Water Sports

This month we talked about all things water! We first talked water safety and navigating pool and beach areas. Then we discussed how to adapt and access your favorite water sports, from swimming to kayaking.

July 18, 2019

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Audio Transcript


Get Up and Go – Water Sports

Presented by Elyse Heinrich and Steve Kelley

July 18, 2019

Elyse H.: Welcome everyone to this week's discussion group, Get Up and Go. My name’s Elyse Heinrich, and I'm co-hosting today with Steve Kelley, and I'll turn it over to Steve.

Steve K.: How is everybody doing today? I'm Steve Kelley, I'm one of the learning experts at Hadley, and we want to welcome everyone to this week's Get Up and Go. Our goal here is to provide a forum for the community to share ideas and resources for recreational activities at all different levels, and we hope we've got a few beginners, it sounds like we do.

Did we hear back from Monica? I think you got an email, and we had asked last month if people just kind of would fill us in on how they were doing with their startups. And I know that you got an email from Monica, and I also got an email from Paul in Philadelphia related to water sports. Do you mind sharing what Monica had to say?

Elyse H.: Definitely. So last month, we talked about just taking some baby steps and getting interested or trying out some exercise programs, so Monica was a brave soul who joined us on the phone, and had said that she wants to start, wants to start working out and doing some exercise, and having accountability to that.

So she said she'd check in with us in July, and here we are. Just this morning checked in and said she did start working out a few days after the call. She has a stationary bike that she's started riding for about 10 minutes a day. And she did even meet with her doctor and discussed a schedule. So she's either riding her bike, using the rebounder, it's a smaller trampoline, or going on an elliptical for about 20 or 30 minutes.

So my hat's off to you Monica, and thanks so much for sharing that and holding yourself accountable.

Steve K.: That's great. And Paul sent in just his brief story about swimming, and he said a pool would be a great start for a beginner just trying to get more movement into their day. The water helps support your weight, taking some pressure off of aching knees or hips. Also, the heat dissipates off of the water and keeps your muscles from overheating.

Let's see, often when people start getting into exercise for the first time or after an extended absence, and that's kind of what we were talking about last month, they might feel good during their first workout by jumping into the pool.

So I just wanted to thank Paul for sharing that, and also we've been keeping track with somebody who was a member of the very first discussion group, Barry in Pennsylvania. I don't know whether Barry's on the phone or not. But he kept trying to find a tandem bike, that was his goal, and he must've tried about six or seven different places.

And his persistence was really just something to admire. And a couple of weeks ago he got his first tandem ride after years of not being on a bicycle. And I just want to say my hat is off to Barry, I mean he's an example for all of us with his ambition and his persistence. So congratulations Barry. Elyse?

Elyse H.: Yeah, so do we have anybody else that joined us in June, or just would like to share from today about a new workout or something they've tried in the last month or so?

Oh, we have a hand up. Let's see, Christie.

Christie: Christie.

Elyse H.: Yes, go ahead.

Christie: A few years ago I joined the YMCA, and had a sighted person that was my guide, and it was a really small place. I did fairly well for a few months, and then the guide moved away. And then I was really a little bit apprehensive about going to some of these places and going by myself and not knowing how to adjust the equipment.

But I finally joined a different one that's larger, cleaner, and very friendly, and happened to hook up with the lady who's name is Susan, who had been Tim Cranmer’s secretary for several years. Tim Cranmer, the Abacus man? Cranmer Abacus.

And she really helped, and other staff had been really pretty good about showing me when I ... You have like three appointments a year with the trainers. So she showed me the various pieces of equipment that I wanted to try to use, and a lot of them need very minimal adjustment at this facility.

So I actually worked with my chain and figured out how to use the walking track, where I could put it along between where the floor and the bottom of the rails meet, so that I could tell when to turn, because the rails have pillars every few feet so you can't really hold the rail.

And then I've done the elliptical, the rowing machine, the incumbent bike, swimming, and I would like to do maybe some one on one lessons too, because I'm not so sure…some of these lessons are for little children, and I think one on one for three or four lessons would just really be ideal, because I'm already a swimmer, but I could use some improvement.

And it's just really been nice to be... It takes a bit of courage to go and do it, but if I go to a one stop, and I need a little bit of guidance or help, there's usually a person working out or a staff person who's really good about coming over and helping me out.

