Dawn W's story

The physical benefits of swimming are exceptional, but perhaps what is sometimes overlooked is just how much of a positive impact swimming and being in the water has on our mental wellbeing. Something Dawn experienced as she sought to improve the feelings of anxiety she experienced as a result of immense grief. Keep reading to hear, how in Dawn’s words, swimming was literally a lifesaver for her mental health…

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Keep reading for Dawn’s story in her own words

Dawn experienced a terrible loss of both her mum and bother on the same day in late 2014. It wasn’t until 2015 she realised it wasn’t healthy for her to be on her own all day as she described herself as being at ‘a very low ebb’. This was when she decided she needed to do something to improve her lifestyle and tells us ‘I did have to make myself go out because as far as I was concerned, I was the only one who could do this’. 

With thoughts constantly running through her mind all day, largely due to the grief and bad anxiety she was experiencing, Dawn decided to make a lifestyle change and started swimming at Gosport Leisure Centre, along with a friend who was already attending the older adults swim there. Dawn says, ‘I tagged along not quite sure what to expect [I was] a bit excited but also nervous as I hadn’t been swimming for 11 years.’ But she describes how she was quickly ‘hooked’ progressing her swimming to twice a week and even further by attending some of our AquaFit classes. Whilst, as Dawn said, she was nervous, and it took a lot to overcome her feeling of anxiety, she knew it was vital for her mental wellbeing.  

A far cry from her first swim session 8 years ago, Dawn now walks 30 minutes each way to attend two older adults swimming sessions in addition to 5 to 6 Aquafit classes a week! This passion for being in the water has had tremendous positive impacts on Dawn’s mental health, she was able to stop taking tablets and was able to use exercise to curb her anxiety and help channel her grief. Sadly, her husband also suffers with a heart condition but since attending Gosport Leisure Centre, Dawn says, ‘I feel more able to cope as I have friends that I have made there that I can talk to’ and whilst ‘I do still have the odd wobble, I am so much better for going’. 

To anyone suffering from issues surrounding mental health who may be considering exercise to help manage the effects, Dawn’s advice would be ‘give it a go…it doesn't have to be swimming any type of exercise is good for your wellbeing and this is from someone who would do anything to get out of PE at school’  

A final word from Dawn, ‘the Leisure centre has literally been a life saver for me…I am now into my eighth year with my swimming and Aquafit, so thankyou Gosport Leisure centre for being there when I was at my lowest’.  

The benefits of exercise for mental health cannot be overstated, whether that be swimming, attending a class or going to the gym as Dawn said herself… ‘give it a go!’ 

If you are looking to start your fitness journey but are perhaps, like Dawn, feeling a little bit nervous to get started – swimming is a great way to ‘dip your toe’ into the world of exercise that could become the first step into making those lifestyle changes! Join online today and save £10 on your joining fee to start making your first step. 


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