Zenergy is proud to sponsor AquAbility, a non-profit corporation committed to providing therapeutic recreation through swimming for people with a variety of physical challenges. AquAbility serves Idaho residents with physical challenges, disabled athletes from around the nation, visiting disabled athletes, cross training Paralympians, and wounded war veterans.
We’ve partnered with AquAbility to provide the practice facility—but it’s really our awesome swim master Karen Morrison who brings this program to life by working with local participants to help them learn to swim despite their challenges. “Swimming is an activity that can be done independently—and this is a priceless freedom,” Karen explains.
Just ask Jet Turner, who has incomplete quadriplegia, with limited use of his legs and good use of his arms, but not his hands. “I started swimming with AquAbility at its inception in 2010, and have found swimming a sport that I can do completely without assistance,” he says.
The Power of Water
Why swimming? Swimming is unique because it provides a neutral-gravity aerobic training environment to everyone. In other words, it’s the great equalizer. In the water, anyone can reap the benefits of aerobic exercise. This aerobic exercise provides not just muscle and aerobic conditioning, but also an opportunity for body awareness and the confidence that comes with meeting physical challenges. And of course—freedom and independence.
“I’ve always enjoyed being in the water and now, after my injury, more than ever,” explains Dan Cnossen, who served with the U.S. Navy SEALs and was injured in Afghanistan, resulting in the amputation of both legs above the knee. Dan is now a member of the U.S. Paralympic biathlon/cross country ski team and has spent time in the Zenergy pool working on his swimming technique with Karen. “It was a great learning experience,” he says. “She improved my stroke tremendously and I feel much more aware of what my body is doing and needs to do as I move through the water.”
The Benefits of AquAbility
AquAbility is designed to foster physical and cognitive benefits, raise self-esteem, promote fitness, encourage and cultivate social interaction, improve quality of life, and to allow for independence in the sport of swimming for physically and visually challenged adults and children.
AquAbility is available to people of all ages who are challenged by a variety of permanent physical restrictions which limit their activities, including but not limited to: paralysis, stroke, Parkinson’s disease, visual or auditory impairment, multiple sclerosis, cerebral palsy, amputations, spinal cord injuries, brain injury, and wheelchair users.
Participants like Jet and Dan are a testament to the value of the program. “Swimming is a great total body workout. My range of motion has improved, along with my muscle strength and coordination,” Jet says. “I have also made many new friends. I compete in swim meets and continue to swim/train with AquAbility twice each week. I love the workout and Karen pushes me to be better and try harder. I can even swim Butterfly now!”