How Swimming Helps My Daughter Improve Her Strength and Balance

Swimming has become an important form of exercise for this teenager with LEMS

Lori Dunham avatar

by Lori Dunham |

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My children learned to swim at a young age. My husband and I have lived in warm climates for most of our marriage, so it was only natural to teach our children to swim to keep them safe during all of the water activities that were a part of our lives.

Our daughter Grace, who was diagnosed at age 14 with Lambert-Eaton myasthenic syndrome (LEMS), learned to swim when she was 2 1/2 years old. She loved the water and went swimming multiple times a week throughout her childhood. During her early teen years, she trained with members of a swim team to perfect her skills.

However, swimming was the first casualty after Grace’s LEMS diagnosis. Even though she was a strong swimmer, her confidence faded in her ability to stay afloat. With muscle weakness affecting both her core and her extremities, she lost the ability to swim.

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When life settled down after her diagnosis, we continued to visit the pool. Although Grace didn’t feel like she could swim, she loved being in the water. She was cautious, but she enjoyed walking in the pool, which enabled her to exercise without the fear of falling. Of course, we made sure she always had a strong swimmer by her side.

From leisure activity to exercise

Although swimming looks much different for Grace nowadays, we have been able to build that activity back into her life. I would still love the security of knowing she could swim in case of an emergency, but we appreciate the fact that she can continue with the activity. It does look different from before, though.

Prior to her diagnosis, swimming was more of a leisure activity. Now, it has become a valuable exercise that allows her to strengthen her muscles in a safe environment.

Time spent in the pool builds Grace’s leg muscles as she kicks on a kickboard. It strengthens her arms as she practices different strokes in water that’s shallow enough for her to stand. It’s helped improve her balance as well.

Last, but certainly not least, swimming is one example of how Grace can still incorporate things she loves into her life while living with LEMS.

Are you able to swim with LEMS? What other activities look different after your diagnosis? Please share in the comments below. 

Note: Lambert-Eaton News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Lambert-Eaton News or its parent company, BioNews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to Lambert-Eaton myasthenia syndrome.


g m ledford avatar

g m ledford

i have lems day after modera first shot. in feb 2021 Any one else have this painful . experience. im 73 with no lung cancer. 9 months for diagnosis by nuellogoist. sorrym cannot type with stiff fingers
. taking firdasese..thanks for swimming post. i was river guide


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