Swimming has helped Helen Bull cope with the pain she experiences due to cancer and she wants others to benefit, as she believes it is the best form of pain management.
Helen, who swims regularly at the Littlehampton Wave, is supporting a Swim England campaign, ahead of World Health Day on Sunday.
The national governing body for swimming is raising awareness of the health benefits of swimming in the hope more medical professionals will prescribe physical activity to manage symptoms and aid recovery.
Helen said: “I was thrilled to be asked to be part of the Love Swimming campaign and share my story. The benefits I have experienced from swimming are phenomenal. My life would be very different now if it wasn’t for swimming.”
She has to use a wheelchair on land but in the water, she has full mobility.
Helen, who lives in Bognor Regis, returned to swimming after being diagnosed with cancer and undergoing gruelling treatment. She found it really helped her cope with the treatment and pain, and now absolutely loves swimming regularly at the pool in Littlehampton.
She said: “My thinking was that getting fit and active again would help me cope with the cancer treatment I was going through.
“Straightaway, being back in the water helped with the awful bone pain I was experiencing. But the biggest surprise of all was how it helped to life my mood. I was sleeping better and I felt I was coping better with my treatment. I’d fallen in love with the water again.”
Previously a competitive swimmer, Helen found being back in the water was the best form of pain management and helped her maintain her strength and fitness.
Since taking voluntary redundancy from her role as HR manager six months ago, Helen has started teaching as a masters coach at Littlehampton Swimming Club.
She is planning to take on the Ironman swim in Chichester in May, a swim in Windermere and a 10k marathon swim before facing her ultimate goal of swimming The Channel.
Helen’s story is part of a wider campaign by Swim England and its 12 partners.
Elaine McNish, head of health and wellbeing at Swim England, said: “Swimming is an ideal activity which can help people manage a range of medical conditions and we are calling on the medical profession to consider recommending swimming to people who would benefit from improved physical health.
“To have the support of people like Helen who’ve experienced the benefits swimming can have is fantastic and I sincerely hope it inspires others to try swimming and transform their physical health.
“As the government and medical profession increasingly move to prescribe exercise as a conduit to improved physical health, we believe that swimming and wider aquatic activity is increasingly the answer for many people and are today calling on health professionals to consider prescribing swimming in ever increasing numbers.”