I would really like, my really big dream, is to learn how to become a good water skier, a very good swimmer, and to find safe people to go motorboating with.

Elyse H.: Nice, sounds like you have a great start in the aquatic realm, and just using the gym. I like that you checked in with the staff and were able to find someone to help you with orientation and navigating, and probably learning the layout of the gym if you're there a little more often. That's great.

Christie: So if anybody knows any resources, I would sure love to know about them.

Steve K.: I was wondering if you could address the question we had earlier about the participant who was looking for the one-on-one swimming lessons. It sounds like you've found a place that works for you. How did you find it? How might another person find it?

Christie: Well, I don't know if the Y does one-on-one, but every Y is different. Some of them are bigger, some don't have pools. Some of them are more friendly than others. But I just wanted to find one with a pool because to me, that's one of the best aerobic exercises that I could do, and yet I really like ... The best to me exercises are those that don't feel like it, they're just fun.

Steve K.: Sure, yeah.

Christie: And it is a little bit challenging getting help to the pool. I mean it's a huge, huge pool. It has one where there are laps and there are lanes, so you can have your own kind of lane where the ropes divide the lanes, and then it has a little part for families. And then there's a therapy pool, but I think it's through a different door. I mean it can be a little bit daunting trying to find these things.

So if she wanted to call different gyms and fitness places to see if they offered swimming lessons, and then visit them a few times to see if she feels comfortable. Because if you don't feel comfortable, you're not going to keep at it.

Steve K.: Is that one the things that you did when you first went Christie? Did you just check it out to see how comfortable you felt with the staff and the layout and that sort of thing?

Christie: Well, I pretty much committed to go and try to ... The first time I didn't exercise, we just kind of toured the facility. But because I'm using paratransit, a lot of times you've got a lot of time to kill, and you don't know how much time. Are they going to take five people home and you only get two hours, or are you going to have so much time you have too much time?

You know, it's a little bit challenging when you don't have people who can drive or who can do that. But I just felt like I needed to do something with my weight and get me in shape, whether or not I had a guide. I mean for years I just wouldn't go back because I just didn't have somebody, but then I thought well…

And then I'm going to be getting probably another seeing eye dog, my first one being a little bit old, I was a little bit afraid of people stepping on her. But this facility has got quite a bit of space, and I would just use like a tie down or a mat, and put him or her wherever I am.

So I'm going to be doing that later on too, so I guess it's just a matter of seeing... I mean if your health is really important, and you feel that it's one way to stay in shape. I mean of course you don't have to do things in a gym, you can do sit ups or stationary runs.

I took the self-defense course that Ed Haines offers, and there are a lot of different exercises that you can do at home even to just stay in shape. So if somebody doesn't have the financial means to do a gym, or can't get out maybe in a small town, there's not transportation out there, then things like that would be good too, to just keep yourself in shape.

Steve K.: Yeah, I think that's true. I think some people too want that whole social aspect of it as well, so joining the group makes a lot of sense.

Christie: I hope that's helpful.

Elyse H.: It's great. Anybody else who'd like to share their progress or what motivates them to try a new workout or a new place?

Well if you could think of it, feel free to jump right in. Our conversation starter for July is all about H2O, water sports and water related activity. So we'll talk about going in the water, going on the water, so boating and swimming safety 101, and other ways to enjoy some recreation time on the water.

My hope is our community is here to support everyone with recreation and fitness activity ideas as the summer heats up. I know here in the Midwest, the lakes tend to warm up to a comfortable temperature we can wade into, and some of the shallower lakes with sandy bottoms are actually swimmable.

But if you have the right facility, swimming can be an opportunity for year-round activity if it's indoors. Community pools, recreation centers, or sometimes local high schools have a pool or aquatic facility that may host open swim time, learn to swim, fitness classes, for residents in the town or the city.

As we dive in today, my biggest thing is safety's number one. My background, a quick disclaimer, so I'm certified with American Red Cross for teaching swim lessons and lifeguarding and lifeguard instructor and all of that good first aid stuff. I've been doing that for the past 15 years and just absolutely love it.

