Podcast — Experience the healing qualities of (real) swimming with (virtual) dolphins at VR Days Europe 2017

VR Days
3 min readOct 25, 2017


Get your swimming trunks ready! The water you jump into is real, the healing effects of swimming with dolphins are real, yet the dolphins are virtual. No animals have been harmed for this therapeutic session.

Benno Brada

Already for some time science has shown a keen interest in the therapeutic qualities of being close to dolphins. Dolphin assisted therapy, as it is called, is very popular. From reducing stress to the capacity to heal, to everything in between — such as that it has been used for children with autism or Down.

Dolphins are highly intelligent, very sensitive and live in complex societies. It is part of what makes them so special and unique and also what makes it so problematic to experience on a large scale. In captivity harvesting their qualities also destroys what makes them so special. Until Virtual Reality came along and the concept of what became the Dolphin Swim Club.

Dolphin Swim Club
Club founder Marijke Sjollema and producer Benno Brada [click above to listen to the podcast with him] invite you to, instead of putting on your diving mask, gear up with waterproof VR goggles and lower yourself in the water. Then you are close to becoming a ‘member’ of the Dolphin Swim Club, an organization here to help multiple disabled patients and at the same time aiming to prevent as much suffering of dolphins and orca’s as possible. Which is badly needed, because capturing dolphins for entertainment and therapy is quite a large industry worldwide. Part of that sad fact is that dolphins in captivity on average will only reach the age of about 15, instead of the 45 to 60 years dolphins will become when swimming around in freedom.

The science of love
‘Dolphins show unconditional love. They accept you for who you are’, explains Benno Brada. Who adds that dolphins have the ability to touch people on a deep level. That’s why the club teamed up with Wim Veling, psychiartist of the University of Groningen, in a project with hospitalized patients who suffer from a depression. And they met with Research Professor Skip Rizzo, Director for Medical Virtual Reality of the university of Southern California. Which led to Stanford University, who run a project called Braveheart ‘which uses our content as a relaxing tool for patients before and after heart surgery.’ Research shows that the VR experience reduces the perception of pain with almost 25 percent. Which is also a reason burning wound patients in the Netherlands will use the virtual dolphin experience. The Dolphin Swim Club has made many more contacts spreading the love of and for dolphins all over the world. Still a lot of work has to be done. Be part of it and jump in.

Meet up with Marijke and Benno and experience swimming with dolphins for yourself at VR Days Europe 2017 — don’t miss out on the tickets!