Swim England

A nation swimming

Swimming and aquatic activity is a ‘lifesaver’ ... and Nick is living proof

Experienced swimmer Nick Parkes is urging people considering a fitness drive as part of a new year resolution to get active in the water – as it can be a ‘lifesaver’.

And, as he explains below, that’s certainly true in his case.

If you ask Nick Parkes whether swimming is one of the reasons he is still alive today, he has a simple, one word answer.


Nick is living proof of the health benefits of being active in the water – in fact, had he not been such an avid swimmer for more than 50 years, he might not be with us now.

After suffering a cardiac arrest while competing at the Swim England Open Water National Masters Championships last July, Nick’s remarkable recovery has been attributed, in part, to his active lifestyle.

A little over three months after being revived at the side of the Rother Valley lake he was found face down in during his 5k race and then undergoing open heart surgery, Nick was back in the pool and swimming a mile.

Now the 62-year-old is hoping others thinking of taking on a new year fitness drive will realise the huge physical and mental health benefits of swimming and aquatic activity.

“The health benefits [of swimming] are just phenomenal,” said Nick.

“Get in the pool and leave all your troubles at the door.

“If you can’t swim, just go and walk up and down in that pool, submerge up to your shoulders, be safe and see how you feel.

“Then, if you feel that you want to do a little bit more, have a lesson if you’re not a good swimmer. If you want to take it to a competitive level, go and talk to the Masters section.

“Just think of the benefits you can give yourself.

Going to help

“Go and do it gently because it’s going to help you. It’s low impact and it’s going to help your muscles, help people with back problems and help those with mental health problems.

“It’s a lifesaver. It’s certainly helped me.”

In Nick’s case, that is an understatement to say the least.

Doctors told him during his rehabilitation that the swift response to help him on Sunday 30 July, coupled with the fact he was so fit, were key aspects in him surviving such a traumatic incident.

“That has been endorsed quite a few times from people in the medical profession,” said Nick.

“They would say ‘you’ve got to realise Nick you were fit before this happened’.

“So, it certainly helps.

“I had some in-depth conversations [in hospital] as I’m an inquisitive type of guy.

“One of the consultants said to me ‘I don’t know how you’ve managed’.

“He said ‘you’re second to none. Your body has managed to look after itself and source blood and activate things on the other side of your heart’

“Lots of people were really surprised it happened to me. I’m 62 but I still class myself as an athlete.

Different outlook

“There lies another realisation that you do need to look after yourself and you do need to go and get yourself checked.

“On the face of it, I looked absolutely super fit but there were things going on inside there.

“So, look after yourself and if there are little murmurs, then go and get them checked out.”

Nick admits his experience has given him a different outlook on life but one thing remains steadfast – his love for swimming and the people involved with it.

“I haven’t made a top 10 list and say I must do this or I must do that,” said Nick, “but I do want to enjoy the open world.

“I’ve got a lovely, lovely life. I’ve got a lovely partner, lovely friends and I love the sport.

“It’s a massive part of my life. The people that it attracts are just different animals – they really are.

“They bounce off each other and when somebody does well in the pool or open water, it’s literally like a ripple.

“It can uplift people in the same pool. The atmosphere is just fantastic.

“The swimming world have been absolutely fantastic to me. The camaraderie that’s attached to it just helps continuously.

“So a massive, massive thanks to everybody.”