How Swimming Changed My Life


My name is Mary. I am 53 years old. I first encountered swimming as teenager when my mom booked local swimming lessons for me in St. Enda’s as a present. However, I only went twice as I was very shy and lacked the confidence to continue. I was just too self-conscious.

The years rolled on and I never learned to swim. Following a diagnosis of arthritis of the spine at age 30 I suffered chronic back pain and was on prescription pain killers and anti-inflammatories for years. Eventually, after suffering crippling pain, I was sent by an orthopaedic specialist to undergo physiotherapy and to a pain specialist in an effort to help relieve some of the severe pain.

Sadly, at age 49 I was assessed by the physiotherapist and found to have had a body of that of someone in their late eighties and was thought to be weeks away the point of having to use a walker to get around with the very real prospect of having to use a wheelchair if the physiotherapy did not obtain the desired result. I was devastated.

To make a long story short, swimming was suggested to me as a vital first step of my recovery programme as it is non-weight bearing, it would be gentle on my extremely weak body and joints and it would also be suitable for someone who had a non-existent fitness level. Diana of Diana’s Swim Academy was recommended to me for Swimming Lessons Limerick and I contacted her and explained my story and begun taking private lessons with Diana straight away.

Thus began a love affair with swimming that continues to this day. Diana was so understanding and patient with me and allowed me to learn at my own pace. She encouraged me to persist when at times I felt exasperated with my shortcomings and felt like quitting. On top of issues with weak muscles and difficulty with learning to breathe I also still suffered with shyness and lack of confidence. I knew I was falling in love with swimming, despite the challenges I faced.

Diana helped and encouraged me all the way. She gave me confidence I never knew I could have. I loved every single lesson and found I had no sooner finished one when I was eagerly looking forward to the next lesson. To my great surprise I was soon able to take up other forms of exercise that I also now love, including Sean Nós dancing, kettlebells and fitness training. The need for painkillers and anti-inflammatories ended shortly after I started the programme, which I would never have thought possible.

So swimming has been a life changer for me. I now swim three or four times every week and continue to take lessons from Diana on a regular basis. These are now technique lessons as I am happy to say I intend to do a swimming teaching course to hopefully pass on the love and passion that Diana instilled in me to others and to show that it is never too late in life to learn to swim and to reap the benefits in the form of improved health, physical fitness, confidence and a sense of accomplishment. And of course, the added benefit of meeting others who have a similar passion for swimming.

I will never be able to thank Diana and her team at Diana’s Swim Academy enough. I have a new lease of life and look forward to a life filled with the joy of swimming and helping others to find that same joy.

Mary Hickey

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