It’s hard for any working adult to find time to swim everyday, but award-winning actor Rik Barnett is not letting that stop him. After hating swimming as a kid, Barnett discovered his love for the sport after using swimming to treat back pain. “Ironically enough I hated swimming (as a kid),” Barnett explained in an interview with SwimSwam. “I got into swimming when I was 16, it started as exercise, I had lower back pain and swimming was suggested to me as it is low impact. So, I started out once a week, then twice, then three… before long I was fitting in swims every day, sometimes twice a day.”
In addition to helping with back pain, Barnett used swimming in performing arts school as a way to manage stress and focus learning his lines. And, it helped. Barnett, at age 20, won the 2010 Best Supporting Actor Award at the Ibiza International Film Festival for the film Rebels Without A Clue. His work in the film was reviewed incredibly positively and led to multiple roles in other films throughout the years. Barnett also does a lot of work in UK theater, New Media in Los Angeles, and has a few upcoming plays on tour.
With all of these commitments, though, Barnett still finds the time to include swimming in his daily routine. As Barnett explains, swimming makes him a better actor: “Anytime I need to process my dialogue or script work, I take a plunge in a pool and do my laps and -as if by magic- all my worries and external thoughts disappear and my mind is focused on my lines and stage direction. It is almost like a filter for getting my work done.” Barnett emphasizes that swimming keeps him in shape, it allows him to focus on his lines and scripts, and it gives him an escape from the daily grind. “When I swim under that water it engulfs me, it is so freeing. It helps me process not only work details but personal emotions and ‘life’. It provides a combination of a strong mind and a strong body,” Barnett explains.
And, for an actor with a demanding schedule, swimming provides balance for Barnett as he navigates the crazy world of acting. Barnett is frequently travelling for auditions, tours, or other work. Swimming helps him refocus and concentrate on the task at hand as well as stay in shape while leading a stressful life. But, Barnett tries not to let the stress get to him. “Pursuing a career in Acting isn’t for the faint hearted, I know I will never stop learning, my craft will always be worked on until the day I die,” Barnett says, reflecting on his career choice. “As much hard work as it may be, the payoff to hear an applause or find out you have inspired someone or moved them in some way makes it all worthwhile.”
Clearly, Barnett has found a system that works for him to find a work-life balance. For many former competitive swimmers (and those new to the sport!) swimming can provide a release and a way to balance stress with a healthy activity. As Barnett explains, swimming provides something for everyone as a lifelong sport: “When swimming I see the most diverse group of people, every age, colour, ability and creed. It inspires me that no matter what age I get to; I will -hopefully- be swimming! I truly plan on having swimming be a part of my life for forever.”
Currently, Barnett is working on developing his own one-man show, “Bosie.”