Swimming proves to be Helen’s escape after cancer diagnosis

Love Swimming

When Helen Bull gets into the pool, she enjoys the ultimate escape.

After being diagnosed with cancer, Helen requires a wheelchair on land, but has full mobility while swimming.

Having previously swum competitively, Helen decided to return to the pool when challenges arose from her gruelling cancer treatment.

It’s proved a successful form of managing pain, while ensuring she maintains her strength and fitness.

Helen, of Bognor Regis, 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 was thrilled to be asked to be part of the Love Swimming campaign and share my story,” she said.

“The benefits I have experienced from swimming are phenomenal – my life would be very different now if it wasn’t for swimming.”

A fresh start

Since taking voluntary redundancy from her role as a HR manager six months ago, Helen has begun teaching swimming at her local pool.

Her thirst for life is apparent by her next set of goals – complete the Ironman swim in Chichester, swim in Windermere, take on a 10k marathon swim and swim the channel.

“Straight away, being back in the water helped with the awful bone pain I was experiencing,” she said. “But the biggest surprise of all was how it helped to lift my mood. I was sleeping better and I felt I was coping better with my treatment. I’d fallen in love with the water again.”

Elaine McNish, Head of Health and Wellbeing at Swim England, believes Helen’s story is just another example of the holistic advantages of swimming.

“To have the support of people like Helen, who’ve experienced the benefits swimming can have, is fantastic,” she said. “I sincerely hope it inspires others to try swimming and transform their physical health.”

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.