Swimming with Multiple Sclerosis
Why do I swim?
I swim because I can. When multiple sclerosis hit, I found that an increase in core body temperature caused a flare up of my symptoms. My balance was also affected as well as my vision. This meant no more running, biking, hiking, climbing, ball sports, even gym work was challenging. I could no longer do most of the things I loved to do before my diagnosis. But swimming was a wonderful outlet for me. The cool, weightless environment was perfect for me. Luckily, I have swum all my life and am very comfortable in the water, whether it be the pool, the sea or fresh water.
Swimming allows me to still be active and competitive, and these aspects of the activity are important to me. They are a part of who I am, and make me feel purposeful and alive. On an emotional level, they create a feeling of belonging and achievement. As an added bonus, they improve my mood and decrease my stress. I train a few times a week, making sure I listen to my body. I don’t try comparing myself to others, and make goals based on my ability and capabilities. Management tactics on the day of a competition include letting the event medics or organisers know I have MS, and ensuring there is someone at the finish line to help me out of the water if needs be.