The Healing of Water | by Wendy Carter

The Healing of Water | by Wendy Carter

I have been asked why being in the water is a healing place.

Have you ever stepped into a shower after a long, hard day and, for a moment, washed it away? The water runs down your body, your skin reacts, your muscles ease, and with just a little bit of soap and steam, you have a fresh start. I hear that long release of air in the acac locker rooms all the time, the sigh of relief … the yogis are really good at it. I hear it in the hot tub as people do quad stretches, roll their shoulders or just put their head back and meditate. I hear the quick intake of breath upon discovering water so refreshingly cold and invigorating as it buoys people up, that they gasp.

As a synchronized swimmer and coach, I’ve worked with people facing physical, mental, and spiritual challenges. There are days when I am less like an instructor and more of a “water whisperer”. Some people have decades of fear around water because of PTSD. I was blessed to work with a bodybuilder with cerebral palsy, who could walk straighter for a week after a couple of hours of walking in water. One of my synchronized swimmers with a brachial plexus injury became not only a gold medalist, but the miracle child of her children’s hospital when her doctors were shown footage of her doing a backstroke with what was formerly an almost paralyzed arm.  

I’ve helped competitive gymnasts with career-ending ankle injuries find a way to use their gifts in ways they love, that make them stronger.  

I’ve witnessed autistic people squeal with the delight of being surrounded by water with music in it. I have been gripped onto for dear life, and I have been hugged. I’ve seen “can’t” turn into not just “can“, but “fun.”  

So what do I hope people walk away with after one of my classes? I hope they swim away understanding that when they leap and trust, that yes, the water will hold them … that they will relax, find the rhythm of breathing, the ease of movement, and the power of almost flying. I hope they find that in water they can heal gently through an injury, and that with the right combination of doctors, therapists and coaches, they can find peace, grow, dance on water, or even walk again.

I’ve seen miracles happen in water.  

We’re made out of it.  

We’re supposed to be in it.  

Get in the water.  


This post was written by Wendy Carter, an aquatics instructor at acac Fitness & Wellness Centers.  For more information, contact Wendy Carter.