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Accessing and Making Open Water Swimming Easier for Disabled Swimmers

Ned Denison recently started an organization of volunteers who are willing and able to assist swimmers with physical disabilities.

The chairperson of the International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame who resides in Cork, Ireland explains, “These volunteers are experienced open water swimmers or individuals who would be delighted to help swimmers with adult physical disabilities on long open water swims. The help can be anything from being tethered together to helping in and out of the water.

Asking for help can be difficult. This list is simply an attempt to make asking easier.”

These volunteers agree to not ask for or offer any paid services to be part of this program, but may receive compensation for their travel expenses in order to support or serve as an escort crew member.

Denison continues, “This program is aimed at adult swimmers with physical disabilities who either do not currently have any help or need additional assistance. The volunteer will help in person, virtually online, or via telephone or written communications several times per year in order to offer a variety of services.”

The help can come in all kinds of forms:

  • Help on the swim: crew, swim tethered, help in or out of the water
  • Review long swim plans and preparations
  • Help debrief after a swim
  • Answer questions and provide advice
  • Identify an additional volunteer who may be more local to the swimmer, closer to the swimmer’s age and swim speed, more in tune with the swimmer’s family situation, physical disability, mental outlook, or progression in the sport
  • serve as a Big Brother or Big Sister to build a rapport with.

The volunteers are not generally going to offer the following:

  • Support by attending and/or participating in an open water swimming event
  • Provide stroke analysis
  • Prepare workouts
  • Provide nutritional analysis
  • Offer virtual or in-person hypnotherapy

Denison also points out other potential resources that can help disabled swimmers. “Individuals can join the Adaptive & Disabled Open Water Swimmers (ADOWS) Facebook group (see here) as an alternative place for people to ask for advice.”

The list of volunteers is growing globally:

To be added to this list, contact Denison via email at and view here.

Salvatore Cimmino of Italy is pictured above.

© 2023 Daily News of Open Water Swimming

to educate, enthuse, and entertain all those who venture beyond the shoreline

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