As a kid, I was always a pretty avid swimmer. We didn’t have a pool in our backyard (a pipe-dream of mine), but during the summer we were never far from a beach or a local pool. My parents called me their “little fish” and would swish me around the water while singing On Moonlight Bay. They sang that same song while trailing behind my gurney as I was led to the OR to have my left leg amputated, only a week after my heart attack. That part of our Dateline episode still makes me a little misty-eyed.
But enough tears.
It was 15 years before I went in a pool again (another story I am working on), and a few months later, the ocean. So when the Challenged Athletes Foundation approached me about their swim clinic, I was more than ready. Those pro rainbow goggles I’m wearing mean business.
I had the incredible opportunity to get instruction from elite swimming coach and athlete Alan Voisard, who has competed in races in a few bodies of water you may or may not have heard of such as…the English Channel? Coach Al was motivating, highly informative, and hilarious.
The water gives you freedom of motion as an amputee, but also a little imbalance. My instinct was to want to kick in order to propel myself as much as possible, but instead, I needed to use my arms as my primary power source. web search history Much of our work involved staying in tune with the direction my body wanted to lean and adjusting.
I practiced the backstroke, free style, and front crawl.
Many laps later, CAF’s Director of Programs Mark Sortino, Coach Al and I posed for a shot. I’m excited to practice my new techniques, but probably what was most meaningful for me that day was that my parents came to watch me. It was the first time they’d seen me swim in 17 years.