So today this is a topic near and dear to my heart, because I can draw on a lot of past firsthand experience around pools and with water safety. I really want to put emphasis on that safety is our number one priority when we're either in or on the water.

Like we mentioned, orientating yourself to the area, the pool deck, the beach, or the dock if you're doing some boating or fishing there, is crucial. You can have a staff orientate you to the entries or exits, some of the safety equipment or life jackets, and the emergency equipment and where that's housed. Whether you are a seasoned veteran, or this is your first time going, always know before you go.

So at a pool, you want to familiarize yourself with the depth of the pool, know where the exits or ladders are located, if there's ropes or buoys marking off different areas of the pool, if there's lifeguard stands or where the emergency equipment is. Some pools may have a special attraction, like a slide, a river walk, a zero-depth entry, or plunge pools with strong currents and jets.

So getting an orientation before you're in the water can help give you a mental map. Or in addition, if you're at a lake or a river, ask about the water quality, the depth of the lake, or the size of the body of water and swimming area. Again, that mental map will help you with the layout, give you knowledge about what is all in the area, the general size, where the safe entry and exit points are, and where lifeguard stations are located.

Always swim with a buddy, and stay in the designated swim areas, will help to ensure a safe swimming experience. These are just a few that I took from the American Red Cross Swimming Safety Tips page, which is going to be on our Resource page. I really cannot stress how important it is to be aware of your surroundings and proactive in steps to being safe around the water.

Accidents and drownings happen in mere seconds, so knowledge is powerful, especially before you go to orientate yourself.

And that being said, it's so beneficial to be in the water. Water walking, aerobics classes, swimming laps or just playing around, the water has great benefits for your body. I know we shared a few. Can really help with increasing your muscle strength. Water's a flowing and constantly changing product of nature, and it can be unpredictable in its movement, and it flows in multiple directions. But the resistance of the pool can range from four to 42 times greater than air, so every muscle in your body is getting a workout.

And a study conducted found that after about 12 weeks of regular aquatic aerobic exercise, participants made significant gains in their strength and flexibility just being in the water versus on land.

Steve K.: You know Elyse, that was one of the things that I noticed from Paul's email, which I hadn't realized before, but you can actually do a lot of that exercise, and because of the buoyancy of the water, it doesn't seem to stress the joints out as much as you would if you were doing the exercise outside of the water.

Elyse H.: Oh definitely, it's a low impact, and not taxing on the joints.

Steve K.: It seems like it's almost the perfect thing for somebody who's just trying to get back into some sort of a fitness routine.

Elyse H.: Mm-hmm, mm-hmm. And you're still burning calories with cardio workouts mixed in with that water resistance and the aquatic exercise that your body is getting a full workout. Depending on the level of your cardio activity, if you're running fast in the water, pumping those arms and those legs at the same times, your body can burn up to 400 to 500 calories per hour.

And overall that pressure on your body, the water resistance, helps with your muscles, but it also helps with your blood pressure and helps your blood flow and circulate better throughout your body. Some people have seen a decrease in blood pressure after working out in the water.

Some of us have talked about doing lessons or getting our feet wet with that, some adaptations in the swimming pool. You can use a kick board or a noodle, like a floaty, as a bumper between you and other people, or the wall or different obstacles in the pool. So kind of like a modified white cane of sorts, it can reach out and find the obstacle before your head or your foot does.

If you're in a class, you can stay next to the wall, where you can quickly orientate yourself during the group class. Or if you're interested in taking a class, I'd encourage you to speak with the coach or the teacher beforehand, and you can develop a system to cue you for starts or stops, or when they change the movements throughout the classes.

Some of them will go by the music and they'll follow a routine-

Steve K.: I've got a question about that. I'm just wondering, you were just talking about a class with folks who are both sighted and folks who maybe aren't sighted as well. And these are just accommodations that you might have, like when you were talking about communicating with the instructor.

Elyse H.: Definitely, definitely, mm-hmm.

Steve K.: So just out of curiosity, have you taught any of those classes where you've got a mixed group like that? I'm just thinking that some people may be reluctant to go to just like a general swim class thinking how might I fit in there?

Elyse H.: Yes, I have had the opportunity to teach some of these, and it's great when people check in with me ahead of time. Some people have had hip replacements, so certain movements are just going to be a little bit harder or a little bit stiffer. Some people have had low vision, so we help them finding the ladder and making sure that we're safe when we're coming in and out.

