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Digital Subscriptions > Psychologies > December 2019 > Local hero

Local hero

When Rachel Garnett heard her neighbourhood pool was under threat, she felt sad, but what could she do? Then she decided to make a stand – and it changed her

When I found out that our local pool, in a culturally diverse borough of London, was to be closed, I swore, and then I cried. Swearing showed my sheer frustration with government cuts that meant councils were struggling to maintain such facilities; weeping because I couldn’t bear the thought of the pool being boarded up, drained and lost forever.

For me, swimming is a lifesaver, and not just in the obvious way. It enables me to deal with a health issue and it has helped me come to terms with a challenging upbringing. It even helped me keep my sense of humour when my fabulous mother-in-law stored food in the bath as her Alzheimer’s took hold.

Without it, quite frankly, I would have needed to access more mental and physical health services.

I know I am not alone in this. As well as giving you a fit, strong body, a YouGov poll by Swim England last year found that swimming significantly reduces symptoms of anxiety and depression.* Incredibly, the study showed that almost half a million adults with mental health conditions who swim regularly say they have reduced their medication or no longer take it which, of course, saves the NHS money.** The unique atmosphere of being supported by water and the rhythmic, aerobic exercise are credited with contributing to this improvement in their emotional health.

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