How Does Swimming Affect YOUR Mental Health?

How Does Swimming Affect YOUR Mental Health?

There’s no doubt that swimming has a huge mental component to it. One of my favorite quotes growing up (who was actually told to me by my sister) is swimming is 99% mental and 1% physical. While that may be not entirely true, you get the gist. You need a tough mental attitude in order to get through those grueling swimming sets. So how exactly does swimming affect your mental health? Let’s dig into this deeper…

Swimming is an Individual Sport.

Yes, there are relays, college teams, and other situations where you swim for a BIGGER thing than yourself — and a lot of times those atmospheres actually result in great swimming performances, but at the end of the day — it’s still YOU in a lane, talking to yourself.

What’s so interesting about this relationship with have with ourselves, is we have the opportunity to say WHATEVER we want during these times. It really wasn’t until I started looking at my next steps after swimming, that I started to understand the ‘power’ I have (and you do too) with how I talk to myself and what I think about. A lot of times we believe our thoughts, emotions, and ticks are out of our control — someone else is behind it all, but that person is actually YOU and learning to take ownership in that is HUGE for you (and your life)!

Swimmers Spend A LOT of Time Alone!

Another big component to swimming is the amount of time that you spend alone. A few months ago I calculated how much time I spent underwater during my swimming career, and here are the numbers:

By the age of 22, I had lived for 192,720 hours.

Out of those hours (on average), I spent 8 hours a day sleeping or 64,240 hours. Leaving me with 128,480 hours left.

Dedication to Swim Practice in Elementary School (K-5th grade): 2,500 hours

Dedication to Swim Practice in Middle School (6th-8th grade): 1,500 hours

Dedication to Swim Practice in High School (9th-12th): 3,500 hours

Dedication to Swim Practice in College: 4,500 hours

Total Time Spent Swimming: 12,000 hours

This equates to 10% of my life (by the age of 22) I spent underwater! 😲

If you think about that, that is crazy. The amount of time I had to ‘talk’ to me growing up is drastically different than most kids who play TEAMBASED sports. I accredit much of my need to process and think things through now to this.

The Studies:

There are plenty of studies out there accrediting swimming to MANY positive physiological changes in our bodies (i.e. lowering blood pressure, increasing strength and you aerobic capacity), but there are less studies correlating the repetitive/meditative component– as a good thing.

Technically, swimming can be like yoga. We have a breathing pattern within all our strokes and physical movements that follow that pattern. We all move through the water within a meditative state — just sometimes with a higher heart rate than others. πŸ˜‰

Swimming is consistent though, and it requires you to be centered within yourself without the constant direction of others or the distraction of you cell phone or any device.

One of the main reason I still swim is it takes me away from my computer, my phone, Instagram — essentially, the world for that moment and THAT piece can be really healing.

So What Do We Do NOW that we can’t swim?

It’s time to train your brain. If any or all of this post has made a lot of sense to you, it’s time (perfect time) to capitalize on your brain training. When we are constantly going to practice, lifting, icing rehabbing, and swimming at meets — it’s hard to add ANOTHER thing into your schedule. But, as we discussed the mental aspect of swimming is HUGE and needs to built upon.

You have time now. I have time now. Let’s maximize this time to make you FASTER next time you hit the pool.

FREE WEBINAR with Swimming Olympic Gold Medalist, Samantha Livingstone

20 Sep 2000: Diana Munz, Jenny Thomspon, Lindsay Benko and Samantha Arsenault of the USA Women’s 4x200m Freestyle Relay team celebrate gold at the Sydney International Aquatic Centre on Day Five of the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney, Australia. \ Mandatory Credit: Al Bello /Allsport

That’s right. I’ve teamed up with University of Georgia Alumni, and Olympic Gold Medalist Samantha Arsenault Livingstone to help you move your swimming career FORWARD during this time.

Samantha is the founder Livingstone High Performance is committed to helping athletes improve their mental health, along with their physical performances. To sign up for this FREE Webinar, click here.



If you follow me on Instagram, you know that yesterday I published a post on a lot of thinking I’ve been doing since the pandemic. The main point of this post is to take control of your cards. Right now, we all don’t have much control of what’s happening. We can’t make the pools open. We shouldn’t leave our houses. Honestly, we don’t even HAVE TO get out of bed — but that’s not who I am (and either are you).

So add a new card into the mix. Plant the seed, and start to water it. Now’s the time to GET FASTER — it’s on you to chose it though.

Until Next Time,

Abbie Fish

P.S., have you signed up for my FREE dryland classes yet? If not, click here!

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