Steve Laman says swimming at the Y has not only boosted his confidence and strength, but given him a reason to smile every day.
By Becky Kolosik
"Don't put a limit on anything. The more you dream the farther you get." -- Michael Phelps
For Steve Laman, cerebral palsy is a disability that is part of his life, but it does not define his life.
Caused by injury or abnormal development in the immature brain, usually before birth, cerebral palsy can lead to cognitive and physical difficulties of varying degrees. It’s the most commonly diagnosed disability in children.
Diagnosed at birth, Steve certainly hasn’t let the challenges and physical limitations of cerebral palsy stop him from diving in and living life to the fullest. He’s been swimming at the Y for several years and recently joined the ranks of the 100 Mile Swim Club.
“I swim once a week – a half mile every time,” he says. “I started on March 3, 2015 and completed my 100 miles on April 10, 2019.”
Steve admits he wasn’t even thinking about a goal when he started, but then a lifeguard suggested he keep track of his laps.
Living Life Without Limits
Steve has always enjoyed being in the water. In college, he took an adapted swimming class where he first tried a Wet Vest. It’s something he wears to give him just enough floatation to do a backstroke.
But it would take years to become comfortable in the water. “I wasn’t a very good swimmer at first,” he laughs. “Holding my breath is a challenge and I used to panic every time my head went under.”
Over time, he’s learned to relax and now it doesn't matter if his head goes under for a second.
Steve is grateful for his dad, Duane, who completed the 100 mile challenge right alongside him.
Steve’s dad, Duane, swims right alongside him and completed the 100 miles, too. Even though Duane plays tennis several times a week to stay active, he swims with his son simply for enjoyment.
“It’s reassuring to know he’s right there if anything would happen,” smiles Steve. “I can’t thank him enough for doing this for me.
Steve mostly uses an electric wheelchair to get around, so one of the reasons he enjoys swimming is because he can get places under his own power. And it works every muscle in his body.
Being healthy and active translates to other areas of his life, too. Three mornings a week he volunteers as a teacher's aide at Lakewood Elementary in Norwalk helping students with their reading and he also enjoys writing.
“I mostly write devotionals and have written an autobiography which will be published later this year,” he says.