View Full Version : Guiding visually impaired swimmer in open water

June 23rd, 2011, 03:24 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 (i.e. how to tether without constantly getting tangled), and/or a quick lesson on how to provide directions. My partner is completely blind so I cannot rely on visually cues (bright colors, etc.).


June 25th, 2011, 04:19 PM
I don't have any advice for you, but just wanted to say that it's awesome you are doing this and I wish you luck and hope you both have a great time.

June 25th, 2011, 06:33 PM
Does he have a dog? They use a lot of labs for guide dogs and labs are formidable swimmers. Of course, that wouldn't be a quick training job.

June 26th, 2011, 03:50 PM
Thanks for your support gang. I provided directions from my partnerís 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.

June 26th, 2011, 03:57 PM
That is completely inspiring. I am in awe--of you both.
Thanks for letting us know how it went. Were you with him on the bike and run too? How did that work?

June 26th, 2011, 04:53 PM
Hi Sydned,
Thanks so much for your kinds words. The post you left last week was very helpful because it helped me with my confidence.

Yes, my partner and I rode a tandem together. My thought was to keep the seat a little lower because I wasn't as comfortable pilotting as I'd like to be. About 1/4 mile in my knees let me know I had the wrong idea. :-)

The run went well because my partner has run several marathons in the past so he was able to keep a steady pace.

And BTW, not to preach, but be in awe of my partner, absolutely, but please not of me. You'd be surprised how much help organizations like dare2tri, U.S. Blind Tandem Cycling Connection, and other great organizations could use. Whatever your speciality or interests and whatever the group--they'd definitely appreciate your help. I help with kids swim classes and can assure you I am a just okay swimmer.

Thanks again for your interest and kind words.

June 27th, 2011, 09:21 PM
Wow! I had no idea those organizations were even out there. Very cool. I will look into it as I love the idea of being able to work with someone as they meet a challenge that seems so insurmountable to the rest of us.

By the way, I'm not a big reality TV watcher, but there's a new show called Expedition Impossible and one of the contestants is a blind man from Colorado, Erik Weihenmayer, who was the first blind man to reach the summit of Mt. Everest. Totally amazing to see what this man can do.

Thanks for the update on the rest of the race! Can't wait to hear about your next experience doing this! And maybe one of these days, I can share one of my own!

All the best,