User Stories

Doing Water Sports With a Cochlear Implant: Russell’s Tips

Are you wondering how you can do water sports with your cochlear implant? In this article, Russell provides useful insights into how he protects his audio processor during kayaking competitions and also offers practical tips for enjoying water-related activities while still enjoying the world of sounds.

Doing Water Sports With a Cochlear Implant

Hello, my name is Russell. Despite permanent deafness, I have not given up on my hobbies. With the help of my cochlear implant, I play Principal Oboe with the Orquestra do Norte in Portugal. Besides my love of music, I also do water sports, specifically kayaking. I regularly participate in competitions, and during races, my cochlear implant allows me to hear everything around me, enhancing my performance.

Using WaterWear While Kayaking

I used to avoid sports until a kayaking trip sparked my interest 12 years ago. Moving to a new town led me to discover sprint canoeing, which I initially found challenging but soon grew to enjoy. Despite my hesitation at the beginning, the daily challenges eventually motivated me, and I found myself excitedly anticipating each session.

Russell

My aversion to sports ultimately transformed into a newfound passion for kayaking.

Russell

CI user and kayaker from the UK

During kayaking competition weeks, I rely on WaterWear, a fully waterproof cover for my RONDO 3 audio processor. I secure WaterWear with a strong elastic band attached to my earring, ensuring that it stays in place and won’t fall off during the event. Personally, I sometimes wear an additional baseball cap to keep the audio processor even more secure.

CI user Russell kayaking

How My Cochlear Implant Benefits Me

The benefits of having a cochlear implant during water sports extend beyond just myself to my competitors and fellow athletes. During sprint races like the 200m, 1000m, and 5000m, my RONDO 3 plays a crucial role in enhancing my performance. Previously, I struggled to hear the electronic starting buzzer, particularly when it was windy.

Russell

Now, with the RONDO 3’s exceptional ability to capture electronic sounds, I can relax and focus, confidently awaiting the start of each race.

In longer 21km canoe marathon races where circuits and transitions between water and land are common, my RONDO 3 proves invaluable once again. With competitors often closely trailing, the device enables me to remain aware of their presence, whether they’re approaching from behind or alongside me. This awareness is crucial for maintaining strategic positioning and adapting to the dynamic nature of the race, especially during moments when I’m navigating both land and water.

It’s no secret among my competitors that I use a cochlear implant, and being a foreign athlete in Portugal, I tend to stand out.

Russell

With my preference for competing without a baseball cap, my audio processor is prominently visible—my fellow canoeists often joke about me being a “bionic man”—and I proudly embrace it as part of who I am.

3 Tips for Doing Water Sports With a CI

Enjoying water sports with a cochlear implant doesn’t need to be challenging. Here are my tips for what you can do to make this experience as pleasant and effortless as possible:

  • Prioritize Preparation

Ensure your audio processor is properly protected with WaterWear and securely attached with a clip for additional safety. Consider using a headband, baseball cap, or swimming cap for extra security, depending on the activity.

  • Adjust Settings for Comfort

Normal program settings may need adjustment for water sports as the sounds of wind and water can be overwhelming at higher volumes. Experiment with reducing volume and sensitivity to ensure a comfortable and enjoyable experience. Don’t forget to make these adjustments before you hit the water.

  • Embrace the Experience

Ultimately, water sports are about enjoyment and connection with nature. Take the time to appreciate the unique sounds that your CI captures, from the soothing rush of water to the calls of birds and the rustle of leaves.

Allow yourself to fully live in the moment and cherish the special gift that your CI provides—a heightened awareness and appreciation of the world around you.

Thank you, Russell!

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© MED-EL Medical Electronics. All rights reserved. The content on this website is for general informational purposes only and should not be taken as medical advice. Contact your doctor or hearing specialist to learn what type of hearing solution suits your specific needs. Not all products, features, or indications are approved in all countries.

Conversation

2 Comments

Marisa Zijlsyra

June 13, 2024

I have a sonnet and use waterwear during swimming. My problem is the loud noise in my ear from hair, moving etc. This is so loud that I cannot have it. How do you cope with that?

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MED-EL

June 14, 2024

Hi Marisa, thanks for your comment. Your local MED-EL team can assist you with a fitting of your audio processor that can help reduce unwanted noise. Please reach out to them here for further assistance: https://www.medel.com/contact-med-el Kind regards, Gordana

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helga schweizer

June 14, 2024

I use water wear for diving and snorkeling with a water cap, PRIMA

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MED-EL

June 17, 2024

That's great! Thanks for sharing your experience, Helga.

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