And I stand closer to them for the demonstrations, or they can put their hand on top of my hand and feel the motion, or feel the movement of where we're trying to get to. If it's a swimming lesson, part of the group that I work with, we offer adapted swim lessons. So we have small groups, no more than six swimmers for two teachers.

And then we also have individual lessons, so I know some people were asking about maybe doing some one on one lessons, and I really encourage you just to call your closest facility, whether that's a YMCA or a Red Cross, learn to swim group. Sometimes there's a YWCA that has a swimming pool, or the high school in town has classes offered, and see if you can jump into either a one on one lesson with a teacher or a small group to get that instruction.

Steve K.: The high schools is something that I wouldn't have thought of, although you're right, I suspect many high schools have a pool. Do you know would they have lessons during the summer? Have you experienced that there in Milwaukee?

Elyse H.: Yes, a lot of high schools do offer it because the kids are out of school so to speak, and then they have summer camps running, and they open up programming more for the community during the summer. So some daytime lessons and even evening lessons as well. It would really depend on the staff though.

Yeah, it's hit or miss. Checking in with your coach or teacher beforehand to develop a system to cue, whether that's a whistle or a loud yell or something that you can hear over the water, can help you learn and keep up and then follow along at your own pace. And little by little, you can build your confidence from week to week.

Some aerobic classes use the music set, so you can learn when the music changes, then the motions change. Or even if you have a buddy on the ladder with you who can whisper or tap your wrist when we're doing something different, we can let you know what's going on.

Steve K.: I'm wondering do we have any callers ... I know that there was one or two that were looking for swimming, and Christie shared her experiences. Are there any other callers who have had experiences with either swimming lessons or the pool or something like that?

Elyse H.: Great question, I'll unmute everybody, see if anyone wants to jump in.

Speaker 4: Well, my situation might be a little bit different because I live in a 55 and over community, and we have a pool, and we have water aerobic classes. They're actually put on though by another resident. And when I went the first time, the instructor just panicked to think that there was a blind person that would need some verbal instruction. But one of the other swimmers came by me and explained the different movements, and it didn't take long before I knew when they would just say the name of it, I knew what it was going to be

By the second year, the teacher that was so afraid had no problem at all. She was right in there telling me what we're going to do, so it went really well.

Steve K.: May I ask a question? You know, I think that that's a very typical, although uncomfortable, reaction from somebody. You explain that you're blind, and all the sudden there's that panic, and then there's that nervousness. Was there anything that you did to try to put that instructor at ease? Because I think a lot of people are going to experience that.

Speaker 4: I think just not being upset about it myself, and each time just doing what I could and trying not to make her uncomfortable about it. I think the person that volunteered to help, she was just great, and I think that had a big part to do with it. And of course these are all old women anyway, and so they all need a little extra.

Steve K.: Well I feel sometimes like we have to stay a little bit more in the driver's seat in situations like that. It's kind of funny, we kind of have to take over and help other people relax until we figure out it's really not that complicated. But I do think there is a certain amount of nervousness people feel, and that can be a little uncomfortable.

Speaker 4: Yes, and I guess I could've let it scare me away too, and luckily I didn't. I persisted.

Elyse H.: It sounds like you learned together over the time, you both got more comfortable. Right, and so they're really encouraging to talk with the coach ahead of time, or the teacher, just to check in with them. It's a little less daunting than to retroactively have to be waving for help or feeling so frustrated I didn't get anything out of this because I didn't know what was going on.

Speaker 4: The first Y that I went to where I tried to work with some aerobic lessons, the pool was really echo-y, and there were a lot of other people swimming and yelling and hollering at the same time we had the lessons, and there was somebody with me but she wasn't in the water, so she would kind of try to tell me.

But I just got where I pretty well did some of the things that I could kind of make out that she was saying, but I really didn't like that group very well because the pool and the whole setup to me wasn't that conducive.

But the one that I'm going to now, I noticed that when some of us were swimming, the noise was at a reasonable enough level that I could still hear the lady talking to the kids and instructing people. And I thought well if this wasn't anything like the adult lessons, then it shouldn't be as much of a problem.

