Again, as I say in every blog post, I cannot speak for all blind people in my blog posts. The point of the posts is to inform anyone who is interested in learning about my condition as one of many types of vlinenew, and try and make my content relatable to anyone—blind or not.
For me personally, just getting in the pool is terrifying. It is harder to see underwater than on land and when your vision is already impaired on land, you are basically blind in the water. I struggle significantly with not lifting my head up in front of me to see; but when you swim, you are supposed to look down at the ground of the pool—something that does not come easily to me.
Despite this I decided, “you know what sounds great, joining a competitive swim team.” By now you may be thinking “jeez, this girl is really sarcastic and rude about the opportunities she has been given,” but actually, I feel the exact opposite. In reality, the challenges of swim provide a physical and emotional benefit for me.
Probably the scariest part of swimming for me is the diving off the block. The block is about 2 feet long and slanted. For someone with full vision it is hard enough to mount. When you have vision loss, you usually have someone beside you in case all things hit the fan. Once you have completed the almost impossible task of actually stepping on, you have to lean forward and just trust that your feet have a strong enough grip to keep you steady. Arms against my ears, I am ready to hit the water. Well, as ready as I’ll ever be.
The whistle blows; “swimmers to your mark” blares the coach standing at the time table. As you wait with baited breath in your “dive” position you hear the “go” siren. It is deafening, the sound reaching all four corners of the pool. You leap in, and start to stream-line when you realize that everyone else is still on their blocks because it was a false call.
That scenario, right up there is about the average day in swimming for me as a blind person. Whether I scrape my hand on the wall or dive off the block early or flip turn too early, it is always filled with constant struggles, but also constant fun.
Swimming is hard, but what isn’t? As a blind person, I’ve come to embrace challenging myself. To tell the truth, even if you are not blind, life in general is hard and challenging but the end result is worth it.
When I started swimming, it felt impossible; now a 200 Freestyle, which is basically 8 laps across the pool feels like nothing. I have lost 17 pounds and I feel better than I have every felt. So yes, swimming is extremely difficult for someone who is visually impaired, but it is worth it. There are definitely struggles, but aren’t there struggles with everything? Some things are worth it.