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  #1  
Old 01-24-2009
CoachBillL CoachBillL is offline
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Default Working with disabled swimmers

I'm a new TI coach who has recently been volunteering with the Pennsylvania Center for Adapted Sports, a great organization which runs programs enabling people with various disabilities to ski, cycle, row, and swim. So far I've worked with one woman who's blind, one who has Friedreich's Ataxia (which affects coordination), and a guy with MS; in each case, the swimmers loved the difference that even small improvements made in their swimming. I hope to post short accounts of this work, and would like to hear from any other teachers who've had experience of this sort, here or at langw@infionline.net.

My hour with Fran, who is blind, was unexpected, and I had done no preparation, so suddenly I had think how to teach without visual demonstrations. And Fran, who is very smart and verbal, quickly told me that visually based terms like "straight" don't convey much to her, so I had to think of other ways to communicate ideal head position. Mostly this meant being even more hands-on than usual: correcting head position with both hands, several times; stretching repeatedly from hand to hand in streamlining; and so on. Fran's memory for things just learned was excellent, so she progressed about as quickly through the first few TI drill as anybody I've worked with. Remarkable person, and a great experience for me.
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  #2  
Old 01-24-2009
shuumai shuumai is offline
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Wow, you're lucky to have the opportunity to help people in such a way, and I'm sure they appreciate your contributions.

Ah, the Center is only 14 miles (and one bridge) from where I live.
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  #3  
Old 01-25-2009
naj naj is offline
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Wow Coach Bill that's very impressive. It seems that your work can be certainly be rewarding and challenging all at the same time. Your student is a much quicker study than I was when I began the drills. I have the retention memory of a plastic house plant, but I'm coming along okay now :)

Keep up the great work and I'd be interested in hearing more about your coaching as you progress.
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  #4  
Old 01-30-2009
CoachBillL CoachBillL is offline
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Default New challenges

My next student, D., is a very nice young woman who has Friedreich’s Ataxia, an inherited condition of the nervous system which causes all sorts of problems with coordination; she gets around in a wheelchair and gets into the pool via lift, and has a great attitide toward life. She’d really like to swim better, but entreats me not to make her put her face in the water – she’s had a lot of bad experiences inhaling water. (We’ll work on this in future.) I decide to see how it will work to do some things with her swimming on her back: first, relaxing her head back into the water. That works! Next, getting her to calm down her kick, which she does fairly easily. We proceed to sweetspot – extending an arm with a little rotation, which she does very naturally – practice that awhile, both sides. So now we’ve got a little rotation, nice kick, good head position – let’s go for it: I get her to lift the trailing arm a bit, and that works too! Amazingly soon, she’s doing a decent backstroke, with rotation, relaxed head, overlap between the arms, and she feels like she’s whizzing along, compared to how she was swimming before. Problem to solve: when she strokes, her neck tenses, she lifts her head a bit, and her legs sink, so I ask her to alternate doing laps in sweetspot, and then stroking, trying to keep the feeling of the relaxed neck and neutral head postion, and that seems to help.

Next week: nose bubbling, maybe?
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  #5  
Old 03-22-2009
CoachBillL CoachBillL is offline
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Default A new swimmer

For the last two Tuesdays I've worked with S., a young man who had an accident which injured his cervical spine and left him a partial quadriplegic. He swam before the accident, but this was his first time in the water since then. We were working in a deep, not a training pool, which made things a lot harder. For the first hour, I tried to get him ok just being in the water: could he balance on his back? Could he do superman glide? We tried a lot of things and it was clearly scary for him, because he'd really sink and have to fight his way back to air. But he seemed undiscouraged at the end of the session. I thought all the next week about what would work, and remembered Terry's notes about working with an injured athlete; next time with S., we worked on sweetspot a bit (he has a pretty good kick) and went right to underswitch: he needs propulsion. I know everyone here believes in this method, but folks, you shoulda seen this -- it was a small miracle: this guy was swimming! He did 50 yards in underswitch, no problem; and the extra momentum made it much easier for him to roll to air. We worked on Z-drills a while, and he swam a hundred or so with those -- not perfect but pretty amazing. I got out of the water after an hour grinning madly, and I think S. felt pretty good. There are rewards in life that are much better than money.
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  #6  
Old 03-22-2009
naj naj is offline
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Holy Cow Coach Bill your the miracle worker of TI! It mus be amazing to help folks who most of us would assume would have no chance at swimming and then, they're doing better and with little effort than most of us. Please continue to post your progress with your clients, your truly and inspiration.
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  #7  
Old 03-23-2009
shuumai shuumai is offline
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I'd really like to see this work in action. Not just you or just your trainee, but how it all comes together.

Do you think having someone watch would be disruptive? Maybe I'm being selfish though, wanting to absorb some of the energy that radiates from effort and personal success.
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  #8  
Old 03-23-2009
CoachBobM CoachBobM is offline
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One of the most memorable experiences I've had as a coach occurred at a workshop several years ago. One of the swimmers had had one leg amputated, and walked with an artificial leg but had to take it off to swim.

When we videotaped everyone on the first day, he took 51 strokes to make it the length of the pool, swimming with a kind of a cross between freestyle and a dog paddle. Near the end of the length, a couple of our coaches were seriously wondering whether he was going to make it or whether they were going to have to fish him off the bottom.

But by the following afternoon, he looked like a totally different swimmer! He had learned to stay horizontal through balance and was propelling himself by using his core body rotation to power his armstroke. Consequently, his kick became much less important, and therefore it made far less difference that he was missing one leg. He swam the length of the same pool in only 18 strokes!


Bob
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  #9  
Old 03-25-2009
CoachBillL CoachBillL is offline
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More progress with S.: this guy is amazing: we worked on his head position, and that made a big difference, and then we worked a bit on his kick, which was more like a soccer kick and was slowing him down: boom, just relaxing the leg made a huge difference. We worked and worked on having him keep his balance when he rolls to air; he tends to lose it, go upright, and has to tread water until he recovers. But I found that working on just that transition really worked -- he can do it fine once or twice, and having a smaller , more efficient kick made a big difference. He's doing z-drills pretty well -- he knows he's doing well, and for the first time gave me a big smile when he got out of the pool. Next -- rhythmic breathing. I think this guy is going to be a fabulous swimmer. (I should make clear, if I haven't, that S. is a high-functioning quad; his injury left him able to walk and drive, and with good gross motor in his arms. So a miracle it is not -- but pretty good, nonetheless!)

Last edited by CoachBillL : 03-27-2009 at 03:35 PM. Reason: clarification
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  #10  
Old 04-01-2009
Rhoda Rhoda is offline
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Here is an interesting solution to one double amputee's swimming dilemma:
http://news.ninemsn.com.au/glance/75...s-mermaid-tail
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