Behind every metre, there’s meaning for Dr Geoff Toogood.
As a mental health ambassador and cardiologist for Peninsula Health, Dr Toogood has pledged to swim 3,128m for Australia Swims – a metre for every life lost to suicide in Australia in 2017.
After suffering from depression, it’s a cause close to Toogood’s heart.
“I have a personal connection – I had severe depression. Then I went through recovery and became an advocate and ambassador for mental health to create awareness, so people don’t go through the same thing I did,” he said.
“I’ve pledged to swim 3,218m for Australia Swims to create awareness around that figure and honour that number. We want people to seek help, so we can try and reduce that number,” Toogood said.
Since being introduced to the pool by his parents when he was a young boy, Toogood has been swimming for more than 50 years and enjoys the benefits of the sport for his overall wellbeing.
“I love swimming, it’s good for my physical and mental health and it’s also fun,” Toogood said.
“Exercise is very good for mental health. There’s lots of evidence to suggest that if you exercise daily it can minimise symptoms of depression and anxiety.”
Such is his love of swimming – especially breaststroke – Toogood dives into the pool five days a week and over the years, has also taken up a number of long-distance challenges.
“I swam a relay across the English Channel and did a solo attempt – unfortunately I missed by one and a half kilometres, I got pulled out sick.
“I also did the Rottness Channel Swim which is 20km and other numerous open water swims and pool racing.”
Toogood is also the campaign founder of Crazy Socks 4 Docs, which aims to get doctors talking about their mental health by wearing bright, odd socks on June 1.
Australia Swims is a 10-day celebration of Australia’s love for the water which ends on Monday 28 January.
If you or a member of your family needs support, call Lifeline on 13 11 14. This is a confidential telephone crisis support service available 24/7 from a landline, payphone or mobile.