Elyse H.: Yes, good point. So the pools inherently are echo-y as it's just a large space and there's not a lot of furniture in there to absorb it. Some other adaptations. We had someone chime in for the chat. You can try a tap stick, which is really just like a broom handle with a piece of noodle at the end of it, so it's not hard, and you can tap somebody on the back of their middle back or their shoulder, to cue them when they're close to the wall or they're going to be changing direction, or their arm.

Steve K.: That's usually when somebody's swimming in a lane. I mean I guess you could certainly use it recreationally, but that's for somebody that's doing some laps or something like that, right, a spotter on either side to tap ... Right, okay.

Elyse H.: Yep. And again, if you're doing lap lanes or more swimming back and forth in a smaller area, there's lane gates, which are plastic pieces that hook onto the side of a lap lane, and you almost swim through them. They're very flexible, so they're not pointier that, and that is a signal of so many feet, and you're going to be near to the wall. And those are actually demonstrated on the U.S. Association of Blind Athletes.

They have a whole swimming section online with a few videos. The videos are geared for coaches or parents, but when I was looking at them, they even had good tips for the swimmer themselves. So for you or I who wanted to use some of these techniques and adapt to a pool deck, or they even offer techniques to learn the route from the locker room to where the ladder is, to just putting down in yoga mats, kind of like a rug, they can get wet but they're not going to be too slippery, as you learn the routes. Even from the locker room to the edge of the pool, wherever you want to start. That was it.

Steve K.: That's more for when you're first getting used to a place, after a while you're going to the route pretty well, or within a short period of time I'm guessing.

Elyse H.: Yes, yep. Just to get yourself orientated. Or if it's the busy facility, there's not someone that can do a human guide quick, they can keep the mats down on the floor, and then you can use that as a tactile guide from the pool to the locker room or to the bleachers.

Steve K.: You know, I sometimes wonder, particularly with people who have lost vision later in life. They have no idea some of the adaptations like the tap stick or the gates that you were talking about. You know, not being around people who have had a vision loss, they just don't know that these things exist.

And I think a lot of times, and I think we've talked about this before in the group, but I lot of times people just assume that the vision loss all of a sudden means that none of these activities are available to them any longer, because it's going to be too difficult to figure out their way around the Y. It's going to be difficult to work with like an aerobics class in the fall and so on.

So I think that that learning about some of these things reduces people's perceptions perhaps of the barriers that they might encounter.

Elyse H.: I sure hope so, definitely, definitely.

Speaker 4: Does anybody have any idea on how to keep track of time when you're in there? I tried to get an Apple Watch, and that just was a bad idea for me. I just didn't like it, and obviously most phones and watches aren't waterproof. And I wouldn't care so much except that if I'm swimming, I tend to exercise first and then reward myself with water at the end.

And then I need to get out and allow enough time that I can get ready and then get back in time for the paratransit before the window starts. So does anybody have any tips on what I could do? I even tried leaving my phones that have chimes out, but I couldn't hear them in the water.

Elyse H.: Oh yeah, good ... So I've had a couple options. If you're comfortable, there's waterproof like a plastic Tupperware case that I've had people set an alarm on their phone, and then put the whole phone into the waterproof case, and that's closer to the edge of the pool, you might not be able to hear it from the bleachers per se, but if it's in a safe spot or maybe on top of a towel. Then if you hear the alarm. I've checked in with lifeguards who can signal you at a certain quarter to, and let you know.

Speaker 4: Yeah I asked him, but they tend to forget.

Elyse H.: Oh no. Yeah. My best bet I've seen is to put a phone in a waterproof case. We've tried it, I don't know how well it worked. It was a kitchen timer, the same idea, so it wasn't the electronic phone that costs more money if it did get wet, but it was also in a baggie, just a little Zip-Loc baggie in the towel.

So we set it for 45 minutes, and it was beeping, then we knew that was going to our time limit.

Speaker 4: Okay.

Steve K.: Wouldn't it be great if you could set up an Amazon Echo or a Google Assistant, like in a corner and you could shout out at like what time is it? And who knows? There maybe some places where you could actually set something like that up, or they probably actually have one there, just maybe not in the pool area.

