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Pool designs aid those with physical challenges
Throughout Central Florida, homeowners are building and renovating their pools and spas with personal and unique features. From fiber-optic landscape lighting and mosaic tiles set in the pool floor and walls, to poolside water seats and tables, and firepits, the list seems endless.
Here, we feature two owners who have adapted their pools for their specific needs.
SPECIAL DESIGNS AID IN RELAXATION AND PHYSICAL EXERCISE
"Every time I am in my pool, I come out feeling great! Weightlessness is such a feeling of freedom," says Bob Gammon of Melbourne.
Outside of his pool, Gammon is part of a growing group of pool owners who live each day with a disability.
The 46-year-old former machinist had a serious fall eight years ago in his native New Hampshire, and as a result is paralyzed from the chest down.
When his doctors said he was ready, his recovery included water therapy. Using water weights, playing catch with a ball and swimming laps have made his arms and shoulders stronger. He proudly talks of how those muscles now allow him to use his pool and spa just as everyone else does — for relaxation and exercise.
Gammon moved to Central Florida four years ago and had a home built in Melbourne. Like many transplanted residents, Gammon wanted a backyard swimming pool to fulfill the Florida dream. He hired Blue Marlin Pools of Brevard to build a 15,000-gallon pool and spa combination with some personal features.
Gammon worked with the firm's designer to incorporate a removable divider between the spa and pool, along with a battery-operated chair lift by Aqua Creek Products of Montana. The 24-volt battery takes a few hours to charge but yields about 20 lifts in and out of the water before needing a recharge.
Sitting on the lift's plastic molded chair, Gammon is lowered gently into the heated spa water for jetted therapy or directly into the pool water to swim laps and practice making free throws into a floating basketball hoop. The spa and pool are at the same level as the deck and water. A plastic divider between the spa and the pool allows for economical use of the gas-heated spa; when the divider is removed, Gammon can swim from the spa into the pool and back again.
Gammon knows the first rule of safety: Never swim alone. He has a spotter poolside in case he gets tired, needs help or just wants to race someone across the length of his pool. Sometimes that special person is one of his two children, his wife, his mother-in-law or a family friend.
The pool is a special place for Gammon — one he uses at least an hour each day when the weather permits to stay in shape, both in mind and body.
SLOPED ENTRANCE MAKES POOL-TIME FUN MORE ACCESSIBLE
Scott Williams of Orlando wanted his family's swimming pool to be functional, yet not identified as being built specifically for a person using a wheelchair.
Williams was in an auto accident when he was younger and is confined to a wheelchair. The 38-year-old co-owner of a canine training and consulting business studied recommendations from the Americans with Disabilities Act when it came to slope and length of an accessible area. He designed an easy-access entry/lazy river ramp for his PVC wheelchair and incorporated this unique design into his 27,000-gallon lagoon pool, built two years ago by Waterworks Construction of Altamonte Springs.
The 3 1/2 -foot-wide access way begins with a beach entry, then gradually adds 6 inches in depth over 6-foot lengths, ending at the shallow end of the pool some 30 feet later. The winding and sloping ramp is positioned between three landscaped planters at the front of the pool.
Halfway down the slope on top of the end of one of the planters, water gently cascades down a small rock fountain, adding sound to this area. Below, a strategically placed pool return sends the water gently flowing into the main section of the pool. Once in the pool's shallow area, Williams gets out of his wheelchair to enjoy the shallow-end therapeutic bench and deep-end grotto complete with overhead waterfall. A full set of steps is on the other side of the slope, between another planter and the lazy river.
Williams and his wife chose a combination of coping and waterline tile along with natural stone to give the pool a lagoon look with a modern feel.
"Our swimming pool allows my wife and I to add to our lives with a great entertainment setting and a favorite spot for personal relaxation," says Williams.
Although his recovery included water-based rehabilitation therapy, Williams points out that nowadays he enjoys just getting in and paddling around on a raft or just unwinding by letting the water take him wherever it wants.