Swimming can be an amazing sport for somebody who is blind or has impaired vision. A number of adaptations can be made to make it easier for everybody to jump into the pool.
Here are some top tips for blind or visually impaired individuals when swimming.
1. Count your strokes
If you are worried about hitting the edge of the pool after a lap, count the number of strokes it takes you to swim one lap. This way, you can count each time you start to swim, so you know when to slow down as you reach the end of the lane.
2. Look for lane markers
These are usually brightly coloured balls or floating devices that are easy to see from afar. They help you identify where the lanes are in the pool when you’re by yourself.
As with anything, practice makes perfect. Swimming regularly and getting used to what it feels like to do laps with or without clear vision is key to improving anybody’s swimming technique. The more you do it, the better you will get.
4. Use tappers
Tappers are people who act as experienced guides. They observe you and keep you on track by gently tapping you with a long pole if you swim out of your lane. Usually, the end of the pole is made out of foam, so it’s nice and soft!
Blind swimmers avoid colliding with the end of the pool using tappers, who stay synchronised with them throughout the lap.
5. Stay in a group
This is particularly important if you are swimming in open waters. Stay in a group of people, or with a partner, who can guide you and make sure you stay safe.
If you need some inspiration, there are so many incredible stories detailing how people who were born blind or have lost their sight during their lives, have gone on to be successful swimmers.
This YouTube video shares the inspiring story of a blind, paralympic gold medalist swimmer.
This next YouTube video features a blind child who became a successful Paralympic swimmer.
This article is written by a blind woman who has been swimming since the age of four. She had to learn to adapt her swimming style so she could continue swimming with her deteriorating site.
Being visually impaired or blind does not mean you cannot swim by any means. As the stories above show, anybody is capable of swimming, whether that is recreationally or professionally.