A South Ayrshire man with a passion for mental wellness has discovered solace and strength in an unexpected place - his local swimming pool.

A recent poll by Scottish Swimming found that 70 per cent of active swimmers get in the pool to help boost their mental health.

This includes Paul Cowan, 42, who attends a GP referral swimming class at the Citadel Leisure Centre in Ayr.

He has seen great improvements since starting the weekly class, which is part of Sport and Leisure South Ayrshire.

As his confidence has grown by taking part in swimming lessons, he now also attends general swimming as well as boosting his fitness in the gym.

Now, as part of Mental Health Awareness week, which runs from May 13 to 19, Paul hopes his story gives others the confidence to swim for their health, both mental and physical.

Paul said: “Having something to look forward to every week, getting your bag ready and getting out the door makes such a difference.

“You can come in feeling negative and angry, but once you’re in the pool it washes away, you leave feeling so much happier.

"I come to the class every Wednesday, and always feel refreshed and ready to take on the day. 

"I’m so grateful to be able to swim every week, I’d encourage everyone who can to get in the pool!”

Citadel Leisure Centre, is one of 160 pools delivering the Learn to Swim Framework – a partnership between Scottish Swimming and Scottish Water – with the goal of creating safe and competent swimmers all across Scotland.

Euan Lowe, CEO at Scottish Swimming, said: “Scottish Swimming’s vision is ‘everyone can swim’ and learning to swim is an activity for all regardless of your age.

“Paul's story exemplifies the transformative power of swimming. It's not just about fitness; it's about mental wellness and resilience.

"Swimming is an invaluable skill and we’re determined to make learning to swim accessible to everyone in Scotland, no matter their age or ability.”