From a dark place to a blue space: open water swimming transformed our lives

Christie, Mark ORCID logo ORCID: and Elliott, David ORCID logo ORCID: (2024) From a dark place to a blue space: open water swimming transformed our lives. Sport in Society .

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This study focused upon two individuals who used open water swimming (OWS) as a therapeutic means of recovery from a significant period of acute mental ill-health, in which both had attempted suicide. A case study approach was utilised to explore the participant’s backstories, mental ill-health, and subsequent recovery. Semi-structured interviews were conducted in the field where each individual typically participates in OWS. In addition, the field researcher kept reflexive notes on his interaction with each swimmer. Both case study profiles - with very different causal factors that led to attempted suicide - are detailed and parallels drawn between the individuals’ experiences of mental health recovery and the role of OWS within this. Whilst findings are not generalisable, they provide an important insight into the potential therapeutic role of OWS in alleviating the impact of acute mental ill-health in relation to suicide and how OWS facilitated a more positive future for individuals. The study also explores how and why such enhancements to mental health might occur.

Item Type: Article
Journal / Publication Title: Sport in Society
Publisher: Taylor and Francis Group
ISSN: 1743-0445
Departments: Institute of Health > Rehabilitation and Sport Science
Additional Information: This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives License (, which permits non-commercial re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited, and is not altered, transformed, or built upon in any way.
Depositing User: Mark Christie
Date Deposited: 29 May 2024 18:51
Last Modified: 29 May 2024 19:00


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