Sioban Lowe Transitions From The Pool To The Open Water

Courtesy of WOWSA, Huntington Beach, California.

Sioban Lowe from West Kerry, Ireland, started her open water swimming journey during the 2020 lockdown of COVID 19. “For the last five years, I have been using the Skellig Hotel warm pool for my water therapy sessions and swimming. Due to the COVID 19 isolation period and lockdown, and during those three weeks before the country locked down, I struggled without the water and my walking became very taxed. My mobility became very limited.”

Six years ago, Lowe was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis. She explains, “Without choice in March due to isolation, I traded the heated swimming pool of the Dingle Skellig Hotel for the freezing ocean waters of Smerwick Harbour. Getting into the icy waters of the Atlantic Ocean for my water therapy was so difficult. With the patience and experience of Nuala Moore, this challenge has yielded great strength and now achievement.

Moore describes, “Sioban has limited movement of legs and other challenges, but she was a pool swimmer. She contacted me in March to help her with the sea as her hotel pool closed. Her choices were zero activity or using the freezing waters off our home beaches in March. Water temps were 10°C.

The biggest challenge was trying to identify the signs and symptoms of cold water. The fear of stopping was so great, the ramifications of inactivity is something that MS sufferers cannot regain. We started with aqua aerobics in 10°C sea water. She took baby steps and she had to spend an hour there without any experience. It was hell, but we made it. Managing her recovery was also difficult, but cold water is my greatest skill and management of swimmers.

Lowe is now swimming longer distances.

She explains why, “I love to raise much awareness and much needed funds for Tara House, MS Mid Western Regional Office for Multiple Sclerosis. The main objective and focus of Tara House and their staff, is to bring people after diagnosis, an understanding of the new normal of our physical limitations. It is such a scary time when we are first diagnosed and the team instil confidence and help us understand what we can achieve with their help and guidance. They have so many programs and the staff work to point us in the right direction, to find a path, to better our outcomes.
Swimming across Smerwick Harbour is a fitting tribute and a wonderful opportunity to raise awareness and mostly to raise much needed funds for this centre.”

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