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Compensation for disabilities
MisterEd - 9/07/2020 8:50 PM
Category: Training
Replies: 6

I broke my left foot in numerous places as a kid. My left fin kick is not as strong as my right kick, this mean I don’t have a straight forward kick which hinders overall performance.
To compensate I use webbed hand gloves to increase speed and distance.

Clearing water from mask underwater was difficult because of excess chlorine in the pool. To compensate I use an Aqualung Pacifica Purge mask.

With these added support tools there should be no reason to prevent me from Open Water Certification
Eric_R - 9/08/2020 5:25 PM
I would work with an instructor to modify your fins to work better for you. Maybe you could either drill holes or cut slits in the good foot fin to better match the output of the bad foot.
LatitudeAdjustment - 9/09/2020 8:01 AM
I like to joke I swim in circles because both my fins are lefts, there is a big L on both my Atomics and Oceanics (It’s the size if you are not getting this joke)

I have seen divers with one leg so it can be done with technique Welcome to our pool :)
MisterEd - 9/09/2020 9:19 AM
That’s a good idea regarding putting holes or slits to balance left fin deficiencies. I’m concerned, however, my instructor will recommend scuba diver certification rather than open water. Should my instructor choose the lower level of certification may I contest his decision with PADI officials?
LatitudeAdjustment - 9/10/2020 9:47 AM
From MisterEd: Should my instructor choose the lower level of certification may I contest his decision with PADI officials?

The certification is broken up into pieces, you complete one and then go on to the next. Your first card allows you to go to 60’, Advanced is deeper. Since you are closer to the Great Lakes Wreck Diving would probably be fresh water.
There are groups who specialize in teaching handicapped and wounded warriors that might be better suited for giving you advice. There is one group that I know of here on DB, I think near Chicago but I can’t remember their name.
I seem to remember the one legged diver I saw in Cayman was using his other fin more like a rudder than kicking with it
MisterEd - 9/16/2020 11:37 AM
My instructor is basing his decision on the way I kick. That is I bend my knees as opposed to straight kick from the hips. I do ok this way however, I believe I am being penalized for now kicking the way he wants me to. Unfortunately he is stuck on this as back and white issue.

This is why I believe I may need another instructor to provide support for me or for my instructor. At that point I will abide by whatever is decided.
MDW - 2/05/2021 10:08 AM
Your instructor is right about your technique being at the heart of the problem. I believe that if you can correct your technique from the "bicycle rider" way you’re doing it now (bending knees and feet moving in a circle) to a proper technique like flutter (straight up and down from the hip), frog (legs move sideways with alternating angles of fin blades), etc. you should be able to move along at a good clip. Another important aspect of proper propultion is getting in and staying in a horizontal trim (flat or almost flat, not vertical or at a 45 deg angle). This will go a long way to increasing you speed by lowering drag and directing your thrust straight out the back, as well as help resist the urge to do that bicycle kick (almost impossible in proper trim).
As for the use of webbed hand thingies, just don’t do it. Here’s why: 1) it take a lot more effort to swim with your hands than with your legs 2) if you are swimming with your hands, you can’t use them for other important things like working your BC, signalling your buddy, finding your backup reg as needed, clearing your mask as needed, fetching things from your pockets, etc. 3) it looks uncool and is a distraction to your buddies (i.e. you will be the diver who cried "wolf" because the others will get used to your arms flapping around all the time to swim and won’t notice if you are trying to signal them that you have an actual problem)
I believe that many, if not most, of us have one leg stronger than the other, with a natural tendancy to drift to one side when not using some sort of visual reference (following features on the bottom, maintaining a compass heading, or just staying inline with your buddy). This can be overcome by using visual cues when available, remaining aware of which way you tend to drift, and angling your fins slightly to the side that compensates for your natural drift. I have that taking this compensation technique to the extreme will even allow me to swim straight using only one leg or if I have lost or otherwise removed one fin.
I suggest working first on your basic trim and propulsion to finish OW class. The rest is something you will be able to refine over time as you put some bottom time under your belt.