How stroke survivor Dennis learned to swim using only one arm and one leg

When Dennis Hill lost use of mobility down his right-hand side after suffering a major stroke, he had to learn how to swim using only one arm and one leg.

“I had problems swimming,” said Dennis, who suffered his first stoke in 2003 before a second, life-changing stroke a year later. “I was swimming around in circles.”

But after perfecting his own style in the water, he is now swimming 100 lengths four times a week.

Dennis is part of the 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.

He was advised to take up swimming by his physiotherapist after he gained almost two stone in weight following his second stroke.

The Redditch resident said: “I am thrilled to be part of the #LoveSwimming campaign and share my story in the hopes that it will get other people swimming.

“Swimming has had such a positive impact on my physical health by improving my fitness and aiding mobility. But it has also had a real benefit on my mental health.”

Dennis was in good physical shape when he had his first stroke in 2003.

Although he was initially forced to stop working as an engineer and focus on rehabilitation, the fact he had been active and fit enabled him to recover and return to work soon after.

But his second stroke just a year saw Dennis lose mobility in his right-hand side and was forced to take early retirement.

It’s changed my life completely

He also lost the ability to read, write and count, making his second road to recovery seem an arduous one.

Confined to a wheelchair and using a walking stick, Dennis gained almost two stone in weight, with his activity limited.

But the Redditch resident heeded advice from his physiotherapist and turned to swimming.

He told BBC Hereford and Worcester: “If my physio hadn’t pointed me in the direction of the pool, I don’t know where I’d be today.

“It took a while for me to get the confidence to think about it, then to go down to the pool and do it.

“Persisting through it for probably six months, with the help of lifeguards, I’ve perfected my own stroke now. I can actually go and swim straight using one arm and one leg. I can swim further than I can walk.

“It’s changed my life completely. From just sitting at home, doing nothing, twiddling my thumbs, it’s got me out of the house.

“After my second stroke, I put on nearly two stone, because I was inactive. Now, I’m getting back to my fighting weight now, by 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.