Making strides in the pool

East Tennessee native overcoming disability by perfecting paddle stroke
Updated: Jun. 9, 2021 at 10:20 PM EDT
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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) - There are some folks that come along and you say, that’s what it’s all about. For Dean Jarvis, it’s hard to get a leg up on the competition, but that doesn’t stop him from trying.

“I tried all the standard strokes that I had tried, you know as a teenager, and my balance was off. And then I saw a gentleman, swimming with a snorkel. I had never used a snorkel in my life so I went out and purchased a snorkel, you know, much like an airplane pilot, you want to take off and land against the wind, then that’s how it helped me to balance in the swimming pool,” said Jarvis who added, “I had never swam with a dog paddle motion in my life, but realized that, with the additional resistance, it was perfect.”

Getting in and out of the water is something we take for granted, but it’s much more difficult than it looks when you’re missing a limb. Dean Jarvis, now in 52, has had to deal with that for some time, but getting in the water, and swimming distance is something that has given him a great deal of confidence says Jarvis, ”When you have a 35 year slump, you know I never dreamed I would ever accomplish much in athletics and with this long distance swimming, I mean it’s just changed my whole outlook, and has helped my confidence.”

Dean developed a deadly form of cancer in his leg while in high school. And while that leg is gone, still very much intact is his drive to compete. Jarvis adds, “I started out, you know, I don’t know it may have been, eight laps. And then it just kind of grew from 16 to 30 to 130 to 332 and then basically you know 512 was the most laps, and that was 16 miles.”

His passion for golf and para long drive in golf led him to the pool where he’d be the first to tell you, things are moving along swimmingly, “You know, I’m optimistic, there’s a lot more miles still out there.”

Dean says all the success and failures throught sports has helped him find swimming, the sport he’d like to perure the rest of his life.

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