View Full Version : Guiding visually impaired swimmers

June 21st, 2011, 11:55 PM
Help!!! I am guiding a visually impaired swimmer in a triathlon on Sunday 6/26. I know, I know. Please wait until after Sunday to chastise me. :-)

Anyway, I know I can swim on the side or behind my partner--not in front.

Does anyone have any experience guiding visually impaired swimmers in open water? I need basic guidelines, and/or a quick lesson.


Redbird Alum
June 24th, 2011, 11:58 AM
Wow... and did you sign up for this?

How impaired is the swimmer's vision? Is it a distance issue, or near-blindness. Make sure you know, so you don't try to over-manage their swim.

It is most important to work out a signalling process with the swimmer for keeping them on line to the next marker. Verbal and/or by touch. Make sure you are both clear on this, and practice before the swim, so you know how much they adjust to each signal you give.

Touch can be done well from behind, tap left foot for left, right for right. Touch is harder to manage from the side. Verbal is easier from the side, as you keep relative head position with your escort.

June 26th, 2011, 04:06 PM
Thanks so much for your advice. I kind of ended of with a mixture of techniques.

The athlete I swam with is totally blind, but he was awesome. He's run several marathons, so even though he wasn't the best swimmer, he gutted it out. It took him about half the race to find a decent rhythm, but I was very pleased because he put his face in the water the whole time--so at least he understood the basic technique.

My partner tended to drift left because he wasn't as polished with his left so I tried to emphasize the use of both arms. I provided directions from my partnerís lleft side and it took a few left arms to the noggin to realize I didnít need to be so close.

I used a 12' bungee from REI and a couple of old credit cards to tether my partner to me. Credit cards with the bungee worked like the small tube that is threaded thru swim paddles. Thanks to my buddy Chuck for coming up with the credit card idea.

The swim took longer than expected, but we were allowed to start 10 minutes in advance so our start was a lot less crazy than other waves. My partner got into a decent rhythm over the last 500 yards (1500 yard swim) and swam his way right along a swarm of sprint distance swimmers. Definitely got a taste of triathlon swim exit nuttiness.

Thanks again for the advice.