Swimming Is My Moving Medicine

National Swim Meet

Rewind with me for just a moment to the winter of 1983. My final year of college swimming and I once again had failed to qualify for Nationals. My teammates had pleaded with the coaches each year to take me along as a relay swimmer, but funds were tight and four girls (enough for a relay) had already qualified. So I finished my college career never having attended a National meet.

Never did I ever think I would attend a National meet as a 57 year old woman, but yet I did. I just returned from Albuquerque, New Mexico where I swam in the National Senior Games. It was an unforgettable experience. I am so thankful for the MySwimPro app that I use faithfully as my on line swim coach that brought me to this time and place.

Training with RA (Rheumatoid Arthritis)

I was diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis 6 years ago; I began a weight loss journey 3 years ago. Three years ago is when I began swimming again – my trainer told me I should be doing what I love to do – which was swimming. I had always put it off because I thought I was too big to be seen in a bathing suit. (I started in a size 24 bathing suit and am now in a size 14.) I’ve lost 75 pounds to date and an unexpected benefit has been the fact that my inflammation markers went WAY down for the RA.

In the pictures above you see the one with my ring finger bent. I had a period of time about a year ago where that finger would get “stuck” in that position – especially upon waking up. It was quite frightening really. But another added benefit of swimming is that it helps me overcome anxiety, so even though my finger was “stuck,” I still went to the swimming pool to relieve my anxiety. I will never forget the first swim with this condition. I literally swam 75 yards in the cool water and my finger released and it was completely fine. It would seize up again later in the day, but EVERY time I was in the water, it released. It is fine now, but that just renewed my love for the water. I could not hold a barbell in a weight room with my finger “stuck.” But I could swim laps.

The picture showing both hands shows you how swollen my knuckles can get. With the proper nutrition and with the swimming, I was able to watch all of that swelling dissipate. Presently all my inflammation markers are normal, but I “feel” my hands every morning. So much so that that first cup of coffee needs to be held with both hands or I will drop the cup. Yet despite my discomfort, I still go to the pool three to four times a week, utilize the MySwimPro training programs and get a good hour of swimming in with zero pain in the water.

Once diagnosed with RA, your doctor x-rays your lungs periodically. Long-term inflammation can cause scarring within your lungs. I am always aware of this and it’s another reason I love swimming. Swimming is such a good cardiovascular workout and really helps me keep my lungs strong and fit.

Meeting My Goal – Swimming with Intention

In October of 2018 at the Huntsman World Senior Games, I qualified for the 2019 National Senior Games. I felt great in October – so great that I thought “Maybe I don’t have Rheumatoid Arthritis.” So I started to take less medicine. Well this backfired on me and my hands, ankles, wrists and elbows began hurting me in January. (I do NOT recommend reducing your medicine on your own.) I immediately began the proper amount of medicine, and although I was unable to spend much time in the weight room doing resistance training, I was still able to swim. At times, I couldn’t “push off” the wall with intention because it hurt my ankles, but I could still kick, pull, and swim. And so I continued to train for the National Meet in June utilizing training plans with MySwimPro.

By the time of the meet, the only problem I was still experiencing was with my hands. And the only limitation that posed was pulling myself out of the water (so I simply used the ladder.) The National swim meet has been one of the highlights of my year thus far. I would just love to encourage you to swim no matter your size or ailment. It is easier to move in water than on land. That’s because your body is buoyant in water — the water supports your weight and reduces stress on your joints. Movement is medicine!

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