After being diagnosed with Spinocerebellar ataxia (SCA), the last thing on Scott Majoribanks’ mind was swimming. Scott was in his 30s then. He is 53 now and recently won all of the events he entered at a local swim meet.
Scott was a very active child and teenager. He loved playing football and learnt to swim at a young age.
“I lived in Adamstown (in Newcastle, NSW) as a kid and couldn’t wait to finish school and ride my bike to the beach,” Scott said.
Living near Maitland in the Hunter Valley now, Scott may be a bit further away from the beach but with the help of integratedliving he enjoys getting along to the local pool a few times a week.
Having SCA can result in the incoordination of gait and poor coordination of hands, speech, and eye movements and would typically mean swimming would be out of the question for Scott.
“I also can have body spasms which are like a seizure so the only way I could get in a pool is to have constant supervision,” said Scott.
The team at integratedliving have been supporting Scott for many years and when the idea came up that he would like to swim, they helped make it happen.
Staff who are currently helping Scott achieve is swimming goals include integratedliving’s Community Care Professional, Vanessa Caundle and Supoprt Worker, Sarah Collins.
“Each day I have my trainer at Kurri Kurri pool and two staff from integratedliving who make it possible for me to swim,” said Scott.
“One of the ladies from integratedliving will come to my house and drive me to the pool in my car and we meet one of the other staff members there. The staff then get in the pool with me and monitor me the whole time so if I do have a seizure, they are there to help me”.
The improvements in Scott’s strength and wellbeing have been incredible.
integratedliving’s Community Care Professional, Vanessa Caundle, said Scott has been so much happier since starting his swimming.
“Scott has set goals with his swimming and he has certainly met those. Even though a session in the pool can be quite tiring for Scott, we can see he really enjoys it and we love to be able to support him to do it,” said Vanessa.
While Scott has been swimming with his trainer for about two years, he only recently increased his training sessions and entered the Special Olympics Carnival hosted at Kurri Kurri Aquatics Centre.
Scott won the four events he entered – two freestyle events and two backstroke events.
“I know I’ve come a long way because when I first started swimming with my trainer, I couldn’t even float on my back,” said Scott.
“Only a few weeks before the competition, my trainer said I should try backstroke. I’d never swum backstroke before but I gave it a go. The first time I tried a lap of backstroke I couldn’t even swim straight, I went diagonally across the pool!”
Scott has some more competitions in his sights with one in August on the NSW Central Coast, the Special Olympics and the World Masters Games.
We wish Scott well in his upcoming competition and will keep you all up-to-date on his journey.
More articles to read next
Five Reasons Why Prevention is Better than Cure with Occupational Therapy
Ten explanations for why older people would be wise to engage with an occupational therapist, from those who work with elderly clients every day.