Benefits of Swimming for People With Disabilities
As the United States becomes more inclusive, people are eager to make more activities accessible for people with disabilities. One such activity is swimming. People with disabilities often don’t participate in traditional team sports because they can be difficult to modify, but swimming has fewer obstacles. In fact, swimming helps people with disabilities feel more independent, increases their physical strength and stamina, and carries many other benefits.
The Benefits Themselves
No matter your disability or swimming level, you can benefit from time in the water. A pool setting can accommodate almost any disability, including orthopedic and mobile difficulties, blindness, deafness, and cognitive disabilities. Swimming and water activity benefits include:
Improved stamina and muscle mass/tone. People with disabilities such as cerebral palsy, spina bifida, or muscular dystrophy often struggle with athletics because of rigid or loose “floppy” muscles. In the water, muscles and limbs are easier to move. Since water activity has a cardio component, participants can stretch muscles and increase their stamina. People who need to lose weight or gain muscle mass may find these goals more attainable through swimming than other sports.
Decreased focus on sensory issues. A blind or deaf person may feel out of control on land because he or she is bombarded with strange sounds, unfamiliar terrain, or many people talking at once. In a pool, these sensory issues are reduced or eliminated. Pool owners can use flashing lights to alert deaf patrons to important announcements. Blind swimmers can sign up for private lessons or undergo orientation therapy to help them navigate the pool.
Increased self-confidence and independence. Most people with disabilities spend their lives being told what they cannot do. Teaching someone with a disability to swim or otherwise enjoy water increases his or her self-confidence. Enjoying water or swimming well gives the person something he or she excels in and makes it easier to imagine independence in other areas.
Making Your Pool Accessible
If you want to make your pool accessible for these individuals, keep these tips in mind:
- Make sure you have wheelchair-accessible entrances and exits, such as a ramp instead of a ladder.
- Use lights and visual cues to alert deaf patrons to important information.
- Give blind patrons tactile cues, such as ropes they can feel or noises they can listen for to tell them they have gone beyond a comfort zone.
- If needed, designate private lessons or quiet times for patrons with autism.
- Simplify swimming instructions for persons with cognitive disabilities, without patronization.
For more information on setting up a pool or making one accessible for those with disabilities, reach out to Pools of Fun today.