‘Lanza baby YEAHHHHHH! ‘
And so began an adventure for everyone, four blind or visually impaired athletes, (VIs) a guide and two multi-purpose coach/guides.
Five days of a d-i-y coaching course at Club La Santa, Lanzarote, with eleven sessions on offer focusing on technique over the three sports, and the chance to do a couple of fitness tests along the way. Impairments ranged from totally blind athletes to those with almost enough sight to ride a bike solo. But the athletes react differently to different light conditions. One needs funnelled bright light and carries a torch, one has vision reduced even further in bright light. One reacts to flashing lights so spent a sleepless first night – the two tiny red lights on the fire alarm in the bedroom appeared as disco strobe lights to her. One of my first morning jobs was to perch on a stool and cover them with kinesiology tape. The other job was to talk to reception and ask the cleaners not to ‘tidy’ any belongings as the VIs struggle to find them again. Mental mapping, especially in a new place, takes a huge amount of energy and carries high anxiety levels. And at Club La Santa all accommodation looks identical wherever you are, even as a sighted person!
Day one – Swimming in an outdoor 50 metre pool for the first time for everyone was a great experience. One to one coaching was on tap and we had two swimmers per lane, only one crash and everyone received individual input on their own specific points for improvement. Productive session. Any more than two swimmers and the result is carnage. I still don’t know how visually impaired athletes know where the end is, this proved to be difficult due to the pool markings being a faint blue instead of a bold black strip. Bruised fingers and heads all round I guess.