Speaker 4: Yeah. I mean I can take my phones to the other places, and either they're on my person or right by the equipment. But in the pool it's been a bit challenging.

Steve K.: Well it's interesting, because you're probably not alone. I don't know whether they have a clock in the pool area, but anybody who's in there probably does not have a watch, doesn't have access to their phone, so everybody would probably need it. I could just imagine like an Echo Dot someplace there in the pool area would get an awful lot of use. It might be worth suggesting it to someone just to see if they'd be willing to do that, and everybody could go and ask the A-Lady. Hey, what time is it?

Speaker 4: Yeah, I do ask sometimes if I see somebody, like we're both obviously not swimming. Can you tell me what time it is because they do have a clock. But if there are people really concentrating on their laps then obviously, they're not available.

Speaker 4: I don't know, this pool it's really hard, they say it's a straight shot, and I guess it must be. Most schools I can kind of get an idea like from one you push off from the side and go pretty much straight and you know where the other side. You get to the other side, okay that's a lap or whatever. Somehow this one seems, I don't know if it's angled, but I've tried several times to do the same sort of technique to figure out from one side to the other ... I can't seem to get a straight line on it very well.

Elyse H.: Yeah, do you square off against the wall with your shoulders, back of your hips back, and then just try to push off straight?

Speaker 4: Yeah, well I don't always have my, but I'm pretty much right there at a straight line, and I think I go reasonably straight. But I don't know if it's just a bigger pool from like straight across and I'm just not seeing it, or if it's not a straight ... I don't know, it doesn't seem like it would be angled, but I've tried several times and I can't seem to get a feel for where that upside ... Usually it's no big thing. Okay, over here, and then over there that's a lap, and then back the other way.

Elyse H.: Mm-hmm (affirmative). And do they have lap lanes in, those plastic-

Speaker 4: Yeah they do, so maybe what I could do is follow that rope, just walk it, follow that rope from one side to see where maybe I should just to that a couple of times until I can get an idea. I think maybe that's what I should do, because otherwise I just can't seem to get a feel for where that other side is.

Elyse H.: Yeah. If they do have lap lanes, you can use those as an orientation of sorts. In a competition, you're not supposed to push off of the lane for momentum, but for recreation or just getting around, you can brush the back of your hand on them every now and again to check that you're going the right way that you want to go.

So Steve we talked a lot about going in the water, should we change a little bit over to going on the water?

Steve K.: Yeah, I was just thinking about that. I was kind of curious, does anybody participating have any experience with kayaking or sailing or anything like that? In preparation for the group, I had a moment to look through the Encyclopedia of Sports Recreation for People with Visual Impairment, and that's by Andrew Leeds. And just FYI, that's available as a talking book.

But I was going through some of the chapters, and this isn't the first time I've looked at his book, but I'm always blown away by some of the listings that he has in there.

So the water entries include kayaking and canoeing, rowing, sailing, scuba diving, surfing, swimming, triathlon, and water skiing. And I'm just ... I know, I don't know anything about surfing to be honest, but I was reading through there and there are programs for surfing with a vision impairment, not that everybody would want to do that.

But I just feel like after looking at that, the sky really is the limit. There do seem to be an awful lot of opportunities, and I'm just kind of curious if anybody has participated in any of those or has any interest.

Elyse H.: Yes, Kimberly mentioned in the chat there's a lot of adaptive sailing programs across the country.

Steve K.: There are. One of the interesting websites that I went to was sailblinds.com, and that's affiliated with the Carol Center in the Boston area. And they teamed up with a group called Courageous Sailing. So during the summer months, every week, anybody with a vision impairment can spend a couple of hours working with a guide, and apparently, they go out in the bay on a 19 foot sailboat and learn some of the basics.

For the most part, it sounds like it's recreational, but there's also International Blind Sailing, and if you get a chance, some of the videos are kind of amazing, because with the International Blind Sailing, they actually have sailing competitions. And the way it works is you've got two visually impaired or blind folks in the boat, and one of them is on the helm, it has to be to that way.

And they race, and at the end of the year, they've got a final tournament, and it's headquartered in New Zealand, but for many years it was headquartered in Boston. So it's something that's taken very, very seriously.

