View Full Version : How to help a friend get comfortable in the water

November 12th, 2008, 05:54 PM
First of all, as a new poster, I would like to thank everyone for all the advice and support this forum gives to new/returning swimmers. Getting back in the water is tough, and this website has helped a lot!

In getting back in the water recently, I've invited a bunch of my friends along, including a housemate, who, since birth, has been without the lower part of her left arm (lacking hand and forearm). She really wants to swim with me, but I've noticed how frustrated or left out she gets. She mentioned that she has never learned how to dive, so we worked on that a little, but holding a streamline is hard. The other night I encouraged her to do some kicking exercises, which she enjoyed, but what next? How do I introduce strokes to her when her arm motions are so imbalanced? Is there a way to help her?

Thank you to anyone with suggestions,


November 16th, 2008, 11:18 AM
Sidestroke. She can use her good arm to stroke. The stroke should be horizontal and the short arm can be held at her side.
This is the old lifeguard stroke. It is quite powerful.

November 16th, 2008, 05:55 PM
My niece also has one arm that ends just below the elbow. I took her to swimming lessons while she lived with me a few years ago and she learned to swim. Learning rotary breathing was hard because her natural inclination was to breathe to the long-arm side, but then she'd just stop because the pull from her short arm was not very powerful. Breathing to the short-arm side worked better. She liked kicking, either on her front resting her elbows on a kickboard or lying on the long-arm side with her arm over her head and her short arm down against her torso. I've seen photos of athletes with similar arms swimming in the Paralympic games too.

November 18th, 2008, 11:13 PM
Thanks - that's helpful. You mentioned the paralympics, which brought me to this video (http://www.adwebb.com/olympics/watch-video/6nR49LwmAqo/videowildman/2008-us-paralympics-swim-trials-ii.html). Amazing stuff.

November 19th, 2008, 10:37 AM
I don't know the girl, but there is an age group swimmer that is missing her forearm and hand- she's about 16 and I'm always amazed that she keeps up. I'm even more amazed that she can put her swedish goggles on! So although I can't give you advice like some others, I can tell you that it is possible and can be learned. Good luck!

November 19th, 2008, 12:07 PM
I have a friend who lost half his right arm, lost three fingers on his left hand and his right foot in a hydeo electric accident. He was very upset with this as he was a training partner of mine when I was training for marathon races. When he was scarred over and healed enough to get in the water I continued to do my workous with him. He was pretty slow at first but became very proficient as time went on. He was able to get his time down to swim a 24 minute mile.