Olympic hero Thorpey calls on everyone from legends to novices to jump into the water this March in support of youth mental health

01 Mar 2024

Olympic gold medalist Ian Thorpe AM is encouraging everyone across Australia to jump into the pool or ocean this March to take part in Laps for Life - an annual swimming fundraiser held in support of youth mental health and suicide prevention.  

Laps for Life participants set their own swimming and fundraising challenges, which they complete at their own pace and preferred locations throughout March. Funds raised are in support of youth mental health service ReachOut - a safe, online place for young people to chat anonymously, get support, and feel better.  

Laps for Life Ambassador and multiple Olympic gold medal winner Thorpey said that an Olympic year is a great time to get involved in Laps for Life, no matter your swimming ability.

“This March I’m calling on everyone across the country to jump in the pool or ocean and swim Laps for Life in support of young people’s mental health and suicide prevention. 

“You’ll be swimming for the 1 in 3 young people in Australia currently experiencing a mental health difficulty - that could be someone in your family, someone you love, yourself or even your younger self. 

“One of the things I love about Olympic years is the energy and enthusiasm that so many of us feel about trying a new sport or getting back into one we might have forgotten about. It’s always wonderful to hear about people jumping into the water and enjoying the benefits that swimming can have. Laps for Life is a great way to make all of those laps count,” he said. 

ReachOut’s Director of Marketing and Fundraising, Tracey Campbell, said that Laps for Life is an important event that puts mental health and suicide prevention in the spotlight.   

“In the sixth year of Laps for Life, it’s inspiring to see new people jumping into the water and others coming back to challenge themselves once again - both when it comes to their laps and their fundraising. 

“Over the years, Laps for Life has grown into a vibrant community of swimmers united not only by their passion for swimming, but also the cause. Youth mental health and suicide prevention remains at the heart of Laps for Life. This event exists to support the work of ReachOut and to raise funds but it is just as much about sharing stories, opening up conversations and encouraging people to seek support when it comes to their mental health,” she said.

Laps for Life participants have swum over 330,000kms since 2019 - the equivalent of swimming around the world over eight times. Last year alone over 10,000 people took part in Laps for Life and this year swimmers are taking part all across Australia from Sydney to Burnie. 

Laps for Life is open to everyone across Australia and is easy to take part in. People can get involved by visiting lapsforlife.com.au and signing up as an individual, or as a team. 

Join the journey and stay connected by following Laps for Life on socials, visit @LapsForLife.Aus on Facebook and Instagram or share your Laps for Life journey with the hashtags #LapsforLife #Lapsforlife2024 #SwimtoSaveLives. 

For more information about ReachOut, visit ReachOut.com and ReachOut.com/Parents.

Media contact 

Tessa Anderssen / tessa@reachout.com / 0411 708 587 

Note to editors

  • A number of case studies are available for interview. 
  • Images and b-roll footage available on request. 

Key Statistics

  • Since 2019, over 330,000kms have been swum by Laps for Life participants. That’s equivalent to swimming around the world over eight times! 
  • Last year (2023) over 10,000 individuals and almost 2,000 teams took part. 
  • More than 1 in 3 young people in Australia are experiencing a mental health difficulty.
  • More than a million young people with a mental health difficulty are not seeking professional support.
  • Suicide remains the leading cause of death for 14–24-year-olds.


About ReachOut

ReachOut is the leading online mental health service in Australia supporting young people during tough times.

ReachOut helps young people feel better about today and the future, no matter what challenge they’re facing. They provide a safe place where young people can openly express themselves, explore what’s happening in their lives, connect with people who understand their situation, and find the resources to help them manage their challenges now and in the future.

Anonymous, free and 100% online, ReachOut has been designed specifically for – and with – young people. From one-to-one support from experienced peer workers, to online forums, as well as tips, stories and resources, ReachOut offers a wide range of support options that allow young people to engage in the ways they want to, when they want to, and has been doing so for more than 20 years.

And, ReachOut Parents and ReachOut Schools provide valuable information, resources and advice to help parents, carers and educators to better understand the young people in their lives and to play an active role in their wellbeing.

Safe reporting about mental ill health and suicide

ReachOut encourages all media to refer to the Mindframe safe reporting guidelines: mindframe.org.au