How hydrotherapy helped Matt reclaim his health and happiness

Love Swimming

A routine health check-up proved anything but for Matt Grice.

Matt has bipolar and an anxiety disorder, which left him unable to leave the house. As a result of becoming inactive, his weight fluctuated to more than 35 stone.

Then came the moment that was the catalyst for change for the Luton resident as he was told he had Type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol – all in one appointment.

Through medical advice, Matt was introduced to hydrotherapy at his local pool and he immediately set about losing weight and reclaiming his health.

After a successful 15 months, Matt is now part of latest Swim England-led #LoveSwimming campaign Moving Medicine, which urges the medical profession to be more proactive in prescribing swimming as part of a programme of activity to manage medical conditions and aid recovery.

“I’m thrilled to be part of the Love Swimming campaign and share my story in the hopes that it will inspire others to take up swimming,” Matt said.

“When I was first advised to go to the pool, the idea of getting back in the water was intoxicating as it reminded me of the days when I used to scuba dive.

“Swimming has improved my physical health beyond belief – I can now do something as simple as walk around a supermarket and sleep in bed all night long.

“My mental health has also vastly improved and I’m in a much, much better place.”

Growing confidence

Despite being a competent swimmer, Matt’s anxiety made the first steps back in the pool seem daunting.

“Getting half naked in front of a pool full of people was a big deal for me,” he said. “I made myself go. I told myself I would enjoy it.

“I still have to make myself go some weeks, but I just remind myself of the feeling I get at the end of a session. I’m buzzing. That usually gets me to get into the pool and gets me swimming.”

Matt has a simple message for those who have had similar reservations.

“Persevere,” he said. “Make yourself do it and once you’re over that initial, uncomfortable feeling and you’re in the water, it won’t be on your mind.

“You’ll just be enjoying yourself. You’ll get out of the water after your session and you’ll be a better person.”

Matt’s diabetes, blood pressure and cholesterol are all now back in the ‘normal’ range – something he attributes to regular swimming.

The #LoveSwimming campaign is delivered by Swim England in partnership with 1 Life, Active Nation, Active Lifestyle Centres managed by Circadian Trust, Everyone Active, Freedom Leisure, GLL, Gateshead Council, Leicester City Council, Nottingham City Council, Nuffield Health, Places for People and Serco.

Moving Medicine is the latest wave of the campaign and has featured other swimmers highlighting the benefits of swimming on their physical health, including Steve Wright, who began swimming as a form of rehabilitation after suffering a stroke, Paul Kirby, who suffered intense back pain after years of working a desk job and Wanda Stockdale, who says visits to the pool have helped her manage her osteoarthritis.