Sylvia’s #LoveSwimming story

Burns survivor Sylvia MacGregor struggled with anxiety, depression and post-traumatic stress disorder through her teen and early adult years following a childhood accident that left her with severe scars.

Sylvia, from London, said: “I was a competitive swimmer for many years but lacked confidence due to my scars. I would hold back in competitions so as not to be seen on the rostrum receiving medals. But, once I was in the water, all of my self-hating disappeared.

“My mental health went downhill when I stopped swimming but as soon as I was back in the pool, I was at my happiest.”

Sylvia has gone on to set up fortnightly swim groups for other people with scars, burns or skin conditions to help them use swimming as a way to regain their confidence too.

She has shared her story as part of the latest #LoveSwimming campaign, which aims to encourage women to embrace the mental wellbeing benefits of swimming.

Sylvia added: “The effects of swimming are limitless. Besides the health and fitness benefits, I believe that swimming was the only thing in my life that I truly loved.”

Reduced symptoms

Her 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.