MIAMI BEACH, Fla. — Aug 11, 2014, 3:20 PM ET
Juan Carlos Gil likes the feeling of independence the sport of rowing gives him.
"The freedom the water can give me is exhilarating when I hear the water flick over the oars," said Gil, who has cerebral palsy, and is legally blind.
Gil, 32, of Miami, is participating in the adaptive rowing program at the Miami Beach Rowing Club, which was recently sanctioned as a Paralympic Sport Club by the U.S. Olympic committee. The free program runs on private donations with a small coaching staff and a group of volunteers. It is open to people with all disabilities.
According to head coach Bob Wright, rowing is a sport that accommodates disabilities very well. Although Gil is unable to use his legs in the rowing stroke, he can compensate by conditioning to strengthen his core in his shoulders, arms and back. His long-term goal is to qualify for the Paralympics.
While out on the water training, Gil encourages Louis Amaro, 36, of Miami Gardens, Florida, rowing in a nearby boat. Amaro became a paraplegic in 1999 as the result of a gunshot wound. He describes his life coping with a disability as a journey where "you have to stay positive."
Here are some images of the camaraderie and motivation shown between athletes in the program.
For more on U.S. Adaptive Rowing programs: http://www.usrowing.org/DomesticRowing/AdaptiveRowing.aspx
For Chicago Rowing Foundations adaptive rowing program: http://www.rowchicago.com/page/show/852040-adaptive-rowing-for-para-athletes