In this week’s blog we will introduce Kenn, one of our swimmers. He has recently joined WeSwim and has kindly shared his story with us.
Kenn suffered a full body stroke during an operation on his neck. The day after the operation, he felt pain all over his body, and while painkillers provided by doctors helped reduce the physical discomfort, they clouded his mind. This was not a life that Kenn wanted for himself, as he wished he could be mobile again and do activities he enjoyed. The physical effects were only part of what Kenn went through, as the trauma of the accident caused him to experience panic attacks. Those memories are dark for him, and it is his friends that he is very grateful for to have helped him throughout in coping with the aftermath.
Throughout this process, my friends were fabulous. They were always by my side, there to offer help whenever something was needed. I could not be more grateful.
Swimming: More than just exercise
Swimming was one activity Kenn was particularly looking forward to resuming. In March 2020, two years after his operation, his physiotherapist allowed him for the first time to start other forms of exercise. Kenn had already planned to join WeSwim. However, just as he was encouraged to take up other sports again, the pandemic had started. Lockdowns were put in place in the UK, the gyms were closed and swimming could not be resumed. It was as if the whole world had stopped in a heartbeat.
Before the operation, I used to love swimming a lot. Whenever I would go on holiday, I would try to swim every day. It feels great to be able to be in the water again.
The pandemic was a particularly isolating and challenging time for him. Now that we are allowed to go back to the pool, it feels great to reconnect to a passion, as swimming always played a significant role in his life.
A welcoming community
Apart from exercising and improving fitness, Kenn shares that he enjoys the spirit of the club, as everyone is friendly and welcoming towards people with disabilities. It is a place where every person feels comfortable to swim at their pace, while forming meaningful connections with the other members of the club, volunteers, and swimmers alike. Kenn has enjoyed his sessions so far, as they all taught him slightly different techniques. One swimming session was particularly enjoyable, as it was focused on building muscle strength. The volunteer he was paired with showed him exercises that were comfortable to complete. In the days that followed, the muscles felt much stronger and the movements easier. He is looking forward to attending more sessions, as swimming provides a safe environment to increase muscular confidence.
The impact of swimming
Overall, he has felt very comfortable swimming and all the volunteers he has met were helpful and kind. In addition to providing a good way to exercise, at WeSwim he finds it helpful to talk to other people and share experiences. At the end of the session on Friday, he met Adrienne, who recommended her online dancing classes. The club is not only about the sport, but also about being part of a community.