This week, we’re hearing from Daiga, a pool volunteer at another London disability swimming club: Pimlico Puffins. Daiga talks about how she worked with Rohit, who was born without a right arm, to enable him to be comfortable in the water.
Rohit joined the Puffins swimming club in March 2017 with very little swimming experience. I was assigned as the helper for the first block of sessions in order to gradually work on all swimming basics. The first two sessions were spent getting used to the water.
We worked on the following exercises:
- Holding on to the poolside, letting the legs float up so the body is in a horizontal position.
- Floating with floating devices.
- Submerging swimmer’s face and exhaling underwater (trying to increase the exhale with each set).
All these exercises are done to reduce the swimmer’s tension which in turn usually increases the buoyancy.
In the next few sessions, we repeated the same exercises above but added some more advanced ones:
- Holding on to the poolside, floating horizontally and practising different styles of kicking.
- Pushing off & gliding.
- Practising front-crawl sideways breathing while standing in the water.
Afterwards, Rohit started integrating all this together by adding kicks and arm strokes to his push & glide. Due to his missing arm, I adapted some of the exercises and made him work a lot on his balance. We also focused on the backstroke first because the breathing was easier for him in this position.
I am happy to say that Rohit was a very good student. In particular, he always did some online research in between the sessions about the different techniques. He was also going to the pool once or twice a week on top of the Puffins session to practice. His commitment and enthusiasm paid off as he is now a very confident swimmer, although he is always working on perfecting his technique.
I am proud of his great progress overall and his main accomplishment: in August 2018, only 17 months after joining the club, Rohit took part in the Superhero Triathlon. Besides cycling 20km and running 5km, he also swam 750m in open water!
Thank you, Daiga, for sharing your experience with our WeSwim community. We look forward to trying out the exercises you have mentioned in our future swimming sessions and maybe meet you and Rohit at the next Superhero Triathlon!