Hello friends, fellow athletes, coaches, alumni, and fans,
My name is David Haines and I'm a varsity swimmer with the Memorial Sea-Hawks. This summer I’m taking part in The 4th Annual Tickle Swim for Mental Health. It’s a roughly 5-kilometer ocean swim from Bell Island to Portugal Cove in an effort to spread mental-health awareness, and support the Canadian Mental Health Association’s work in Newfoundland and Labrador.
Mental illness is something to which I hadn’t really been exposed until recent years. A close friend of mine is currently receiving professional treatment. When my friend informed me of their condition, mental illnesses and the issues that surround them suddenly became a close-to-home reality. I realised that mental illness is not something that someone can deal with alone, or let heal over time. It became clear to me that people who have mental illness must first accept their need for help, and then seek that help from loved ones and medical professionals, just as they would with any other sickness or injury.
Swimming has become a huge part of my life, and as a varsity swimmer, I’ve felt the overwhelming mental stress of trying to succeed in both competition and the exam room, while working a part time job. I began swimming competitively at 11-years old when I joined my local swim club in Conception Bay South, Newfoundland. I had always been an athlete, growing up playing hockey and soccer, primarily, but swimming really took over in my teenage years. Winning a game or scoring a goal was great, but there was something addicting about the adrenaline rush before a race with no team to back you up. Swimming races are a pure test of who’s been training the hardest and who wants to win more with just a pinch of luck. I loved that, and at 21-years old, nothing has changed about how it makes me feel.
The Tickle Swim will be a huge challenge. As a competitive swimmer, I like my pool water a little on the chilly side, which is usually approximately 25- to 28-degrees Celsius to avoid overheating. The Bell Island Tickle during August, however, will be a brisk 11- to 17-degrees Celsius. At this temperature I’ll be wearing a wetsuit, but at 5 kilometers in length, it still won’t be an easy task. Waves and currents will also be a factor with which I’m not used to dealing. I’m really looking forward to this arduous task, since I have always wanted to swim across the Tickle to Bell Island, and I feel to do it for mental-health awareness is a great way for me to use my strength in the water for a good cause. I’m proud to help raise funds for the Newfoundland branch of the Canadian Mental Health Association, and to help spread awareness of mental-health issues in our province. If you’d like to donate to the cause you can do so here -http://www.tickleswim.com/donate.html. I am definitely up for the challenge!
By: David Haines