Pace It Like A Swim Practice!

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Charlotte Ward

Something I am still in the process of learning is that Cystic Fibrosis does not define me. I was diagnosed with CF at birth, and it is a big part of who I am. It has shaped the way I live and the way I see the world. CF is a big part of me...but it isn’t ALL of me.

I am not naturally athletic, but I found my sport at an early age: swimming. I will never be the fastest swimmer in the pool, but that doesn’t take away from my love of being in the water. The best part of swimming is that the water takes you as you are. I know that if I’m happy, hurting, or am somewhere in between, the water is unbiased and will take me as I am. It may be an odd sport in the grand scheme of things, but going to practice is the best part of my day.

In some ways, swimming is kind of like CF- a constant grind. Breath control and hard, trying sets prepare me for my Pulmonary Function Tests. I know how to hold my breath, so thanks to swimming and now Trikafta too, PFTs are a piece of cake for me, most of the time. I’ve developed a high pain tolerance over the years, so I’m no longer afraid of a little discomfort.

And probably most important, I’m learning how to pace CF like a swim practice, thanks to my coach Camryne’s guidance. Camryne has taught me the importance of taking things one step at a time, whether it be a swim set or a lengthy hospital visit. Just pace it like a swim practice. This advice truly stuck with me, and now, every time I dive into the pool or do something CF related that may be difficult, I pace it. Warmup, pre-set, main set, warm down (literally or figuratively). The first time I tried this tactic after speaking to Camryne about it, my CF clinic visit went incredibly well. I am constantly reminded, at swimming and in the thick of living with CF, that every obstacle is a new challenge. What’s important is the mindset we bring to those challenges.

I have been lucky enough to receive the CFLF Recreation Grant three times now. I have used the money provided by the Grant for one-on-one lessons with my coach. These lessons have been incredibly beneficial to my swimming and both my mental and physical health.

I have continued to grow as a swimmer through individual time with my coach as we work on the tiny elements of my strokes- the angle of my dives, the positioning of my feet during flip turns, the direction my eyes are looking as I swim, etc. Although I attend practice five times a week, one-on-one time with Camryne gives me the chance to look at my swimming under more of a microscope. It has also given us time to discuss the life lessons swimming provides.

Swimming plays a major role in keeping me healthy, and it has become a safe place and source of great happiness for me. The CFLF Recreation Grants have been so impactful in helping me grow as a swimmer, and I’m grateful to have been a recipient of these funds.

Life with CF is very hard; there’s no denying it. But the CFLF has made it easier. My mindset makes it easier. Remembering that CF is not all of who you are, that’s important to remember. And when life gets tough, just pace it like a swim practice...that’s the key!


Help Others Live STRONGER and LONGER- 




Charlotte Ward is fifteen and was diagnosed with Cystic Fibrosis at birth. She is an avid reader and loves swimming, listening to music, and playing ukulele. Charlotte lives in Connecticut with her parents, two younger sisters, and her dog, a Tibetan Terrier named Lulu.





***Views expressed in the CFLF Blog are those of the bloggers themselves and not necessarily of the Cystic Fibrosis Lifestyle Foundation*** 

***Please speak with your physician before making any changes to your CF management***


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