Gentle swimming with a therapist this post is not. You can leave your floaties and zen music at home. We’re profiling all of the extreme water activities people with spinal cord injuries can do, and even we were impressed. From “barefoot” water skiing to jet skiing, the water can be our playground.
And even better – the world is slowly realizing we are not fragile things. With the right equipment, we can do nearly any water activity able bodied people can do, it just may take a bit more time. Here are three videos we’ve uncovered that exemplify this beautifully.
Video #1: How a Paraplegic Barefoot Water Skis
Mark “Animal” Turner, a grand champion in adapted waterskiing from Buda, Texas, is a favorite of ours here at SPINALedia. We first featured his amazing water skills in our blog last year, where he was doing one heckuva jump in a sit-ski, and now he’s at it again but this time without a sit-ski.
While skiing with friends in Austin, Texas last week, Mark, who’s a low level paraplegic, decided to do something no other paraplegic has done to his knowledge – barefoot skiing. Yup that’s right, the art of skiing without anything except your feet. And while Mark can’t move his feet at all, he’s managed to figure it out by using his shins and the tops of his feet.
After the boat takes off, Mark, while hanging onto a bar that’s hinged to the side of the boat, pulls himself up into position, puts his legs under him, and voila – he barefoot skis for about 20 seconds. Does it look fun? Yes absolutely, and where can I sign up!?
Watch: Simply barefootin it
Video #2: Custom Wetsuit Enables Quad to Swim Freely
Joe Stone has always been a fierce adventurer. A lover of the mountains and everything outdoors, that’s unfortunately how he was injured; while speed flying in Montana. Joe broke his C7 vertebrae, and has been unable to walk since.
Joe however is one very strong low-level quad. Before his injury he had dreams of one day completing an Ironman triathlon, and swim often. After his injury, he still wanted to swim but he got smart – he ordered a custom speed-enhancer wetsuit from Eco-Hydro (they take a whopping 20 measurements). This is a wetsuit only worn by paraplegic swimmers, but Joe wanted to see if he could use it too.
And success was had! He not only put the suit on himself, it helped him stay buoyant in an amazing way. Maybe this should become standard equipment in swimming rehab? I imagine it could help millions of people.
Video #3: Jet Skiing in Agadir, Morocco
Our last video shows a typically standard water sport – jet skiing – but when you add-in the exotic location, Agadir, Morocco, it gets a bit more exciting. The video we uncovered features Olaf Cornelis, a paraplegic with a zest for life.
Olaf is the president of I’m Freee!! Traveling, a new nonprofit from Belgium that’s creating 100% accessible exotic locations for disabled travelers, and the first destination they are ready to offer as a package trip is Agadir.
In this video, he shows how a wheelchair-user goes jet skiing in Morocco, from the helpers on the beach who carry him to the jet ski to his aide riding with on the back for safety precautions.
When you’re paralyzed, things can get difficult, there’s no question about it, but at least in the world of water, there’s a lot we can still do, and the extreme stuff is just the sweet-sweet gravy.
What crazy water sports have you gotten into post-injury?
Watch the videos!