14 November, 2019
Tasha Critchley shares her top tips for swimming with a stoma.
As a classified British para-swimmer, when I woke up from surgery with my stoma I had a major question. Will I still be able to swim?
For as long as I can remember I have been swimming and competing. I loved the thrill of racing against new people in competitions around the country. Something I loved even more was racing against my main rivals who used to attend each competition. Then all of a sudden, everything came to a halt as I had to adjust to life living with a stoma.
Here are my top tips for getting into the pool with a stoma.
- Find swimwear you are comfortable in
Finding swimwear that you feel comfortable in is possibly the most important and crucial part of being able to get back into the pool. If you feel comfortable in your swimwear, you will feel confident getting into the pool. Bright colours and patterned swimwear tend to make people feel more confident as it makes any outline of a bag less visible.
- Try your swimwear in a mirror
If you are still anxious, try your swimwear on in a mirror. This should make you realise that your bag won’t be visible to other people in the water.
- Does your bag need a filter cover?
Before you go swimming, you need to check if your bag needs a filter cover on the top. If it does, these stickers will come in you box that your bags arrive in. They are circle stickers that fit over the filter at the top of your bag. It prevents any water from entering the bag whilst you are in the pool.
- Drying/Changing your bag after swimming
My biggest piece of advice would be to use a disabled changing room when you are getting dressed after your time in the pool. More often than not, these changing rooms will have either a hand dryer or a hair dryer that you will be able to use on your bag. Drying the bag for a minute or two will allow you to keep the bag in place if there is no output in it. If the bag needs changing, then just perform the change as you would if you were at home. Then pop the bag into one of the nappy bins provided in the changing rooms.
- Enjoy being in the water.
Last but by no means least, enjoy your time in the water. Be proud of yourself for overcoming an such a big obstacle. Just remember that nobody will see your bag so there is no need to be worried.
I hope these top tips have helped you to be more confident and to think about trying to get into the pool. Just remember, different people need different amounts of time to get back into physical activities. Take as much time as you need but always remember that having a stoma should never stop you from doing anything.
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