Steven (aka Seamen) Morris is a proud blueseventy New Zealand Ambassador represents those of us that are not elite athletes.
Steven's story as to his WHY for swimming is a reminder of the mental freedom exercise in the wide open outdoors (and especially the open water) gives us!
"At my best I could have been described as a slightly above average Age Group Triathlete. I no longer compete in Triathlon but my once strong competitive spirit is threatening to come back thanks to discovering the relatively new and FUN sport of Swimrun. You will be relieved to learn however, that this article isn’t about my less than stellar Triathlon career or about my modest Swimrun aspirations. It is about how Social Ocean Swimming with others dramatically changed my life for the better.
Like many New Zealanders I battle with depression and in hindsight have been doing so most of my adult life. Looking back there were clues that being in or near the ocean helped me a lot. In my late teens and early twenties I tried Surfing. I was absolutely rubbish at catching waves but I didn’t care. I just loved being out in the water and having banter with friends.
Fast forward to my late thirties (long after I gave up on Surfing). On paper I was living the dream here in the beautiful Mount Maunganui but unfortunately depression doesn’t care about how good things look on paper. Right on my 40th Birthday I experienced a mental breakdown which was scary AF. I had let small frustrations fester until I lost control of my emotions/life. Thanks to the support I received from my partner at the time, my family, my friends, my employer and my GP I didn’t lose everything.
I am a firm believer that Mental Health is very similar to Physical Health. It is important to challenge yourself but if you push things too far for too long without giving yourself a break things will come undone.
As part of my recovery I was advised to try and include something FUN every day. For me that was spending time with my dogs on the beach and swimming in the ocean with mates.
Today, four years after my mental breakdown, I am continuing to use ocean swimming as my main form of medication and actively encourage others to join in on the FUN by advertising swims (free) via The Seamen Ocean Swim Squad Facebook Group Page. As the name suggests I/we have a quirky sense of humor.
We swim almost every day all year round (thanks to quality wetsuits ;-)) and we are blessed to have many landmarks/swimming options available to us here at The Mount. They vary from a Lumpy Lap of Leisure Island (1km) on rough days through to our signature swim The Hallowed Seamen Sea Monster (7-8km) and many swimming options in between.
The exercise induced endorphins, being out in and feeling connected to nature (highlighting the importance to protect our environment), wildlife spotting (Orca, Fur Seals, Rays etc.), meeting new people and having a laugh really does make Social Ocean Swimming hard to beat so look us up the next time you are at The Mount.
Remember to take it easy on yourself and have FUN! "