A wrap-up from the Summer Camp catering for Visual Impairments to be active in the water
“I don’t think you quite realise it, but you’re totally changing people’s lives”.
This was feedback Swimming New Zealand (SNZ) received from a parent after taking part in their vision impairment specific “Summer Camp”.
Delivered in collaboration with Blind Sport NZ and Canoe Racing NZ, Swimming NZ were blown away by the positive experiences had by participants in a camp setting based around simple concepts – having fun, being social and creating organic connection between participants and families.
SNZ Disability and Para Swimming Participation Manager, Cameron Leslie, says it’s just the start of something bigger.
“This is just where it starts, we are connecting like-minded participants and families with each other. I want vision impaired swimmers around the country to know it’s not just them swimming by themselves. There are others just like them out there doing the same thing – they just don’t cross paths. These camps are part of enabling those paths to cross.”
Leslie added swimming has a proud history as a sport when it comes to those with vision impairment, boasting four Paralympians at the London 2012 Paralympic Games alone.
“People like Mary Fisher are well-known around New Zealand, her and the likes of Dan Sharp, Dan Holt and Aine Kelly Costello were role models at the time.”
The camp proved an opportunity for Holt to reconnect in the swimming and vision impairment space, expressing a desire to be involved more.
During the camp participants had several water sessions, a bush walk and a canoe racing session – all of which proved challenging at times but were delivered within a supportive environment where their impairment was common.
Blind Sport NZ Community and Programmes Lead, Jemma Drake, agreed the camp was a great starting point for the future of the swimmers with a vision impairment.
“The confidence of each of the swimmers grew even with the short amount time we spent together over the weekend. I’m incredibly proud of each of them for diving into the deep with new experiences like the bush work and paddling."
“We look forward to developing these camps further to provide more opportunity for our community. We also hope the relationships made between participants and families will continue to thrive far beyond the camp.”
Canoe Racing NZ Projects Manager, Aaron Osborne, saw awesome progression over the session.
“By far the best part was seeing the paddlers progress from a level of apprehension to pure excitement and enjoyment. We are all connected by water so the collaboration really made sense and this was evident with the openness of the participants to get in and have a go. We have been working hard on developing modifiable equipment and systems that can be easily implemented into club environments.”
Canoe Racing NZ’s session was delivered around PaddleAble, which is a framework developed by them with support of disability sport organisations to guide and support paddling clubs/providers to be able to offer and deliver quality and equitable paddling opportunities.
As an exciting add on for participants, they learned Canoe Racing NZ will have Paracanoe events (KL1, KL2, KL3 and an open category) at their National Championships in 2023. If you would like learn more about Paracanoe racing please learn more below
Winter Camp Opportunity
Next up for swimmers with vision impairment is "Winter Camp". This camp will take place in Queenstown from 25 - 27 August.
Participants are asked if they have confidence in the water. Learn more below