Swimming Gave Me My Life Back

Last year Bernadette Flynn had a hip replacement, one year later she signed up to swim 22 miles in 12 weeks for charity declaring “swimming changed my life”.

Bernadette suffers from osteoarthritis and diabetes and after three years relying on crutches to get around she underwent hip replacement surgery in January 2018.  

Newly retired, in June of that year, Bernadette joined daytime aqua aerobic classes at Ashton Leisure Centre, at first having to be helped out of the training pool.

After heading to the pool three times a week, Bernadette noticed a real improvement in mobility and decided to give swimming a go and found she could swim 20 lengths of the 25m meter pool. 

In January 2019, one year after her hip replacement, Bernadette signed up to Diabetes UK Swim 22. A challenge which involves swimming 22 miles in 12 weeks, that’s the equivalent of the English Channel.

 Bernadette said: “I thought that is something I could do and then I signed up for it. I thought oh my goodness it's 22 miles in 12 weeks. What have I done? 

“I have achieved so much more than I would ever have thought possible. I am currently swimming between 70 and 80 lengths. three times a week.”

The first steps of getting into the pool weren’t easy for Bernadette, who found body confidence nearly got in the way.

“The first day came, I sat in the car crying when I got here. I just thought, I just can’t do this. But obviously something clicked, and I came in. But those feelings don’t go away and I still felt self-conscious in a swimming costume.”

When asked what her advice would be to others looking to take up swimming or exercise Benadette said: “Just do it. I can't say those feelings go away because they don't. But having conquered that fear on that first day my diabetic HbA1c count has come down and I've stopped taking naproxen, which is the arthritis, drug that I was taking. My cholesterol has come down. I've lost weight. I feel as though I've got my life back.”

Bernadette has now completed the Swim 22 Challenge, which you can donate to via a charity bucket in the reception of Ashton Leisure Centre, and she has joined an open water swimming group.

If you are interested in swimming or Aqua Aerobics find out more on our website.

Last updated: 29 May 2019