‘I was terrified of water, but now it calms me‘ ... Mary shares her #LoveSwimming story

Mary Keita had grown up with a fear of water but swimming has proved a source of tranquility at a time when she needed it most.

This is Mary’s #LoveSwimming story.

Growing up in The Gambia, swimming was never an option for me.

We had a beach nearby but we still didn’t have anywhere to swim.

That was because we were told that if we went into the water, we would drown.

We didn’t have any facilities to learn to swim and there wasn’t as much knowledge about water safety as there is in the UK.

I never even thought about swimming – I was just so afraid of the water that I never even bothered to try swimming.

The turning point

That all changed when I began suffering with post-natal depression.

It’s something I’m still dealing with, but I am feeling much better now.

I was having trouble sleeping and I was crying every day, so I knew I needed to try something to help.

I started looking online for potential remedies and I discovered that swimming can be helpful for mental wellbeing.

I decided to give it a go and I started taking lessons about a year ago.

I remember being so nervous ahead of my first lesson, not helped by the low self-esteem I had at the time.

I drank so much water to deal with the nerves, but it didn’t put me off and I decided that I wanted to push through.

I was feeling anxious, but I told myself that I was doing a positive thing and I knew I needed to push on for myself and my kids.

I loved my teacher. Terri. I was in a group session and she was brilliant.

Finding calmness in the water

The lessons have have certainly paid off – I’m in a better place now.

I now consider myself a confident swimmer and I love that I get a whole body workout from being in the water.

Physically, it’s a brilliant form of exercise. I like to stay fit – I like walking into town, which takes about 40 minutes, and now this is something else I can do to keep active.

Mentally, swimming has helped me hugely.

Those thoughts I previously had are now in the background. When I’m swimming, I don’t think about anything but the swimming.

It’s a great form of mindfulness for me.

It makes me feel calm and when I get out, I feel refreshed. It’s brilliant.

If you are in a similar position, you should give swimming a go.

It keeps you fit and if you push through, you will see the results.

When you are in a bad place, you think there is no way of making improvements.

But, as time passes and you swim more, you feel so much better and I’ve really noticed the benefits of swimming.

If you have been inspired to swim by Carey’s story, use Swim England’s Poolfinder to locate your nearest centre.