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Swimming for wheelchair users

Our co-worker Caro teaches young people with physical disabilities how to swim

Hi! My name is Caro.

During the week, I work “on shore” at Swiss Paraplegic Research. This is where I focus mainly on the mental well-being of people with chronic conditions.

Caro during the swimming lesson

When I am off work, I enjoy spending my time “in the water” and I love to share this joy as swimming instructor. Once a month, Swiss Paraplegic Association offers swimming lessons for young people with physical disabilities. The participants are between 6 and 20 years young and join us from all over German-speaking Switzerland.

The lessons take place at the Swiss Paraplegic Centre swimming pool in Nottwil. The participants are split into two groups according to their individual swimming abilities. Each group consists of a maximum of 10 participants and 4-5 swimming instructors each that lead the groups.

Costs for the lessons including swimming badge are CHF 180. Further information can be found using this link (in German).

At the beginning of the lessons in January, the course leader Esther Zünd, together with us swimming instructors, develops an individual plan for each child. Young swimmers, for example, start with getting used to the water, i.e. testing how it feels to be in the water. Later they learn skills from how to dive for dive rings to doing the crawl on the 25-metre lane. Throughout the year training takes place for badges such as the “sea horse”, “polar bear” & Co. Aside from the badges, the main goal is to learn how much fun it is to move in the water!

What I enjoy most during these lessons is that we can come up with all kinds of games in the water to motivate the kids. My favourite is the “Rigi Express Steamboat”! Learning to have a proper swimming and body posture there is done with an exercise where you lie flat on the water surface like a water lily without submerging. Nothing exciting so far – that is why we modified it to become the “Rigi Express Steamboat”. For this exercise the child lies flat on her back and is then pulled from one end of the pool to the other. In doing so, each stop is introduced the same way the stops are announced on the steamboats of Lake Lucerne :smileyhappy:

By the way, Swiss Paraplegic Association does not only offer excitement for water lovers – they offer something for everyone. Check it out: (link in German)

[translation from the original German blog post]

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