I’ve learned to love being in the water. Being immersed in water helps my muscles relax and allows me to move my body in ways that are far more strenuous on land.
I’ve spent years doing various aquatherapy programs, which have helped improve my mobility in many ways. Over time, I gained an appreciation for the water, and a newfound reverence for the immense power it held over my healing process.
One day, I was staring out at a friend’s pool, admiring the way the sun reflected off the water. We had just come back from a long hike, and I decided I wanted to conquer movement in the pool in a way I never had before. With that, a new goal was formed: one hundred laps, there and back.
I knew it would be a challenge and I could not accomplish such a feat on the first try, but that was okay. I made the commitment and devoted the summer of 2013 to my hundred-lap challenge.
I hopped into the pool and mentally committed to starting with five laps, there and back. I took a deep breath and began to swim. As I completed the five laps, something inside propelled me to keep going. Five laps turned into ten, and soon enough ten turned into fifteen.
As I continued swimming, I assessed the condition of my body and pushed for just a few more laps. Exhausted, I made it to eighteen laps on my first swim of the season. What a thrill! That afternoon, I went from never swimming a lap in my life, to swimming eighteen!!
Knowing that I could conquer eighteen laps, I set a new goal of twenty-five for the next time. Again, I took to the water and swam with my whole heart. My goal came and went as I pushed myself harder. Thirty-eight, thirty-nine… forty laps! Once again, I had exceeded the goal I set for myself and it felt amazing.
My friends and family supported my goal by encouraging me to continue to push myself in healthy ways. They encouraged balanced nutrition, drinking plenty of water, and reapplying sunscreen as needed. They cheered me on throughout the process, giving me greater strength and determination to succeed with my goal.
As my journey to reach one hundred laps continued, I let go of everyone else’s opinions of how I should be swimming and listened to my body’s intuition as it guided me along each stroke of each lap. It didn’t matter that I didn’t use the “perfect form” or that I used multiple strokes to get to the end of the pool. Each lap built upon the last, and with each one I gained greater strength and stamina.
After months of practice the day arrived; I was finally going to conquer this goal. One lap after the last, in succession, I approached my goal with excitement. Ninety-eight… ninety-nine… one hundred!
What seemed to be an impossible goal not only became possible with great support and encouragement from people in my life, it was met with exhilaration that spilled over into each area of my life. I conquered the water and continue to conquer living with Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome every day.