Pool Lifts give the gift of Swimming

Our Oak Ridge, TN community indoor swimming pool has a hydraulic chair lift that enables challenged people to get into and out of the pool easily. The following pictures show how this particular lift works.

The hydraulic lift

The lift is just a chair that is lifted and lowered with water pressure from a hose that is attached to a regular water faucet. (Just like your home's outdoor water faucet.) As the chair lowers it is guided in a spiral path down into the water. The chair has a left armrest that raises out of the way. It even has a Velcro seat belt if it is needed.

The water hose connection

I usually connect the hose myself, although the lifeguards always offer to help.

Water, water, it goes where?

Water from the red hose is turned on or off by pulling up on the round black knob connected to a long stiff wire. The wire is connected to a lever that controls a water valve. When the knob is pulled up, water inside the tall white hydraulic cylinder drains out through the blue hose into the pool's side drain. When the same lever is pushed in the other direction, water from the red hose goes into the white cylinder and the chair is lifted out of the water.

Transferring to the lift

Once the hose is connected and the water is turned on I transfer from my wheelchair into the hydraulic lift. Note that I am wearing zippered SCUBA boots to protect my feet from scraping on the pool bottom.

Lifting the lever

Once I am on the lift, I pull up on the lever connected to the water valve. That drains the water from the lift's hydraulic cylinder and the chair slowly spirals down into the water.

Going down

The chair has already rotated 180 degrees and is now going straight down into the water. Luckily, the water is kept fairly warm so it doesn't feel too cold as I go in.

Raising the lift

Once in the water I press the water valve lever up which raises the lift out of the water and out of your way as I swim. If you look closely, you can see the bottom of the long wire that connects to the water valve.

Getting into the chair

When I'm ready to get out of the pool, I pull the water valve lever down to lower the lift. The chair sinks to about waist level. If it were lower than that, I'd float away. Higher than that and it would be hard to get into the lift.

Going up

A simple shove on the water valve sends me up, up, and around.

Halfway, spiraling up

As the chair raises out of the water it spirals back to its original position. After that, I just transfer back into my wheelchair and head back to the change room. There is a special change room available for challenged individuals at this pool. Otherwise, I would have to climb the stairs with my wheelchair.

Thank your lifeguard

Be certain to thank your lifeguard. She watches over you like a hawk and offers to help whenever she thinks you might need it.

I know there are other types of swimming pool lifts. Some of them lower an entire wheelchair into the water. Some people don't bother with a lift at all. They just roll forward off of their wheelchair into the water. They use their arm strength to get out of the pool and back into the wheelchair. I'm not that accomplished, myself. Whatever method you use, be certain you do it safely and follow the directions of your lifeguard. Swimming is one of the best possible exercises for challenged individuals. Take advantage of it and have fun.