Swimming Blind

Tuesday, February 15, 2011 - 10:16am

Swimmer succeeds in the water despite lack of sight.

Andrew McLeod spends much of his time in the pool working on his technique.

Andrew is a member of the Neptunes swim club at the Northwest YMCA in Wichita, Kansas.

It's his first full season on the team.

"I think I've improved a lot," said Andrew.

The 10-year-old was born legally blind.

He says sometimes it's difficult, but he's learned to adjust, especially in the pool.

"You just keep on trying and trying and trying and you'll finally just figure out that you're really good at it," Andrew said.

Andrew practices weekly with a coach one-on-one.

"It was a little different for me," said Dustin Welch, Andrews coach. "This is the first time I have coached someone who is legally blind . It was a lot of hands-on in the water with him."

Swimmers use visuals to know where they are in the pool.

Andrew can slightly see the black line in the bottom of the pool, which guides him.

When he's on his back he has to use another sense.

"He uses the lane line as a guidance. He lets his arm roll on the lane line," Welch said.

Andrew actually tried swimming a few years ago, but without the one-on-one help. N

ow that he has that, he's improved dramatically.

"He has made a lot of progress and now he's actually keeping up with people and winning or beating some people," said Brady McLeod, Andrew's father.

Andrew says while his learning style may be different, he's just like any other swimmer working to get better.

"I"m just like everyone else," Andrew said. "I'm trying to swim and cut my time and stuff."

His parents say it's that passion that makes him stand out as a swimmer, not his blindness.

"That's all that matters in swimming, you just do the best you can and I think Andrew understands that extremely well," McLeod said.

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