Swimming to reset: Kim's story

May 2024

Kim, our head of children, young people and family services, explains how swimming helps her reset her mind ready for the work day ahead and energises her mind and body. She says that swimming has become a key part of her self-care routine

I swim three mornings a week – usually after the school run and before I start work. I’ll swim 750 metres of front crawl in around 25 minutes at a local pool in Steyning.

Swimming in the mornings provides the perfect transition point in my day – from being a parent and getting the kids off to school, to going into work mode. It’s a great mental reset.

I’ve always enjoyed swimming and it’s always been part of my life. I swam a lot as a child. My parents used to call me the ‘water baby’. We’d go swimming as a family to a local pool every Friday night and my grandparents lived by the sea in Devon, so I have great memories of sea swimming in Devon every summer. In fact, that’s probably why I live by the sea now – I live in Shoreham – and I always make the most of swimming in the sea as the weather gets warmer.

I just really enjoy swimming. It’s an important bit of time for myself and it’s time in my own body. I spend a lot of my day – as a parent and at work – thinking, talking, sitting... not being aware of my body. But when I swim, I feel very connected with my body, through the physical act of swimming and because I’m focusing on my breathing.

"Swimming makes me feel present, alive, energised – and relaxed. It’s a moment’s peace at a quieter time of the day, when I can block out everything around me and focus on the activity alone"


Obviously it helps to keep me fit, but it has mental benefits too. It’s extremely mindful – the repetition of the stroke and the focus you have on that. You really get into the zone. You’re also very focused on your breathing. So while thoughts might come and go, you don’t dwell on them for long and you return to your mindful state, focusing on your breath.

Swimming makes me feel present, alive, energised – and relaxed. It’s a moment’s peace at a quieter time of the day, when I can block out everything around me and focus on the activity alone.

While I can sometimes find other environments quite challenging for my senses, for example, crowded places, with swimming at my local pool, that doesn’t happen. I feel super-relaxed while I’m doing it – and I feel energised afterwards. And it helps me to feel more alert throughout my day at work.

I also like the feeling of being held by the water and the weightlessness of it. There’s a marked difference between when you’re in water and surrounded by it and the moment when you get out. So I like to spend some time just floating around and enjoying that feeling of weightlessness.

It’s an activity where I can challenge myself and push my limits too. I recently completed a 1.5km Swimathon at Steyning Leisure Centre, which I did in 48 minutes and 30 seconds. This is a personal best for me! I did it as a personal challenge and fundraised for Macmillan Cancer. The atmosphere was great, the coaches were encouraging and there were swimmers completing different distances – from 400m to 15 km. I found the experience very rewarding and I’m planning to build up to the 5km next year!

I’d really recommend swimming to anyone thinking about doing some gentle exercise and it’s very accessible. I’d say, just get out there and do it. You deserve to give yourself this time. Whether you’re new to swimming or revisiting an old habit, you can build up slowly and make swimming your new healthy habit.