Get into the Swim!
Many people with disabilities find a new kind
of freedom in water because of water's buoyancy; it reduces a person's
weight by 10 percent and it's low-impact. Thanks to a boon in adapted
sports technology, almost any sport can be adapted and water sports
are often the easiest. One may use a sports wheelchair designed
for sailing, swimming, and even adapted water-skiing. Enthusiasts
may glide over blue waters on a mono-ski or saucer.
Disabled sports organizations offer training and a lot of fun. However, mainstream sports and recreation facilities are not always fully-accessible. So make sure you tour a facility, including the locker room, before joining.
If the management wants to accommodate you, help them problem-solve. Itís not obvious to non-disabled athletic staff. For instance, I found a very nice, accessible facility but the soap and shampoo in the locker-room was positioned too high in the shower for a seated bather. I asked for it to be lowered and the conscientious health club moved it that day! Another time, after moving, I joined what appeared to be a nice, new facility, but the owner was unwilling to change a thing, so he refunded my membership costs. Itís just bad business, so remember, if management isnít open to making the facility work for you, go to the competition!
Some equipment is stored, so you wonít see the floating stairs or lift you need to access the pool. Be sure to ask before throwing in the towel!
Click on one of the links (below) for information about a water
sport that interests you and learn about corresponding organizations.
and Aqua Fitness
Rowing, Canoeing and Kayaking
Please visit our subsection on adapted
sports organizations for even more great places to have fun
and/or learn while enjoying safe, good-for-you exercise. For example,
outdoor recreation programs offer camping and hiking and there are
indoor recreation programs, too. All are structured for people with
and without special needs, so that people may enjoy diversity in
recreation. And for a heads up on equipment for the active life,
see our subsection on all-terrain wheelchairs.
Numerous books and magazines can help get you
started; be sure to see our reading
list. Information for this special section was excerpted from
the periodicals listed there, and, with permission, from Sports
and Recreation for the Disabled, 2nd Ed., by Michael J. Paciorek
and Jeffrey Jones. We highly recommend this very comprehensive "adapted
Special sports guidelines for people with cognitive
disorders or mental retardation, can be obtained from Special Olympics
International (SOI) in Fresno, Calif. The Web site address is www.specialolympics.org.