As I have mentioned numerous times lately, I am not an outdoors person. It's not just things like camping or going hiking. No, I also have a very normal and healthy fear of the water. (I would say the words “normal” and “healthy” are up for debate in this context.) I have never been a strong swimmer. I think I would actually hinder a person trying to save me if that ever happened. This is why I dread going to a swimming pool with my family. And also because the sun hates me and I burn like a frozen pizza you leave in the oven too long.
But, I know that swimming is an important part of my family DNA. My wife was a lifeguard for many years and is a very strong swimmer. My kids have clearly taken after her because they both love the water as well. Then there's me. I have trouble just getting into the pool if the temperature is any lower than warm bathwater. But, again, it is important to them, so I go along…most of the time.
Not being a huge fan of the water is one thing. But, when you add the whole “being blind” thing on top of it, it can cause some other issues. I fear that I won't be able to save my kids if they are going down too quickly. I fear that I won't know where the edge of the pool is and take a dive myself. It actually makes me somewhat anxious when we are planning a trip to the local watering hole. (Yes, I know that phrase isn't intended for swimming pools, but just go with me…)
Now, maybe you are like me in this. Maybe you have gone through sight loss and you fear these types of things when heading down to the pool. Whether you were an Olympic swimmer or you still use a floatie to keep you up, being visually impaired can cause some fear in this regard. So, I've got just a few tips to help you swim a little safer when planning your next trip to the water park.
1. Swim with a Sighted Friend
Ok, this one is obvious. Go with people that can see. Sounds kind of simple, doesn't it? But, when you are with people that can glance out and find people in the water it can alleviate some of the anxiety you might feel. Now, I know this might not always be possible. But, whenever you can, drag one of your friends or family members along to help keep an eye out.
2. Learn the Boundaries of the Water
The first step is to know the area where you are going. How big is the pool? Is is a certain shape, like a rectangle or circle? Are there diving boards or slides? Having a general idea of the area will help you feel more confident.
Also, it is good to know how the pool is designed inside the water. For example, how deep is it? It might be 10 feet where the diving boards are, but what about the shallow end? This comes in handy if you have young children. If they can touch in the shallow end, you know that might be a safer area to be in on your own. (That's not to say that you can let your young ones go out on their own if they aren't strong swimmers. Make sure to know that first!) This information, along with rules of the pool can make things a little easier.
3. Come Up with Signals
My kids are great about reading my face and knowing if I am looking for them. They will call out, “Yes, daddy?” when I am standing a certain way. I'm not even sure how they learned it, but there it is. These kinds of things can come in handy in the pool.
Perhaps you tell your family and friends that if you are standing on the side of the pool with your arms crossed then that might mean you need some help. You could also do audio signals like key words. For example, you you say the phrase, “Heads Up!” it could trigger your family to all come to you or at least make verbal responses to you.
Whatever works for your family is perfectly fine. But, with certain signals, you can feel a little safer on the water's edge.
The Pool is Cool
Even I have to admit that getting in the pool, splashing around and relaxing a bit can be a lot of fun. While it's not my first choice, it certainly makes for some great memories. So, while I have provided just a few tips here for you, make sure to figure out what works best for you and jump in head first! And, yes, that pun is intended.