Swimming helped West Sussex woman through gruelling cancer treatment

A former competitive swimmer from West Sussex has given her support to a national campaign highlighting the benefits of swimming for physical health.

After being diagnosed with cancer, Helen Bull, from Bognor Regis, returned to the pool ‘to help support her body through gruelling treatment’. according to Swim England.

Helen Bull has recently joined Littlehampton Swimming Club as a masters coach

Helen Bull has recently joined Littlehampton Swimming Club as a masters coach

A Swim England spokesman added: “She found swimming was the best form of pain management as well as maintaining her strength and fitness.

“Whilst she currently requires a wheelchair on land, in the water she has full mobility and now teaches swimming at her local pool.

“The diagnosis has not quashed Helen’s ambition as she takes on the Ironman swim in Chichester, a swim in Windermere and a 10k Marathon swim before completing her ultimate goal of swimming the channel.”

Speaking about the campaign, 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.

“My thinking was that getting fit and active again would help me cope with the cancer treatment I was going through. Straight away, 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 lift 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.”

Swim England said Helen’s story is part of its wider campaign and its 12 partners ahead of World Health Day (April 7).

“The national governing body urged the medical profession to be more proactive in prescribing swimming as part of a programme of activity to manage medical conditions and aid recovery,” the spokesman said.

Swim England said health secretary Matt Hancock called for a ‘culture shift’ and for medical professionals to act on the evidence that activity, such as swimming or long walks, can cut the risk of illness and boost survival from major diseases.

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.”

To find out more about swimming facilities, visit swimming.org/poolfinder and #LoveSwimming.