Elyse H.: I've seen that, and then along with that, theblindcaptain.com had a lot of ideas for kayak adaptations. And one of them that was new to me was called the paddling partner, and here I thought it was a person they stick in your kayak or something.

It's actually a device to balance out the middle of your kayak to make it more stable. They're a little bit lower to the water, and can be sometimes a little tippy, so it's a balance solution that just sets into your kayak right about where your hips sit to helps with the balance.

And then there was another about Mr. Beep and the Course Keeper, and they would race and set up courses with deeper audio boxes as their guide so they could do it by ear and they didn't have to follow any sort of markers on that.

Steve K.: So in that case, somebody was setting up the beep boxes, and then you were paddling towards the beat box, whether that happened to be in another kayak or someplace else, is that right?

Elyse H.: Right, right.

Steve K.: I mean you could put it up on shore if you wanted to.

Elyse H.: Mm-hmm, mm-hmm, some people were in canoes, some were kayaks. Sailboats can follow the beep course keeper. There's a lot of options.

Steve K.: I'm not familiar with them but I understand that there's also an electronic compass that could be used?

Elyse H.: Yes, talking compass in that. Also came across a handicapped Scuba Association, and despite the game, had some great pictures and videos at hsascuba.com, and so working with adults with all sorts of ability levels to go under the water. I'll add that in our resource list, you can check it out if you're at all interested in scuba.

Speaker 4: Yeah I was wondering about how blind people cope with you go so far down, and then if your ears ... Well I mean I know you have equipment on, but if you can't see at all, not to say that a person wouldn't get anything out of it because I don't want to be judgmental, I mean I would think we would.

But I was just wondering how did people adapt as far as their ears, and then when you decompress when you come back up, do people have a problem with earaches or swimmers ear or something like that.?

Elyse H.: Definitely. When I did scuba, they had mats tied up on the ropes, and so at 10 foot, 20 foot interval, depending on how deep we were going, you would stop and level off and let your body have a chance to acclimate to the pressure changing. And a lot of that deep inhale and slowly exhaling through the nose to equalize the pressure.

I don't want to say it's the same like when you're on an airplane and your ears might feel a little blocked, but even for the sighted scuba group I was with had knots tied on the rope indicating your depth level and like this is where you need to stop and regulate.

Speaker 4: How do people afford these things? I would think some of these things could be a bit on the pricey side. I mean pricey is a relative term, but how do people if they don't already have this equipment, by the time you need to rent, buy, something, and then work with some other people, I would think that you need to obviously have some sort of budget.

Elyse H.: Definitely. I know for the bikes, there's a couple groups that do rentals or they have some borrowing systems in place. I'm not that sure about the aquatic part of it.

Steve K.: I noticed on Sail Blind for example, if you had a vision impairment, you got from 10 until one, three hours of training and out on the boat for five bucks. Now I don't know what I would cost-

Speaker 4: Oh wow.

Steve K.: Yeah, for the average person. So I think at least in that case, it seemed like it was a great deal, it was a great opportunity to learn some sailing skills.

The flip side of it is of course I think that they're looking for newcomers to the sport, somebody who's going to get hooked on the sport, and then they're going to be an active participant and that sort of thing.

But you may also find by just asking that question, that who knows, you may find a group that does the same sort of a thing. I don't know what the pricing was for the scuba diving, but they too might offer like a price break for somebody who's just starting out wanting to get involved.

Elyse H.: Yeah, one of the clubs I'm involved with locally here, we do group rentals. So once or twice a year we'll go and get a big group discount to rent kayaks or to rent the canoes. Or sometimes Lions groups host, so they have the equipment or access to, and that we can use with guides and some teachers for the day.

So sometimes looking around to see if there's a group you can connect with. They might have the equipment, you can join in.

Steve K.: I was just thinking that even calling the local Lions might be a great way to find out what specific activities and events are in your area related to water sports. They may have it already on their calendar, or whatever the local blindness agency, they too might be a good resource for some of those, especially the ones that have a discount.

Elyse H.: Well I see a hand up. Kimberly, go ahead.

Kimberly: Thank you. Most states do have an adaptive sports agency somewhere, and a lot of them do have kayaking programs, swimming programs, all that sort of stuff. I know in our state, once you register with the program, it is free of charge.

