Maria’s #LoveSwimming story

Swimming helped Maria Parker-Harris to feel physically stronger and emotionally lighter when fertility treatment took its toll on her mental health.

The Bournemouth woman was left feeling helpless, angry and scared for the future. She said: “It seemed like everyone was pregnant or had babies around me. I isolated myself from friends because I couldn’t cope with my own struggle to conceive.

“My fertility doctor suggested I lose 10 per cent of my body weight to try and kickstart my reproductive system, so I began swimming.”

Maria signed up to the Aspire Channel Swim and found it gave her the time and space to process her feelings. Using swimming as a means of coping, she later fell pregnant and is now mother to daughter Lily Hope.

Maria said: “Swimming gives you the space to work through anything that’s been bothering you. It gives you the time to lighten your load so when you leave the pool, you feel physically stronger and emotionally lighter.

“Throughout the swim challenge, my mental state was improving and seeing my body achieve more than I thought it could helped me believe I could meet the challenge of fertility treatment.

“Mental health is so closely linked to fertility and without the swim challenge, I think it’s unlikely I would have responded so well to the treatment and been blessed with my precious miracle.”

Reduced symptoms

Maria’s story comes as new research showed that 1.4 million adults in Britain felt that swimming had significantly reduced their symptoms of anxiety or depression.

The YouGov poll, commissioned by Swim England, also showed that almost half a million (492,000) British adults with mental health conditions who swim say they have reduced the number of visits to a medical professional regarding their mental health and more than 490,000 people have reduced, or no longer take, medication for their mental health condition as a result of swimming.

#LoveSwimming ‘Escape’

The industry-wide #LoveSwimming ‘Escape’ campaign centres on a film showing the extremes of fast-paced modern life, and the impact it can have on mental health, in contrast with the unique environment offered by swimming.

We are encouraging people across the country to #LoveSwimming with us. Use Poolfinder to find a pool near you.