We quite often host a swimmer with a disability on our trips and we are proud to say that most of them have had a wonderful experience and do return to our holidays.
Usually such person would be accompanied by a friend or partner that look after the person with limited mobility. Our team also pays extra attention on such trips.
H2open magazine from the UK has recently published a great article written by Jonathan Knott who has been our trips before and writes about several swimming events. Please read below what some of our clients told the magazine.
Elen Evans has Multiple Sclerosis (MS), which restricts the use of her legs. She has trouble with balance when walking and normally uses a tricycle to cover longer distances. “It gives me so much freedom that I don’t have otherwise,” she says of swimming.
She had been a regular swimmer for about 10 years when in 2013 she went on a trip based in Slovenia with Strel Swimming Adventures. It was her first time swimming in open water and she felt some initial nerves. “I didn’t know how my body was going to respond and how other people were going to respond,” she says. In the end, she found the trip a “wonderful experience”.
She adds that the attitude of the guides was key to her enjoyment.
She sometimes feels people don’t know how to react when she says she has MS and make an excessive fuss. But on this trip she appreciated being encouraged to keep going, even when she was tempted to give up. At one point she said she wanted to get out when she was swimming alongside the boat in a lake in Austria. “They kept me going for the last little bit, so I ended up doing the whole thing – I was really chuffed,” she says.
Giovanna Richards, a guide on that tour, says that an ability to adapt is always crucial for tour operators, as all people, whether able-bodied or disabled, differ in what they feel comfortable doing.
In this instance she accompanied Evans in the water, taking an inflatable buoyancy aid with her which the swimmer could rest on if she needed to.
The company also arranged for Evans to do a shorter version of some swims – but the timing worked out so that everyone finished at around the same time. “The last thing you want is for someone to feel like they’re a problem,” says Richards.
Another swimmer with MS, Lynne Parker, went with Strel Swimming Adventures to Croatia and had a very positive experience – swimming every day even though she was not necessarily planning to. “It was much, much better than I was expecting,” she says – and hopes to do more swimming trips. The company were happy to take her wheelchair (which she needed to get from the hotel to the boat) on board. One difficulty was getting back into the boat from the water, but she found that wearing water shoes made things easier. “People would have hauled me out but I had my pride and wanted to get out by myself,” she says.