Dawn Of A New Day

Courtesy of WOWSA, Huntington Beach, California.

Ocean swimmers, paddle boarders, kayakers, and wind surfers all understand the freedom – and challenges – that come with training and competing in the ocean.

That freedom is a result of the natural buoyancy of the water, the ebb and flow of the tides, the dynamic nature of winds and waves, and the lack of traffic that comes with running or cycling in urban environments.

For someone who has lost the use of their legs and is faced with the daily hurdles of not being able to walk, that freedom in the ocean is profoundly appreciated.

After a car accident and a two-month medically induced coma, 33-year-old Dawn Robinson woke up to being unable to use her legs.

The former surfer was comfortable in the ocean so she used her abilities to rediscover the water and her natural athleticism. After meeting Becky McGill and Bruckner Chase, she was introduced to using a paddleboard and found it to be a natural next step. “You are free in the water. You are not bound to a wheelchair,” she said. “It’s peaceful out there in the water. I love being out in the water.”

McGill is a physical therapist and the spinal cord injury program coordinator at the Bacharach Institute for Rehabilitation. Together with Chase, they manage the Ocean City Swim Club/Bacharach Rehabilitation Hospital Swimming and Paddling United Team Program that helps those with spinal cord injuries learn to move through the water and teaches weekly open water prone paddleboarding and swimming.

Bruckner is my trainer and was my escort for the 5-mile paddleboard race,” said Robinson about the race that took her 1 hour 46 minutes. “Once I got on the board, I loved it. It’s tough going against the currents, but I like a good challenge.”

She also raced with other para-athlete paddlers at Surf Lifesaving Sports Festival in Beesley’s Point Sea Doo, Beesley’s Point in New Jersey this weekend.

Copyright © 2015 by World Open Water Swimming Association