirements for pool lifts at hotels and public accommodations:
    https://www.ada.gov/qa_existingpools_titleIII.htm

    Here are some YouTube videos:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=36jHLeIEvsI
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pBUA2pWE3XE
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A8q4mxOLJYQ

    There are dozens of video to watch on line of people with various levels of spinal cord injury swimming. Search "spinal cord injury swimming." Select videos

  3. #3
    Where are you located? Is that the only pool you can access? Does your local parks and recreation dept. have a disabled services division? Have you inquired about adaptive swim programs in your area? An adaptive swim instructor could help you personalize both pool entry and basic pool/swim safety training for you. Often the local MS Society chapter sponsors these, and may be a resource for you. Is there a YMCA or other local gym with a pool that has a lift?

    (KLD)

  4. #4
    https://www.swimoutlet.com/p/desoto-...cy-pant-44552/

    I had someone helping me when I first started. I would pull up next to the ladder with a yoga mat between myself and the ladder with some of it right to the water's edge. I'd transfer by grabbing the top of the ladder (make sure hand/metal is dry) and my other hand would be on the seat cushion. Lift up and over and slowly down onto the yoga mat. Getting out I would do the opposite with a helping hand and have the mat in the water and kind of slide up on the mat holding the hand of the person poolside. For the actual swimming, I use the above suit. They are pricey but mine have lasted about 6 years so far. I took them to a tailor after the first couple of years to install zippers down the sides for easier transition out of them when in a triathlon. They are a bit of a struggle getting out of when you are wet, but if you can wear them to the pool, swim, and then use towels in your car you have the luxury of taking your time at your house to get them off. They provide just the right amount of buoyancy. Without them, my legs just droop down and make swimming impossibly difficult.

    Starting off with a snorkel and mask really helped me get my bearings in the water. When you're paralyzed and swim, your body does a more corkscrew action because the lower follows the upper. Unless you have abs to make your whole body twist when you breathe. I also use a velcro strap right above my knees to keep them more streamlined in the water. I also always have something on my feet when I'm in a public pool, so I don't scrape feet on the bottom (water shoes work fine and are cheap). I also have some for cold water that are meant for surfers.

    I'm still slow as hell in the water but it is a great workout. I ended up buying my own above ground pool and built a deck and transfer bench. I just tie my waist off to the edge and swim against it. Although, now that I am married and not spending time training.. I mostly use the pool to float around and drink cocktails in the summer. Still getting my money's worth out of the pool though. I'm C6/C7 but function closer to T-3/4.

  5. #5
    Quote Originally Posted by gjnl View Post
    Here is an article that explains ADA requirements for pool lifts at hotels and public accommodations:
    https://www.ada.gov/qa_existingpools_titleIII.htm

    Here are some YouTube videos:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=36jHLeIEvsI
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pBUA2pWE3XE
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A8q4mxOLJYQ

    There are dozens of video to watch on line of people with various levels of spinal cord injury swimming. Search "spinal cord injury swimming." Select videos
    DUDE, thanks!

    I thought they would get around whatever ADA requirements are out there because they have a "therapy pool" that is too shallow and too warm for lap swimming that has a ramp and a lift. While it might not help in the immediate future, I can pester them into getting a lift for the main pool, which will make my life so much easier when they finally get it. By my read of the ADA they have to make EVERY pool accessible. (which makes sense, twenty years ago when I was a lifeguard at a similar indoor pool every pool was accessible, including the hot tub - and this is a county pool that was built in 2013).


    Quote Originally Posted by SCI-Nurse View Post
    Where are you located? Is that the only pool you can access? Does your local parks and recreation dept. have a disabled services division? Have you inquired about adaptive swim programs in your area? An adaptive swim instructor could help you personalize both pool entry and basic pool/swim safety training for you. Often the local MS Society chapter sponsors these, and may be a resource for you. Is there a YMCA or other local gym with a pool that has a lift?

    (KLD)
    I'm in South Carolina, and while there are other pools in the area, this is the only one realistically close enough to me that I could get in a workout in the mornings before work without driving all over town. It is the local county pool, so I assume it is under the parks and rec department (not the greatest dept, earlier I posted a link where they said wheelchair operators on the county greenway are required to carry proof of their disability if operating motorized wheelchairs on the greenway), not sure if they have a disabled services division or how this might help if they do. I'm far too much of a know-it-all to permit someone in an adaptive swim program to tell me how to swim (I taught children and competitive swimming for 10 years pre-injury), which I know isn't a rational answer, but it is unfortunately the way my ego is built. I definitely don't need any safety training, I have absolutely no concern about drowning and am quite comfortable in the water. There are some YMCAs in the area, but they are a bit too far away for me to realistically get myself to before work on a regular basis (and are considerably more expensive).


    Thanks, this afternoon I just discovered that something like this was a thing. I think the long legged version would take me too long (trying to get my workout in and showered before work at 8 am), but there is a shorter version that I could wear to protect my backside while getting out of the pool.

  6. #6
    Be sure you wear reef walkers or some other type of swim shoe on your feet too. I have seen skin get pretty torn up when feet unknowingly are scraped along the pool sides and bottom.

    (KLD)

  7. #7
    Thanks everybody. Just went back to the pool ready to raise hell and waive the ADA in their face, but as it turned out it didn't come to that. Apparently the elderly lady working that morning just wasn't aware that there is indeed a wheelchair lift for the lap pool. That ought to save some skin off my buttocks and ankles. It's 6 feet deep so I probably won't even need swim shoes unless I'm right next to the wall.

  8. #8
    i'd wear some old sneakers or at least socks at first. Smooth concrete will tear up your ankle bones.

  9. #9
    Senior Member lynnifer's Avatar
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    Echo that - I used to wear socks at least. I found tying my legs at the ankles together worked for a 'mermaid' action too where I could 'wave' my body. Was taught that in rehab over thirty years ago, but I haven't been swimming in 25yrs due to open wounds.

    I found the backstroke the easiest. Not sure if your legs are floaters or not ... normally men's are not. If they are, you'll be fighting to keep your head above water (at least that was me last time).
    Make America Sane Again. lol

    T-11 Flaccid Paraplegic due to TM July 1985 @ age 12

  10. #10
    We are lucky we have a facility here in Phoenix called Ability 360.

    Its amazing in what they offer including three pools all with lifts and life guards trained in helping.

    I would look to a YMCA/YWCA to start or reach out to rehab facility for direction.

    ADA is not going to help much because there is not enforcement to comply.



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