Between school, sports, after-school activities, hobbies, social media, and the pressures of everyday life, young Kiwis have a lot on their plate! Taking that into account, it’s not hard to see why 8% of children in New Zealand between the ages of 3 and 14, or an estimated 57,000 kids, are experiencing significant difficulties when it comes to their mental health and wellbeing.

According to a survey by the Ministry of Health, in 2021/2022, 23.6% of young people aged 15 to 24 experienced high, or very high levels of psychological distress. At Fulton Swim School we don’t think that those statistics are good enough! We are passionate about supporting young New Zealanders to be as happy and healthy as they can be, and we know that’s only possible if we nurture children’s mental health. 

How Swimming Benefits Children's Mental Health

Swimming is probably not going to be the solution for every child experiencing difficulties with their mental health, we’ll be the first to admit that - as much as we love swimming, it’s not magic! But swimming definitely can help some children to support their own mental health, and learn valuable skills to cope with psychological distress as they grow older, so that more young Kiwis can experience a better quality of life!

Like we said, swimming isn’t a magic fix-all, but swimming regularly has been shown to have so many incredible health benefits, improving not just mental health, but physical health too. Let’s dive into the specifics! 


At every Fulton Swim School, we celebrate every success. Our swim school family loves celebrating the milestones each swimmer achieves, no matter how big or small. We get the kids to ring the achievement bell whenever they’ve mastered a new skill, or given something their best go, each child is given Graduation Ribbons as they move through their lessons and complete levels, and of course, there are lots of smiles and high fives during every class!

Many of the children who start swimming with us have some degree of fear of water. As they work with our awesome swim teachers to overcome that, with the support of the students and spectators around them, these students can find a confidence within themselves that carries over into every aspect of their life. 


Not only do regular swimming lessons improve children’s mental health by helping them to gain confidence within themselves, overcome their anxiety of the pool, and accomplish their goals, but swimming lessons also give them the opportunity to build their confidence interacting with other children, and this often leads to new friendships!

We love to watch our students become friends with each other during their lessons! We make sure to keep all of our classes nice and small, so that every child gets the attention they need. But this also makes it easier for the children to get to know each other, and means that quieter children don’t have to contend with being overwhelmed by a big crowd. We want to make sure each child feels included and no one feels different or left out in the pool.

swimming and mental health - Stress relief

Stress relief

Swimming is a great way to relieve stress and anxiety and get away from the world for a little while. Studies have shown that regular swimmers tend to be less anxious than non-swimmers,  and it’s a great activity if you’re keen for your children to get some screen-free time. 

Swimming, like all exercise, releases endorphins in your brain. If you’re feeling blue, endorphins are those fabulous “feel good” hormones that will help to put a spring in your step! They help to increase positivity and bring about a sense of wellbeing and happiness.

By encouraging your child to pursue a hobby like swimming, you’re helping to set them up with a brilliant, healthy way to blow off some steam that will naturally support positive mental health as they get older and deal with the stresses that come with growing up.

Sensory overload

Children these days are dealing with the pressures of school, the impact of social media, and all of the adult problems like global events and economic strife. As much as we want to protect them from all of these things, kids are often aware of a lot more than we think they are, so it’s nice for them to have a positive space where they can relax, put all of that out of their mind, and just be.

Of course, everyone enjoys being able to switch off the world every once in a while, but swimming is especially good for those who experience sensory sensitivities, particularly related to autism, as they can find relief from the overwhelm while afloat in the water.  

Better sleep

No one can be their best self if they’re not sleeping well! If you’ve ever had a rough night’s sleep and woken up feeling like a grumpasaurus rex, you know exactly what we mean. Children have so much going on in their lives, but even more importantly, so much going on inside their bodies as they grow into adults - it’s exhausting! So it’s crucial that little ones get good sleep. 

Swimming is an incredible full-body workout, plus it’s great cardio too! So it’s an excellent way to tire your kids out, and it’s a lot of fun. Our students’ parents often report that their little ones fall asleep easier after their lessons and have a more restful sleep.

mental health and Swimming at Fulton Swim School

Swimming at Fulton Swim School

No matter what age your child is, or how confident they are in the water, we have the perfect class for them! Not only is swimming a very important life skill, it’s also an incredible way to support healthy, happy, growing children and ensure their wellbeing into the future. So, if you think your child would benefit from giving swimming a go, why not sign up for lessons at your local Fulton Swim School? We’re sure your little one will love it!

It’s never too late to learn to swim though! If you’d like to take advantage of all of the benefits swimming has to offer for your own mental and physical health, and share the excitement of swimming with your little one, we offer adult classes too.