There is one thing you discover quickly when talking to people about the personal passion they have for their sport. It is that sport has transformed their life in some way.
For Amy Walker, one of Scotland's top female wakeboarders, this has truly proved to be the case.
Life before wakeboarding
Prior to finding her passion for wakeboarding, Amy had been suffering regularly with poor health, including regular colds and severe migraines. Amy has attributed these consistent illnesses to the stress she was suffering at the time.
She recalled: “I was a full-time healthcare student who was working two jobs at the same time.
"I had no spare time at all. I was stressed and burning the candle at both ends. It was a typical burnout situation.”
Her lack of free time and regular stress had also resulted in Amy having poor eating habits and developing a social anxiety, which she hadn't experienced before.
Introduction to wakeboarding
At this point, Amy spotted something that intrigued her on her social media feed.
“Someone that I follow on Instagram had posted an image of themselves out at Glasgow Wakepark. It was the first time I had ever heard there was a park in Glasgow so I got in touch."
However, this wasn’t Amy’s first exposure to the water sport.
“I had experienced wakeboarding once before – probably about 10 years before. I had really enjoyed it at the time and just … had never gone back for some reason.”
The reminder proved to be a perfect opportunity for Amy to return to the sport, searching for a small gap in her diary and heading down to the dock for the first time.
Making a difference
Straight away Amy noticed the difference that wakeboarding had made to her physical and mental health.
“It was honestly like a night and day difference for me. I was starting to feel sick a lot less. My headaches were happening less and less frequently as well.”
Amy attributes part of this to the way her re-engagement with wakeboarding allowed her to be sociable again.
“I was really fortunate that there was a group of girls all starting wakeboarding at the same time as me. We’ve all kept in touch and we talk almost every day. It’s been great.”
Louise Gillespie, development officer at Waterski & Wakeboard Scotland (WWS), has identified creating similar situations as a potential opportunity for the sport as the nation moves out of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) lockdown process.
Louise said: “We believe passionately in the benefits that outdoor sporting activities can bring to our physical, mental and social health.
"We are trying to introduce new members to the sports by promoting their uniqueness and its obvious benefits as we emerge from lockdown – it’s outdoors, it’s non-contact, it’s fast and it’s exhilarating!"
Another factor Amy believes contributed to the turnaround in her mental health is the need to concentrate while taking part in wakeboarding. It allows her to get away from external stresses and concentrate on one thing for a while, something she often finds hard to do.
“As soon as I hit the water, I forget everything else going on in my life and focus only on my board and the water. I have tried the gym or other sports and have found that my mind is able to wander whilst doing them. Wakeboarding is different.
"The speed, the intensity and technical nature means you can only focus on the current moment or else you will end up taking a nasty slam!
“Sometimes, a cold dip in the water is just what I need.”