Swimming Helps Blind San Antonio Teen Improve Vision

Christian Chavez of the newly opened Ladybird Johnson High School in San Antonio, Texas is a highly competitive, quite athletic young man. Christian Chavez swims a 59 second 100 freestyle. Not impressed yet? Christian Chavez is blind.

That’s right, blind. When Chavez first signed up for the Jaguars swim team, he could not at all out of his left eye, and had 20/2600 vision in his right eye. This 20/2600 vision means that if he is 20 feet away from something, he sees it as well as a normal person would see it from 2600 feet away, or roughly half a mile.

Johnson head swim coach Dustin Holland had to find a way to keep his talented, but raw, young swimmer from crashing into walls. And so he invoked a method that my grandpa uses to park his car in the garage, namely, he hung a tennis ball from a stick and taps Chavez on the back when he approaches walls, so that he knows when to turn.

Tennis Ball Parking Aid

Tennis Ball Parking Aid

But this is not the scientifically important part of the story.  According to Kens5.com, it turns out, in his right eye, his vision has improved from 20/2600 to 20/2200 thanks to his time in the pool. That may not seem like a lot, but it’s a roughly 15% improvement. Chavez’s Ophthalmologist was at first baffled by the improvement, but now believes that swimming is the most reasonable explanation.

Although his coach helps him flip, Chavez must rely upon extreme focus to follow the lines on the  bottom of the pool, something that most of us take for granted, to circle-swim and avoid head-on collisions. Chavez’s doctor believes that this intense focus is what is improving his vision by strengthening the eye.

We’ve all known for a long time of the positive affects that swimming can have on our hearts, lungs, and muscles, but this benefit on the eyes could be a medical breakthrough, at least for those afflicted with especially poor vision, like Christian.

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christian chavez
11 years ago

Thank you Braden K with out your help i wouldnt be getting these adapttap. My coach iordering it this week and we are going to try it out these summer. Once again thanks for all your help. Ill keep on working hard and do what i do best swim. THANKS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

christian chavez
11 years ago

where can i get a adaptap for me ive tried to look for one but i cant find one is there a website to go to please write back

12 years ago

ADAPTAP is a new product that is available to replace the tapper for blind swimmers!! It is awesome. Give it a try!

christian chavez
12 years ago

For your son i suggest putting him in swimming its really help my vison improved alot over the last two years please write back and we can talk

Reply to  christian chavez
10 years ago

Would you please email me Christian. Email is [email protected]. This way you could refer me to other options for my son whom is blind at the moment. Thanks ;D

christian chavez
12 years ago

thank you guys for the nice comments. I always like to wake up each day and work hard to be the best i possible can.

Erica Bazalar-Oaks
12 years ago

Congratulations to this incredible young man….May The Lord our God continues to bless you..my son is blind at the moment…he was very premature baby….God in Heaven Thru our Savior Jesus granted him life!….Please any suggestions for his future..thanks!

Carlos Chavez
12 years ago

I talked to Christian and he seemed interested, so we will try to attend. Thanks for the information. Maybe we can visit you this summer in Houston for a day or two. Thanks again.

12 years ago

Thanks for the comments on Christian. This is Christian second year of swimming. He started from scratch. Could not dive or breath properly. He’s really come a long way with a lot of hard work, help from peers, and good coaching. He swims in the summer like everyone else with Triton, in addition puts in an extra workout 3x a week 6:30 – 8:oo am in the summer. Christian swims 50 Free (26), 100 Free (59), 200 (2:16), 100 Back (1:13), 100 Breast (1:20). We’ll let you know what his times are next year. They should be better. He has his personal goals to reach. Keep in touch. Whats your background? Are you a coach, if so maybe Christian can… Read more »

About Braden Keith

Braden Keith

Braden Keith is the Editor-in-Chief and a co-founder/co-owner of SwimSwam.com. He first got his feet wet by building The Swimmers' Circle beginning in January 2010, and now comes to SwimSwam to use that experience and help build a new leader in the sport of swimming. Aside from his life on the InterWet, …

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