Swim for Fitness and Health – for Life!

We love to hear your swim stories, and those which demonstrate that habits can be broken and changed at any age are particularly inspirational. We visited regular lap swimmer Gary Crane, to get an update on his health nearly a year after he started swimming and just after his first ocean swim!
February 2020: After stopping smoking in October 2018, and starting swimming laps a month later, Gary is now swimming 1.5 – 2kms a day, in around 45 minutes. He recently participated in the Cole Classic Ocean Swim at Manly, a goal he set himself nearly a year ago as a personal challenge, and made the 500 metre mark in his first attempt. Having undertaken no ocean swimming training, Gary said “the ocean rips and currents got the better of me this first time, but it was a great day out, beautiful weather, friends and family there to support me, and it hasn’t put me off attempting another ocean swim in the future. I set myself the goal of participating, and participate I did!”
So, what’s next for Gary? With his newfound healthy lifestyle providing inspiration, and an empty nest on the horizon following his daughter’s wedding later this year, Gary has decided that “12 years of driving fuel tankers is enough”, and will be relocating to the Gold Coast by early 2021, with more ocean swimming practise and events on the agenda.
When asked if he had any advice for other people looking to increase their health though swimming, Gary said, “just go for it, and don’t let fear stop you – there are lots of different shapes and sizes in the water, and you won’t regret it. I feel the best I ever have and I attribute that to swimming – I feel fantastic!”

(Read how Gary went from smoking half a packet of cigarettes a day and no exercise to feeling fantastic below!)
May 2019: At 47 years old, Cranebrook truck driver Gary Crane was not feeling at his best. Driving a petrol tanker with 18 gears for 12 hour shifts was causing increasing shoulder and back pain, and smoking 15 cigarettes per day was not doing anything good for his asthma. Long shifts of sitting driving was not conducive to healthy food and good nutrition, and the tiredness after long shifts did not motivate Gary to exercise.
Being invited to Darwin on a fishing trip in October 2018 with best mate John Coutis was the catalyst for change Gary needed. John, an internationally renowned motivational speaker with over 1 million Instagram followers, was born with several birth defects which included a much reduced lung capacity. Knowing he could not smoke around John whilst away fishing, Gary decided to quit smoking cold turkey.
Upon his return from Darwin, Gary decided to get fit, but didn’t really feel comfortable in a gym environment, despite his son being a bodybuilder. Thinking “I’ve never seen an unfit swimmer” and having enjoyed swimming as a child to help with his hereditary asthma, Gary decided to give lap swimming a go, first visiting casually, then purchasing a 3 month swimming pass to Nepean Aquatic Centre (using the money saved in just one week by quitting smoking).
The first 25 meters was a struggle, but Gary persevered, determined to improve his “fitness, stamina and breathing”. Just four months later, Gary says he has “found his niche in life”, and the health benefits speak for themselves. Gary is now swimming over a kilometre per visit, 5 times per week, and no longer suffers from shoulder, back or neck pain. He has lost over 6 kilograms in weight and 2 inches around the waist, and doesn’t need to use Ventolin daily anymore, having gone from needing to replace the Ventolin puffer each week to once a month. Feeling better has also led to better nutrition choices – not always easy when on the road for 12 hours a day – but Gary has replaced the service station pies with pre prepared chicken sandwiches on wholemeal bread, fruit and yogurt.
Gary says “Whole days now go past without me needing to use Ventolin, and my mindset has changed completely – I no longer feel the same anxiety about having an asthma attack. I enjoy swimming, it gives me time to think, and is low impact which helps with my previous pain and injuries”. He adds, “I love coming to Nepean Aquatic Centre as it seems to cater for people of all shapes, sizes and abilities – I’ve never felt intimidated or out of place. I’ve found the activity that suits my lifestyle, I look forward to coming to the centre to swim, and I always get out feeling fabulous!”
When asked about his future goals, Gary lists maintaining his new found health and fitness routine, and aiming to ride his bike to swim training by summer 2019. Another aim is to swim in the Cole Classic Open Water Swim in Manly in 2020, and to be fit and healthy for his early daughter’s wedding in November 2020, adding “I want to look good, but honestly it’s more about how swimming makes me feel good”.
Well done Gary, and good luck in achieving these and any other goals you set yourself in the future! Be like Gary – come swim with us at Nepean Aquatic Centre.