21 November 2023
Prioritising mental fitness can make all the difference for elite athletes, particularly for five-time Australian swimming record holder Tegan Reder.
Tegan Reder was born with rare eye disease Leber congenital amaurosis (LCA) and competes in the S11 category, a classification for blind swimmers, adding an extra layer of complexity to the already high-pressure life of an elite athlete.
“I’ve had to develop a strong sense of resilience and mental strength to maintain a positive outlook and bounce back from challenges that most people wouldn’t have to face - like safely navigating my environment,” the 20-year-old said.
The West Australian is now a proud AIS Mental Fitness Ambassador and psychology student, and credited her family for her dedication to mental health as it was championed throughout her childhood.
“I learned from a young age that having a strong mental health, particularly around self-worth can greatly improve mood, and make life more enjoyable,” Reder said.
“It’s because of this I’ve been able to disregard the more challenging aspects of my sport and focus on the positives - like the feeling of winning my first international medal, or the friends I’ve made.”
The University of Western Australia West Coast swimmer likes to take care of her mental health by ending each day listening to music, self-reflecting and practicing gratitude.
“During periods of intense training, I also take the time to do something I enjoy, like going out with my friends and partner, singing and playing guitar, or going to the beach.
“This allows me to take a step back from the stress of training and just be ‘Tegan the 20-year-old' rather than ‘Tegan the athlete’.”
Having experienced the mental toll life as an elite athlete can have, Reder encouraged athletes to check-in with their team mates regularly.
“Sometimes, just asking someone if they’re okay can have a huge impact on their mental health.
“It reminds them that someone cares about them and lets them know that they don’t have to face everything alone.”