Athlete with Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome

This is an interview with a Paralympic Swimmer who has EDS.  EDSer Nancy Burpee is interviewed by Faye Rapoport.

Nancy Burpee Paralympic Swimmer

Nancy Burpee, Paralympic Swimmer

Many EDSers struggle to maintain an exercise program. Frequent acute injuries prevent us from exercising routinely.  Swimming is one of the best sports for EDS because the water’s bouyancy reduces the weight on our unstable joints. We can relax, safely tone our muscles and enjoy some freedom in the pool. Nancy shares her experience with EDS and swimming.

“With my illness, there were (and are) many things I physically couldn’t do anymore without getting seriously hurt – such as playing basketball. In swimming, I lessen that risk, and I just love to swim. And swimming has been the best way for me to get out my frustrations and stay focused on proving people wrong. Swimming with a United States Masters Swimming* group has been the best thing for me. I can swim in a group environment, which helps keep me motivated and pushes me to do as well as I can. The coaches are great, and work with each person’s individual talents. And I’ve gained more wonderful, supportive friends than I could imagine.

Swimming allows me to continue competing. If I didn’t compete in some form, I’d be absolutely miserable. I love to race and I can’t imagine not being able to do it. Even when the time comes that I may end up in a wheel chair and a physical mess, I know I’ll find a way to compete.

Also, I figured that I had the capacity to continue being very good, and thought that if I trained hard enough and got to a world-class level, I could bring awareness to this disease and push other disabled people to get off their butts and do the impossible.”

Nancy has found her niche with swimming. She stays physically fit and maintains her exercise routine.

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  • Lauren

    My name is Lauren I am 11, and have EDS I am a U.S.S swimmer. I swim year round. I have found other sports are to hard on my joints. I was a level 4 gymnast a age 5, and knew then a was not able to do that anymore. I just wanted to say that I do feel free in the water. I look forward to it because I don’t have pain in the pool. I started swimming in the same year I quit gymnastics, and haven’t wanted to stop sice. I feel almost normal in the pool. It’s what I do to get my mind off of pain. It’s the only place where i can keep up with friends. I would deffinately suggest swiming for edsers of all ages.

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