Ocean Swimming With Parkinson’s

“Remember the ocean will support you.” I reminded and let go of Andy’s hand. “I’m ready anytime you are.”

The first day was magical.

We walked into the sea holding hands. Andy wore his life vest and snorkel and I work my bikini and swim goggles.

“It’s so warm.” Andy commented as the gentle swell covered our feet. We held hands until we were chest deep. The water was perfectly clear and the sand bottom provided a soft floor.

“Remember the ocean will support you.” I reminded and let go of Andy’s hand. “I’m ready anytime you are.” I said. Andy moved tentatively in the water and I stood in the middle of a wide crescent bay that formed Koana Oa beach. The Mauna Kea Beach Hotel was at one end and a black lava cliff side trail was at the other. There were some other swimmers, stand up paddlers and kayakers all out enjoying this morning.

Andy started off his breast stroke, face down breathing through his snorkel and I walked and swam next to him, sometimes on tiptoe or in a sidestroke to keep up as the water changed depth. I stayed close enough to help if a need arose. Once in a while I’d grab onto the back of his life vest when he started swimming out to sea and redirect him back to parallel with the shore.

Once Andy stopped and stood up while holding my arms for support as he assessed where he was before he continued swimming. His confidence and endurance both increased until he was swimming 1/3 to 1/2 a mile every day for 25 days.

He became at ease enough to swim further from shore into a magnificent area of rocky shoreline that was a haven for colorful fish, manta rays and the occasional sea turtle. When we’d venture out over our heads, I’d be right next to Andy holding the strap of his life vest and ready to tread water and hold him if he had an emergency. He didn’t have any emergencies but it felt good to be prepared.

Swimming strengthened Andy and used many muscles that had been dormant.

Being in the ocean every day was rejuvenating to his spirit on a primal level.

Getting out of the water and drying in the warm morning sun was pure pleasure.

We recommend swimming to anybody with Parkinson’s as long as the precautions are taken to remain safe.

Our experiment turned out to be life changing for Andy and me.

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