The 'feel-good factor' of being in the water ... why Louise values swimming

A new report commissioned by Swim England has revealed how swimming is having a huge impact on the health and wellbeing of the nation. Here, Louise West explains why she values swimming.

Swimming was a major part of Louise West’s life when she was a teenager.

She competed in the pool, as well as in open water and lifeguard competitions.

But a busy lifestyle soon got in the way and Louise became a stranger to the pool.

Decades later, her passion for swimming has returned.

“It was only after injury that I came back to swimming three-and-a-half years ago,” she said.

“I had a spinal injury back in 1995 and I had almost 10 years waiting for surgery, which was a very difficult time.

“I have arthritis in my knees and ankles but that’s not stopping me. It’s a good, low impact sport. You can work at your own level. Even people that can barely walk can have a go in the pool.

“It’s the feel-good factor that you don’t get on land. You come out of the water feeling exhilarated. You just don’t get that with any other exercise.”

Mental and physical benefits

Louise’s comments back up new Swim England findings in the Value of Swimming report, which details the vital role swimming plays in preventing, and treating, physical and mental health conditions.

In the most rigorous research ever conducted by a national governing body, Swim England has revealed that swimming is saving the NHS and social care system £357 million a year.

Getting back into the water was natural for Louise, who says she finds it a ‘very comfortable environment’.

Although she had stopped swimming because she couldn’t find time, the Derbyshire resident has realised the importance of prioritising her mental and physical health.

“Swimming gives me so much. It gives me so much energy when I’ve actually done it,” Louise added.

“I’m buzzing after a session, particularly when it’s a training session. But it also gives me time away from anything digital to almost relax and focus on other things.”

When Louise returned to swimming in 2016, her limit was 20 lengths of the pool.

Now, she has three coaching sessions each week and has made it a part of her life once more.

“I think if you find a pool that you feel comfortable at, you’re less nervous about getting in the water,” Louise said.

“If you want to do something bad enough you can find the time. Even if you start with a few minutes that’s great, once you get going you can’t stop.

“When I’m in the water I come up with new patterns – the ideas just come to me. With one I had to come home and start drawing it out straight away.

“I get flashes of inspiration when all of the distractions are taken away from you.”