Swimming World Presents – A Voice For The Sport: Speaking Out On Mental Health – By John Lohn

Voice For the Sport Tokyo Olympics pool

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A Voice For The Sport

Speaking Out On Mental Health

By John Lohn

For all she has accomplished in her career—including eight medals over three Olympiads—Allison Schmitt is making her first Swimming World cover appearance this month. When we learned that fact to be true, there was a sense of bewilderment. How could an athlete as decorated as Schmitt have not been featured? It was just one of those fell-through-the-cracks situations.

The opportunity to highlight Schmitt this month is pleasing. There is the chance to celebrate her Hall of Fame career, but more important, the opportunity for Schmitt to discuss her bouts with depression and mental-health struggles. As an athlete who has ascended to the top of her sport, Schmitt will long be revered for her talents in the pool. Yet, she recognizes the impact she can have on others by speaking out about her challenges.

Every day, countless individuals are faced with mental-health struggles. They may experience depression or anxiety. They may possess suicidal thoughts. They may not recognize their self-worth and live in a constant cycle of inner pain. While some of these individuals will seek help and address their struggles, many more will not. The implications of not confronting these challenges run the spectrum—from living a painful life to tragically ending one.

Schmitt is no stranger to applause, the crowning moment of her athletic career a gold medal in the 200 meter freestyle at the 2012 Olympic Games in London. Her performance was mesmerizing, as Schmitt charged to the front of the lead from the start and dared her rivals to stay with her. They could not. The effort etched Schmitt into Olympic lore, but it also opened the door to her mental-health difficulties. Was Olympic champion her identity? What was next? They were questions she faced.

Ultimately, Schmitt confronted her struggles, and has been a proactive voice speaking about the importance of mental health. It is often said that athletes should not be role models, or athletes occasionally will express disinterest in handling that identity. Schmitt, though, is one of several swimmers who has embraced the importance of being forthright with her issues and someone willing to assist others.

Think about the 15-year-old who is a rising star. He or she may be frequently featured in the local newspaper, and eventually have that successful profile reach a national level. Oftentimes, they will be lauded for their achievements in the water, only to feel empty inside and wondering, “But what about me as a person?”

Schmitt, Michael Phelps and Adam Peaty are just three athletes from our sport who have sought out a platform to discuss mental health. Each has given mental health a face that others can identify with and use as support. Through the efforts of Schmitt, Phelps and Peaty, maybe that 15-year-old will think: “If they sought help, maybe I should, too.”

In an interview in early October, just ahead of World Mental Health Day, Peaty spoke of the importance of talking. He also noted there is a stigma surrounding men who talk about how they feel. Eliminating that stigma is crucial. There is nothing wrong with asking for help. In fact, it is braver to reach out and discuss problems than to remain quiet and make one susceptible to mental-health troubles.

“I do think you should talk to the people in your closest circle—your partner, your best friend or your coach or whoever it’s going to be,” Peaty said. “You’ve got to talk to people and to get it off your chest. For me, I respond really well to an issue by just saying something, just getting it off my chest and really thinking about it.”

As Allison Schmitt graces the cover of Swimming World for the first time, we are thrilled to present our readership with the story of this American standout. More, we’re thankful for what Schmitt has done for the sport—and beyond—by opening up about mental health and its importance in the world.

That role is worthy of a gold medal in itself.

John Lohn
Associate Editor-in-Chief
Swimming World Magazine

 

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Swimming World November 2020 Cover - Allison Schmitt - A Legacy Much More Than Gold Medals[PHOTO CREDIT: CONNOR TRIMBLE]

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Swimming World Magazine November 2020 Issue

FEATURES

010 OPEN WATER SWIMMERS OF THE DECADE (2010-19)
by Andy Ross
Since the COVID-19 pandemic prevented Swimming World from naming Open Water Swimmers of the Year for 2020, the magazine, instead, takes a look at the top marathon athletes over the last 10 years.

015 HIGHLIGHTING ISHOF’S 1980 OLYMPIC EXHIBIT
by Bruce Wigo
As we mark the 40th anniversary of the 1980 Olympic Games, much has been written and discussed about the impact on the athletes who were denied the opportunity to compete in Moscow. Lost in most of these discussions is the significance of the boycott to the Olympic movement, which is why, in 2014, the International Swimming Hall of Fame made it the subject of one of the largest permanent exhibits in its museum.

018 OLYMPIC HISTORY WITHIN REACH
by David Rieder
Despite the global pandemic, the Olympic postponement and a coaching change, Italy’s Gregorio Paltrinieri put together some of the best swimming of his career last summer in the 800 and 1500 meter freestyle as well as the 10K marathon. Come Tokyo 2021, he’ll be trying to become the first swimmer ever to capture Olympic gold in both the pool and open water events.

021 STILL SWIMMING STRONG
by Dan D’Addona
Throughout Allison Schmitt’s illustrious swimming career, the three-time Olympian and eight-time Olympic medalist has experienced success and has dealt with her share of struggles. Now 30, she remains goal-oriented and continues to be one of the world’s elite athletes.

026 THE TRUE OLYMPIC SPIRIT
by John Lohn
Pierre de Coubertin developed the Olympic motto that stressed athletic prowess, but he also said, “The most important thing in the Olympic Games is not winning, but taking part.” That description fit Eric the Eel Moussambani perfectly when he swam all by himself in Heat 1 of the men’s 100 meter freestyle at the Sydney Olympics in 2000 and finished in slightly less than two minutes!

COACHING

012 TOUGHEST WORKOUTS (Part 1)
by Michael J. Stott
Here’s a painful—but  productive—sampling from yesteryear of some coaches’ toughest workouts ever.

036 SWIMMING TECHNIQUE CONCEPTS: DEVELOPMENT OF AN OPTIMAL MODEL FOR TECHNIQUE: PART IX—BODY BASE OF SUPPORT FOR BACKSTROKE
by Rod Havriluk
An optimal backstroke body base of support (BOS) depends on first mastering a level torso and then mastering torso rotation. An optimal BOS facilitates the arm motion to maximize propulsion.

038 SPECIAL SETS: A REALLY SPECIAL SET
by Michael J. Stott
Nov. 21, 1975: Mike Bruner’s 100 x 100 on 1:00!

042 Q&A WITH COACH LORI RIEGLER
by Michael J. Stott

043 HOW THEY TRAIN JACK ALEXY AND MEREDITH RIEGLER
by Michael J. Stott

TRAINING

035 DRYSIDE TRAINING: LET’S RACE
by J.R. Rosania
With COVID-19 being managed somewhat and new protocols being put in place, racing is slowly coming back. Here are some exercises that will help get your body ready to race.

JUNIOR SWIMMER

046 UP & COMERS: ALANA BERLIN
by Shoshanna Rutemiller

COLUMNS & SPECIAL SECTIONS

008  A VOICE FOR THE SPORT

014  DID YOU KNOW: ABOUT HYDROMANIA?

029 HOLIDAY GIFT GUIDE

045 THE OFFICIAL WORD

047 GUTTERTALK

049 PARTING SHOT

Swimming World is now partnered with the International Swimming Hall of Fame. To find out more, visit us at ishof.org

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