Bill’s story: returning to the pool after a double amputation
After undergoing a double leg amputation, 62-year old Bill Walters nearly stopped exercise altogether. A holiday changed his perspective on life and he became determined to re-learn to swim.
Having been taught at school, Bill was a regular swimmer until he had both legs amputated after a spate of ill-health in 2006.
The first time I went along to the pool I only managed a couple of lengths and was absolutely exhausted.
But a life-changing visit to the Isle of Man inspired Bill to return to the water. After seeing a beautiful scene with sea water entering a cove, Bill knew this was a place he would love to swim and vowed to investigate swimming at his local pool when he returned.
Following his operation, he knew he needed alternative ways to keep active and stay fit and swimming was a perfect option for him.
On his first visit to the pool, he wasn’t sure of the set-up so he took his artificial limbs off and put them in a locker in the changing room then crawled to the poolside and rolled in.
He decided that once he surfaced he would just move his arms and see what happened!
It became apparent Bill would need to re-learn how to swim.
“The first time I went along to the pool I only managed a couple of lengths and I was absolutely exhausted,” said Bill.
“But this did not deter me and I gradually built up my lengths and got so much stronger."
Following his initial visit where he crawled to the poolside, Bill tried a host of different ways of accessing the water and concluded he preferred the hoist facility to anything else.
Staff became aware of Bill's needs and offered a wheelchair from the changing rooms to the poolside hoist.
Without any coaching advice, he managed to re-teach himself how to swim during public swim sessions and after 11 months Bill had mastered the front crawl again.
Bill’s overall fitness and breathing improved remarkably through his participation in swimming – he even shed four stone in the process which assisted with his mobility. His stumps also became softer and swimming helped ease the pain from them.
After mastering swimming for the second time, Bill took his involvement to the next step, becoming a ‘swim buddy’ at his local pool in Wirral, helping support new and apprehensive adult swimmers.
“Now I am a swim buddy I hope I can encourage others who may be dubious about swimming to overcome their doubts and take the plunge,” said Bill.