Swimming & Mental Health

April 04, 2019

Swimming & Mental Health

I first launched Deakin and Blue after learning that over 500,000 women have stopped swimming and 1 in 2 mums has stopped taking their child to learn to swim because of body image concerns. This was shocking and sobering for a number of reasons. I know from my own experience that how we feel in our bodies can have a huge impact on our mental wellbeing and, more than this, swimming for many men and women, myself included, is a weekly exercise which is as much for our mental health as it is for our bodies and our fitness. So I was saddened to think that huge numbers of women and their children were being denied access to this incredible activity because the kit simply wasn’t up to scratch.

These days there aren’t many moments in the week when I take a full hour away from my phone, my whatsapp threads, the various social media channels that I’m connected to, my inbox and the endorphine-releasing notifications of apps and incoming messages. Swimming for me is primarily a weekly escape from the noise of every day: an hour dedicated entirely to myself. Sometimes I simply count the lengths and enjoy the rhythmic sound of my breathing and the water rushing past my ears, but on many occasions I spend my time in the water working through a problem I’ve had at work, or thinking through a personal challenge – I find the lack of interruption, the immersion into water, the oxygen pumping around my body is a perfect space for me to problem solve. And I’ve never gotten out of the water feeling less refreshed or less motivated than I did when I got in.

So when I recently asked over 200 of you about the topic, I wasn’t surprised that more than 90% of you said swimming has benefits for your mental health. Anecdotally a number of you tell us that swimming (indoors and outdoors) helps you to manage symptoms of depression but many more are also simply enjoying the mental release and space that comes with a workout that can’t be Instagrammed or ‘checked in’ (at least until they create waterproof phones… here’s hoping they don’t…).

Recent research is beginning to prove what many cold water swimmers have discussed for a long time – that cold water swimming can be used to help improve the symptoms of anxiety and depression. The hypothesis (which any regular cold water swimmer will testify to) is that the shock of being immersed in cold water releases a stress response – an increase in your heart rate, blood pressure and breathing. Dipping in cold water regularly acclimatises the body to the process so the stress response is more normalised. Over time, it’s believed that one’s stress response in general is more manageable.

It’s been one of the great highlights of running Deakin and Blue that we are creating swimwear that helps women to get back into the water and to feel incredible in their own skin – whatever their shape or size. One of my personal highlights since we launched in 2017 is being told by a new customer that she’d enjoyed a swim for the first time in 10 years. And of course – I love seeing the photos of our customers around the world braving ice, snow and more for their cold water dips wearing just a swimsuit. You can tell from the beam on your faces that you feel on top of the world.


Deakin and Blue Cold Water Swimming & Mental Health
D&B customers including Vivienne Rickman-Poole, Alex Heminsley & Ella Foote