The 2018 Aqualympics returns to Fraser Valley Aquatic Rehabilitation’s (FVAR) facilities on Sunday, August 12 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Hosted by FVAR’s daughter and mother team of Holly Wilson and Joyce Wilson, the events offers clients an opportunity to demonstrate their swimming skills — and even compete — in front of their families and friends.
“Cheer on our competitors at this super fantastic annual event,” said Joyce.
“Invite your family and friends, enjoy the competition, barbecue, trivia games and prizes, along with our awards ceremony. We will also be giving thanks to those who supported our events this year.”
For more than 22 years Joyce has been providing “watsu” therapy and aquatic integration sessions at her private swimming pool to persons with motor skills challenges such as acquired brain injuries, strokes, cerebral palsy and arthritis.
FVAR currently has about 40 clients coming once a week or more for the one-on-one sessions with Joyce, Holly and their team of rehab assistants and personal trainers. Some clients have been coming regularly for as long as 15 years, and all are paying their own way as the medical system does not cover the expense, which is $105 per hour.
“This has to be done on a one-on-one basis, not groups, and we try to keep costs down by holding fundraisers such as our annual open house in June, but the expenses are high,” said Joyce.
“We keep the pool temperature high at 94 degrees so clients can relax their muscles, instead of tightening up in a normal swimming pool. Cold water makes it worse for our clients to do the exercises so they can’t go to a public pool.”
Both Joyce and Holy have worked as care aides and they have their BCRPA Fitness Theory certificates, but they also have the right personalities to have a positive outcome with clients, who range in age from four to 90 years old. Working with many different types of clients, means having to adjust to their perspectives.
Most of the clients are cognitive and only limited by their lack of motor skills, so the goal to keep them active and functioning, and not regressing.
“We bring them into the water and assess them. We bring them to the deep end and see how their balance is, their strengths, and what to work on. We start with mild exercise, release and stretch moves, and get them to relax and overcome any fears,” said Joyce.
“Some of them never swam before their accidents, so getting their faces into the water and the right rhythm of breathing can be challenging, but once they do they really enjoy it and break though the fears.”
The goal is to get clients to swim two laps, with front and back crawls, which is very hard work for them.
“We have what we call a parent challenge at the Aqualympics event, where we get the able-bodied guests to do the laps with weights or floats attached to their limbs, and it opens their eyes as to hard you have to work to do it.”
Among the competitors on August 12 will be two youths, 11 year old Mady and 16 year old Hailie Miller, along with several adults.
Hailie, who has cerebral palsy and required crutches to walk, has been coming to FVAR since she was five and has become fiercely competitive as a swimmer. She is a staunch supporter of the program here.
Anyone interested in the program is welcome to attend the Aqualympics event and have their questions answered.
Fraser Valley Aquatic Rehabilitation is open 9 to 5 Mondays to Fridays at 24562 Fraser Hwy. For information call 604-856-3595.