Float like a rock? I don’t think so. People with paralysis can do some pretty magical things in the water, and the water can do some pretty awesome things to us as well. But a lot of folks with spinal cord injuries really don’t like the water. And the biggest reason we’re scared – we can’t swim (or we think we can’t rather).
This is why you got to check out our H20 inspired adaptive water sports videos below, including an amazing video of a C6 quadriplegic who’s learned how to swim completely on her own (and with none of those silly floaties that always get in the way and always poke you in the face).
Our first video is pretty much the fantasy I have in the dead of winter each year – a tropical paradise where no one gives a sniff about litigation. Meaning – they’ll let quadriplegics go on their waterslides. This is the awesome opportunity that Chris Colwell, a C5-6 quad (and active member of SPINALpedia (who’s made 600 plus videos) took advantage of while living the high life in Dubai. The world famous Atlantis Resort has a location there, and they have a huge water park called ‘Aquaventure,’ which includes a super fun rapids ride.
In Chris’ video (with the camera strategically placed on his lap), watch as he rides the rapids at this unbelievably beautiful water park. And he rides in a double tube with his PCA behind him (there to grab him just in case the rapids get too crazy). Holy cow am I jealous. Watch his video and pretend you’re there
In our second H20 video, Ali, a 29 year old C6 quad, shows off her amazing swimming skills in her favorite pool in Coconut Grove, Miami. She shows the three different strokes – butterfly, freestyle, backstroke – she’s learned do without any devices or floaties taught to her by her swimming instructor Hortenzia, a disability swimming coach referred to her by her friend, Sabrina Cohen (a SCI Superstar profiled here). Ali says she’s learned how to hold her breath for 2 minutes since her lessons. Crazay. Watch her swim like a fish
Our third video may belong in America’s Funniest Home Videos, but boy does he have some guts. His name is Garrett Laubscher, and he’s a paraplegic from Richmond, Virginia. He found the insane courage to go on a ‘Flowrider’ (an indoor wakeboarding ride) at Great Wolf Lodge (an indoor water park) in Williamsburg, Virginia.
In his short yet hilarious video (most likely spurred by his kids egging him on), Garrett hops out of his wheelchair and onto a wakeboard (that he gingerly gets on as the rapids are going at full strength underneath him). As you can expect, he doesn’t last long on the board, but the time he’s on it looks incredibly fun (but that doesn’t mean he doesn’t get a gold star for trying). Watch Garrett ride the Flowrider machine
With warm weather almost here, hopefully these videos have inspired you to look at water a bit differently and explore adaptive water sports. From feeding that part of your brain that still craves (no needs) adrenaline-fueled awesomeness (that tube ride can definitely give you that in spades) to taking advantage of the zero gravity effects of water, go get out in the water this year. I’ll be doing it too (so let’s share notes).
Do you still swim? Have you found a water park that lets you go on the rides? What are your favorite adaptive water sports?
Watch the videos!