Mental Health and Activity


John Sherwell/Sport The Library

Australian S12 swimmer Jeff Hardy swims freestyle at the 1996 Atlanta Paralympic Games

By: Hunter Sullivan ’20

I love swimming. I love getting up before the whole city does to go to practice with my best friends. I love my coaches, I love racing, I love competing. I love the feeling I get after finishing a really hard set. Swimming was my first love and it will always be a part of me. Swimming has shaped my person, taught me how to work hard, and taught me how to be disciplined. Swimming has ultimately saved my life simply by going to practice every day.

On my hardest days, I always have practice to go to. I always know that my coach will be there for me, my friends will be there to cheer me up, and I know that I can work to become my best self that day. Knowing that I have that escape every day is really important to me as it provides stress relief and a decrease in anxiety levels while also staying in good shape.

According to, 1.4 million adults admitted that swimming a few times a week drastically helped improve their mental health. I also have felt the positive effects of swimming as I notice that days, I do not practice I am moodier and overall more unpleasant to the people around me.

I feel like it is important for everyone to find something like this to provide a release from the monotony of daily life. For me, it’s swimming. For you, it can be jogging or riding a bike. In an era where social media dominates our lives, myself included, it is important to get away from it all and do something that you love doing. You do not have to be the best swimmer in the pool or the best player on the field as well. All that matters are that you are enjoying what you are doing, and you are finding relief through physical exercise. I know not everyone enjoys sports or athletics and that means they just have to shift to something that they know they love, like reading or painting.

Mental health is important, and it is also important for you to look out for yourself. By providing a system of support and structure, one can enhance their overall quality of life. We get a month break from swimming every year and it always feels like eternity because I miss my friends, miss the hard work, and miss the mental benefits I reap. I have found that sometimes it is really challenging to talk about mental issues you are facing, which is why taking care of myself was crucial to my health. When I focused more on how much I gained from swimming rather than how hard practice was, I noticed that it made my days much more enjoyable. Go out there and find your pool, find your field, or find your quiet corner in the library. It will be worth it.