“The water doesn’t know how old you are” Dara Torres
Nor does it know if you are disabled. My daughter has a disability-spina bifida-and utilizes a wheel chair for mobility. Unless she is swimming. When she is swimming, she is mobile just like the rest of us. As she moves along in the water, her head and shoulders above the water, she is moving just like those she is swimming with. I wonder how freeing that must make her feel.
She has always loved to swim. As a child her legs carried little weight so I had to put little ankle weights on her ankles to keep them under the water, they kept wanting to float up and capsize her! So, once we got the balance straight, she could swim like a fish. And she can out float an otter!
I know I feel free in the water. My arms and legs move so fluidly. I like to feel the movement of the water on my skin.
Some people jump in the water, splash, and swim laps. I might do those occasionally, but mostly I find I just want to float quietly. I lie back and the water cradles my head. But I don’t usually just lie there. I find I want to swirl in the water, side to side; head one way and legs the other with my arms flowing up and down . I am not sure how I look, but I feel great when I do that. Perhaps it is because I can feel so much of the water flowing past and along me. Perhaps it is because it feels so carefree.
Swimming, in this case, reminds me of freedom and strength. This is a time when someone who faces the daily challenges of a crippling disability has the same mobility that I do. Getting into and out of the pool, she is certainly reminded of her disability, but in the water there is no need for leg support. She can swim, or float, or bob along in the water as we all talk and laugh-nothing between us but the same water.
“Water does not resist. Water flows. When you plunge your hand into it, all you feel is a caress. Water is not a solid wall, it will not stop you, but water always goes where it wants to go, and nothing in the end can stand against it. Water is patient. Dripping water wears away a stone. Remember that, my child. Remember you are half water. If you can’t go through an obstacle, go around it. Water does.” Margaret Atwood