Swimming in the dark is no barrier for man who is blind

September 29, 2011

For many, losing their sight is the worst thing they could imagine happening to them. More than 30 years ago, this fear became reality for Melburnian, Allan Bates.

“I had an accident in my teens resulting in the loss of the left eye. I developed Sympathetic Opthalmia and my over active immune system slowly destroyed the right eye over 30 years. I am now totally blind, can’t even see light and have been for about 20 years” said Mr Bates.

Instead of shying away from his vision loss, Mr Bates became more determined than ever to take on new challenges and prove to people in his life that anything is possible.

“Shortly after I learned I was legally blind, I tried downhill skiing, rock climbing, abseiling and canoeing.  That first year made me realize that blindness was not a barrier to life and that it was up to me to succeed at whatever I chose to do,” said Mr Bates.

Over the years, Mr Bates has been involved in many sports at championship level across the world including tandem bike riding and tenpin bowls. However, after many years Mr Bates has enjoyed taking up a favourite recreational activity – swimming. 

“As a youngster I loved swimming. I never thought I’d be able to swim if I couldn’t see but thanks to Blind Sports Victoria, I was recently given the opportunity to swim in the local pool with a guide. It was just wonderful!” beamed Mr Bates.

Mr Bates continues to swim on a regular basis at his local pool. Over the years, Blind Sports Victoria has opened up many doors of opportunity for Mr Bates and hundreds of other Victorians who are blind or vision impaired.

“I often say, and I genuinely believe, that I’m a lucky bloke! I have a wonderful wife and we really enjoy time with our children and our grandchildren,” added Mr Bates.

“I have so many terrific memories from my involvement in Blind Sports Victoria over the years. If success is measured by winning gold medals, I do have some! But for me the real achievement over the past 40 years has been enjoying the journey – making friends with people from other countries, the wonderful camaraderie I’ve been exposed to and hopefully positively influencing others,” shared Mr Bates.

To find out more about getting involved in blind swimming or other blind sports, please contact Blind Sports Victoria 

Blind Sports Victoria Inc. (BSV) was established in 1977 is a statewide body providing support services to over one thousand blind and vision impaired people. Their range of sport and recreational activities including Cricket, Indoor bias bowls, Swimming, Golf, Tennis, Track and field, Sailing, Ten pin bowling, Snow skiing, Swish, Tandem bike riding, Lawn bowls, Square dancing and Walking program.

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