• Author:
    Richard Weil, MEd, CDE

  • Editor: William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR
    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.

What about swimming with disabilities?

Water is a great equalizer. It supports body weight, and with proper flotation devices, most anyone can exercise in the water no matter what the physical disability. Check locally at Y's, recreation centers, and other pools for opportunities in your area, or click on the USA Swimming Web site (http://www.usaswimming.org/) to learn more (click on the "swimmer" tab and then "disability"). In addition to recreational swimming, the United States Paralympics Swim Team offers athletes with disabilities (amputees, blind/visually impaired, spinal-cord injured/wheelchair, cerebral palsy/brain injury/stroke) the opportunity to compete internationally in swimming. Swimming is an activity for virtually anyone who has the will and desire to do so.


There you have it. Swimming is an activity that builds strength, endurance, and muscle tone. It's an activity that you can do all year long, inside or outside, burning lots of calories. You can share it with your family, it's low-impact (just in case your bones are creaky), and you can do it until you're 100! It's not too late to start if you never learned how (learning new stuff is cool even when you're adult!), and for those of you who can swim and would like to compete, that's available as well. All in all, swimming is a winner, and if you have the inclination, I suggest that you go for it!

What resources are available to people interested in swimming?


http://www.ymca.net/ (Click on aquatics to learn more about infant-parent classes, preschool classes, classes for people with disabilities, classes for teens, and competitive swimming for people 18 and over.)

http://www.arthritis.org/ (Check for water classes in your area.)

http://www.usaswimming.org/ (Click on the "swimmer" tab and then "disability.")





http://www.junonia.com/home.htm (large-size swimsuits for women)

http://www.wholesomewear.com/slimmer-c.html (large-size swimsuits for women)

http://www.bigmen.com/ (large-size swimsuits for men)

http://www.big-tall.com/ (large-size swimsuits for men)

http://www.bigandtallguys.com (large-size swimsuits for men)

http://www.swimoutlet.com/ (swim gear)

http://aquajogger.com/default.htm (swim gear)

http://www.shapeupshop.com/aqua/hand_buoys.htm (water dumbbells)

http://www.power-systems.com/ (water dumbbells)

http://www.activeforever.com/ (water treadmill)

http://www.endlesspools.com/index.html (water treadmill—propeller method)


Medically reviewed by Avrom Simon, MD; Board Certified Preventative Medicine with Subspecialty in Occupational Medicine

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http://www.aap.org/advocacy/archives/aprswim.htm July 27, 2007.
http://www.jacklalanne.com/ July 26, 2007.
Encyclopedia of Traditional British Rural Sports, Routledge; first edition, August 9, 2005, pp 255-6.
Holmér, I. Oxygen uptake during swimming in man. J Appl Physiol. 1972 Oct;33(4):502-9.
Lavoie, J.M., et al. Skeletal muscle fibre size adaptation to an eight-week swimming programme. Eur J Appl Physiol Occup Physiol. 1980;44(2):161-5.
Martin, W.H., et al. Cardiovascular adaptations to intense swim training in sedentary middle-aged men and women. Circulation. 1987 Feb;75(2):323-30.
Pediatrics, Vol. 105 No. 4, April 2000, pp. 868-870.
U.S. Bureau of the Census. Statistical abstract of the United States: 1995. 115th ed. Washington, DC: U.S. Bureau of the Census, 1995.

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