Luke Richards swimming in the ocean
Luke RichardsImage by: Luke Richards
Luke Richards swimming in the ocean
Luke Richards swimming in the ocean
9 November 2020

Ultra-marathon swimmer Luke Richards on his story of recovery

3 minutes read time

“Swimming and the community that surrounds it are a critical part of my mental health, both provide me with a connection to something that helps me tackle the ups and downs."

Ultra-marathon swimmer, Luke Richards has joined forces with men’s health charity, Movember, to share his story of recovery and raise awareness of the global crisis facing men’s health.

Luke is a Movember Community Ambassador, an industry leader in online brand protection, a dedicated family man, and an ultra-marathon open water swimmer. He has recovered addiction, survived suicide and is now on a mission, alongside Movember, to help change the face of men’s health.

“Life was a daily battle. I felt as though I was becoming less and less of a person, I always felt like I was shadow, I was on an island of my own making, and couldn’t really connect to anyone. Consuming a substance became like breathing for me.

The way I saw the world was skewed by my addiction. I was insecure, I lied about who I was, I’d mimic people, and pretend I was good at the things they were. The Luke Richards who existed up until age 37 was a massive fabrication.

I’d reached the point where I thought I’d lose my job, and I finally opened up to my boss. He had lost someone to addiction, and he understood. I realised then I had to be honest with everyone around me, and to myself. I knew I couldn’t change my life by myself, I needed help.

Addiction can be as crippling for families and loved ones as it is for the person going through it. Drugs and alcohol were my coping mechanisms, the fear of not having them was scary. But I decided I wanted to take my life back.

I went to a recovery meeting and in front of 200 people I stood shaking and said “my name is Luke and I’m an alcoholic, and I guess today is the day that I stopped drinking…” I never looked back.”

For a second year, Luke has jumped on board as a Movember Community Ambassador, sharing his story of recovery to inspire others to find hope.

" I feel so incredibly lucky. When you look at the statistics, in Australia we lose seven men a day to suicide. I’m still here. "

“Over the years, I have never been tempted to have a drink – I’ll never go back there. I might see people having a drink on a hot day and think, that’d be nice… but I know there is a rock at the bottom of every glass for me, there’s nothing to gain, and too much to lose. I feel so incredibly lucky. When you look at the statistics, in Australia we lose seven men a day to suicide. I’m still here.

Managing my mental health is a matter of doing a number of things; I keep a consistent routine, make sure I do something for me every day, maintain a positive connection with others and ensure I look after myself physically – which I do through swimming.

I do ultra-marathon swimming now. In 2019 I completed the Port to Pub 25K ultra-marathon, swimming for 10 hours and when the borders open, I’ll be heading to Tasmania and swimming the Derwent river, which is 34kms.”

This year, Luke is taking part in Movember’s Mo Your Own Way, a choose-your-own adventure fundraising challenge, epic in scope and scale, raising much-needed funds and awareness for men’s health throughout the hairy month.

“I grow a scary-looking Mo, so I’m swimming 7 kms every day in November to recognise the seven Aussie men who take their own lives each day.” Help Luke reach his fundraising goal:

Read more about Luke’s story on Kidspot here.