Attention Deficit Disorder and Swimming


Let me start by saying….this blog is written from the perspective of a former swim mom and swim coach. I am not a doctor. Please visit your doctor for any help with your A.D.D.

My daughter was diagnosed with A.D.D. when she was in elementary school. She was not hyperactive. To a teacher, she was the perfect little angel. She never got in trouble and always seemed attentive. What the teachers didn’t know was that she was completely checked out. Her mind was on the boy tapping his feet behind her, the girl next to her whispering to her friend or any other activity going on around her. She could not focus on the teacher, even though she really tried. She wanted so badly to do what she was supposed to be doing at the time, but she just could not filter out the extraneous noises and activities going on around her. She would come home and not remember anything the teacher said….which meant I had to reteach her everything. It made for some really long, frustrating days! When we had her tested and she was diagnosed with A.D.D. it all made sense!

At about the same time, she started swimming. It wasn’t evident at first, but after a while we started noticing that swimming was the calming force in her life. She couldn’t really voice that, but she never wanted to miss practice. She lived to go to swim practice. She absolutely loved it. I thought it was because of her friends there, but I realized later… was way more than that.
Being in a room full of children is going to have a lot going on but under the water all of those noises and movements are gone. It’s just the sound of the water rushing past your ears and the feel of the water against your skin. It is so soothing and was the perfect thing for her.

As she got older, it became even more evident how important swimming was to her mental well-being. Anytime she had a stressful day the first thing she longed for was the water. It always calmed her. She told me she dealt with all of her thoughts and emotions in the water. The water was the best secret keeper and she used water daily to deal with everything. If she was ever upset about anything…the first thing I said was to go get in the water! It helped every time.

But, it wasn’t just the water itself that helped with her A.D.D…..the sport of swimming itself was huge! Swimming takes a lot of concentration and teaches kids how to focus their attention on the problem at hand. You get your instructions from the coach, then you have the time in the water to try to follow his instructions without other distractions. It was exactly the sport she needed. I didn’t know that when I signed her up for swimming, but I am so grateful we found it.
Not only did she figure out how to deal with her A.D.D and do very well in elementary and high school….she graduated with honors from college….and swimming was there for her the entire time! Swimming in college is an experience like no other. Being a college athlete is fun, exhausting, invigorating and amazing. I am grateful for every coach that touched my daughter’s life and so grateful for swimming itself!

Go have a calm, peaceful swim!! Jeannie