So during the winter they can go skiing for free. During the summer they can participate in kayaking program for free. And they do provide instruction too, so that's another good resource.

Elyse H.: Great, thanks for sharing.

Steve K.: I don't think any of those Kim really have any sort of age restrictions. It seems like they're open to everybody, maybe a little bit of focus for training with transition-aged kids or something like that.

Kimberly: No, they really have no age range thing. They may have specific programs where, for example, Tuesday morning may be men over 55 or something like that. But other than that, they do have programs that cover every age.

Steve K.: You know, if somebody was just kind of new to trying to find this information out, what might be ... I know how we would do it in Maine, but how would somebody do it elsewhere? Where would you suggest? Call the state blindness agency, or one of the nonprofits? Where would a person start?

Kimberly: That may be one place to start with the blindness agencies. A lot of these sports agencies do all disabilities, so they're a little further reaching than just blindness. Most of them have in their name, like we have here in Maine, Maine Adaptive Sports and Recreation. So if you just look up adaptive sports and list a state, that should give it to you. The other thing you can do too is go online to USABA, and they list all sorts of programs.

Steve K.: Can you search the USABA website by like state? If I was in Minnesota, could I look to see what kind of activities USABA was sponsoring in that state? Do you know?

Kimberly: Yes. They do have a directory of who their clubs are, and I know that covers all the states. Let me see if a calendar is there.

Steve K.: And correct me if I'm wrong, but that's USA Blind Athletic Association?

Kimberly: Yes.

Steve K.: Yep, that's what the-

Speaker 4: I think it's the United States Association of Blind Athletes.

Steve K.: Oh, thank you.

Kimberly: Right, right.

Steve K.: And I think it's USABA.org.

Kimberly: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Steve K.: Yeah, so that too might be a good place for anybody who's just kind of looking to start their search there and kind of narrow it down as they move forward.

Elyse H.: Great, awesome information, I'll be sure to add that in our resource page too.

I know somebody earlier had talked about fishing. I think they were talking about fishing, and theblindcaptain.com had a lot of information about talking about how the feeling of the fish on the line, there's no sight required. So he had some great tips in that on the website if you're interested to look further.

Carol, I see your hand is up, go ahead.

Carol: I will definitely check theblindcaptain.com, but for the lady who was concerned about keeping track of time in the pool. You mentioned putting a kitchen timer in the bag, and I guess I could understand you're being a little reluctant to leave your iPhone on the edge of the pool for anybody to pick up, but what about the old fashioned talking clocks, whether it be the key chain or pyramid one. They have alarms that you could set on them, but when she went by it she could just press it to hear what the time was too. Just a thought.

Elyse H.: Yeah, that's a good idea, especially if you have a well-loved one that's okay it may get a little splashed.

Carol: Well you put it in the Zip-Loc bag like you had mentioned.

Elyse H.: Right, right, right. I guess in my estimation they're so picky on even moisture, those talking watches. Maybe you found a better brand than I have.

Carol: I guess I haven't had it by moisture, so I don't know.

Elyse H.: Oh, okay, okay.

Kimberly: Okay, you were talking about where to place something like that. If it is a pool that has competitions there, you can always put it on the top of the starting blocks, and that's far enough up that splashing isn't really going to get it very much.

Elyse H.: Right, it would be elevated a little bit.

Kimberly: Yeah, the podiums, yeah.

Steve K.: I'd be a lot more comfortable leaving a watch than an iPhone to be honest, unless I was very, very comfortable with the area.

Speaker 4: Mm-hmm (affirmative). But if I set the clock, I have a couple of these different louder talking ... it doesn't have a volume control, but if you have a good set of fresh batteries in and I put something around it, I could probably put it by the lifeguard thing. And then when the alarm started it goes ding, ding, ding. So even if I didn't hear it, maybe somebody else would say, "Oh, what's going on over there?"

Steve K.: That's a great idea.

Elyse H.: Yeah, hopefully not a wakeup call for them, but definitely they'll notice it.

Speaker 4: Yeah.

Elyse H.: Great, I'm so glad everyone could share with what you've gotten started with and how to connect with these activities. And again, feel free to reach out to us by call or email. Have a great month everyone.

Elyse H.: Thanks for joining, talk soon.