Disabled people and watersports
I have always loved any water based activity and I am very much a water baby. Swimming has often been my favourite activity since I was a very young child. While I can not swimming unaided, with a buoyancy jacket or other swimming aid I am extremely confident in the water. I am prone to the cold so a short wetsuit or lycra suit is useful to keep my more confident and swimming hats can not be underestimated in keeping my head warmer and making me more identifiable to lifeguards and personal assistants alike.
I believe it is important that disabled people have access to a wide range of watersports but one thing that frustrates me is when well meaning instructors try to ‘tame’ watersports into dry activities. By this I mean that they put groups of disabled people in canoeing or sailing boats in their street clothing, with just a buoyancy aid, and promise them they will not get wet! I mean what is the point?
In same way youth groups are kitted up in all the kit for activities so they can have fun capsizing and getting wet, disabled people should have the same opportunities if they wish. Wetsuits are quite inexpensive nowadays, especially from eBay, and there are plenty of styles of wetsuits to suit everyone’s needs. I prefer the retro style 2 piece wetsuit with waist trousers and a jacket with a beavertail, which fastens between the legs, which I find the easy to put.
With wetsuit boots, helmets, hoods, gloves and lifejackets with crotch straps to put it rising up, it is possible to kit anyone up so they can be feel comfortable and safe on the water and in the water. While it may take a bit of time to change in and out of all this kit, which is an art in itself, it is certainly worth it for the extra fun to be had!