Swimming is a great full body workout: it reduces stress, strengthens your lungs, and increases flexibility. Sometimes, swimming can be an intimidating sport. Especially when you have a fear of water that you need to overcome.
Feelings of nervousness are very common among adults who are new to the world of swimming. The clinical term for it is called Aquaphobia and is a very common fear (so don’t worry you’re not alone). You can enjoy this wonderful activity too! Believe in yourself and don’t doubt the process. You came to the right place. This is the first step to getting comfortable in the water. We’ve got a complete guide to get you ready to overcome your fear of water.
1. Set Goals
The key is to set small goals depending on your skill level. If you are a beginner, begin with a goal like exhaling under water five times in a row. Making small, incrementally increasing goals will keep you on track and allow increasing growth in your skills in the water. Don’t get too ambitious right off the bat, you would risk getting setback. Rushing might make your fear of water worse as you might end up in an unsafe, precarious or traumatic situation. If you don’t take it slow, you might be discouraged from trying.
2. Get Proper Equipment
Well Fitted Goggles and Comfortable Swimsuit are a must! A common myth is that goggles should go on as tight as possible to be effective. That’s totally wrong! Tight goggles only create uncomfortable under-eye creases! When goggles are too tight they pull on the bridge of the nose, allowing more water to trickle into them. Not only does water get in, but the pressure around your nose and eyes hurts. To make sure you are comfortable with your new pair of goggles, try on as many pairs as possible. Look for thicker padding for a softer fit and thicker straps that will not tangle hair. For an in-depth look on how to pick the right pair of goggles, check out our article: Choosing the Right Swimming Goggles for You
In order to feel completely comfortable and focused in the water, the right bathing suit is also very important. Make sure that it’s not too tight or too loose, which may distract you when you are trying to swim. Learn which is the best swimsuit material for swimming lessons here!
3. Start Small
Many people with a fear of water tend to avoid setting foot in a pool or the ocean. In order to overcome your fear of water and start swimming, you must start small. There are a few things that can help get you accustomed to interacting with water. Breathing exercises using a bowl of water can get you comfortable with breathing under water. If you are not ready to get into the pool, get yourself a large bowl of water and put your head inside it. This is how pro swimmers learn how to breathe! First dip your head in and out of the water to get used to the idea of having water on your head and face. Then gradually work up to blowing bubbles using your nose and mouth.
4. Shallow End Activities
When you feel ready to get in the water, start with simple activities in the shallow end. This creates a much safer environment, giving you more security to practice your moves so you are comfortable with your abilities before tackling the deep end. Having a swimming instructor teach you the moves will help you learn with proper form and much more quickly and safely than attempting these moves on your own. Your instructor will start you off with breathing exercises, floats, glides and kicking techniques, which serve as the building blocks for swimming using a stroke.
5. Build Up to Treading
Before attempting to swim using a full stroke, you should be able to tread water comfortably for at least 3 minutes – without gasping for air. This means you should be able to keep your head above the water. This is done by moving your arms in front of you in a back and forth motion under the water. This should be done continuously without touching the bottom or sides of the pool with your feet or hands. Introduction to treading water should be done in a warm pool where you will be comfortable, since colder temperatures discourage concentration and learning.
Check out our video on treading! In this lesson we look at the basics of treading water. Mainly how to scull water with our hands, and how to do an effective bicycle kick. If you’re looking for a challenge or ready to move on to the next step, you can see how to do a whip kick and an eggbeater kick as well!
6. Put Together the Basics to Form a Stroke
When you are at the point where you are ready to begin learning a swim stroke, pick a stroke that you find easy and comfortable. Ensuring it’s easy and comfortable for you will help you achieve your swimming goals. Some other adults find the breaststroke a relaxing way to get from point A to point B in the pool. It also takes less skill and energy than other popular strokes like freestyle or butterfly. Here is a simple pictorial guide of the breaststroke, from BBC UK:
When you get the treading down, move onto our lessons on the basics of the freestyle stroke. In this lesson we cover how to do the basic Front Crawl or Freestyle arm movements. When learning how to swim Freestyle it’s important to learn each part of the stroke separately before putting them all together. For Front crawl arms, remember to keep your arms alternating in the water, your fingers together, and your face underwater water blowing bubbles and breathing to the side. Check it out! Also feel free to browse any other beginner lessons that’ll help you out with learning other types of strokes and more!
7. Safety Comes First!
Learn all about water safety and remember it! Always be cautious and alert so you can protect yourself from injury or drowning. At this point, you are beginning to gain confidence, and you can move from the shallow to the deep end using the breaststroke technique or stroke of choice. This is also a good time to incorporate your breathing exercises you practiced earlier. It is important to remember not to get too excited, and continue taking incremental steps. Make sure you always have someone like a swimming instructor or a friend by your side, until you have had enough practice to swim on your own.
8. Set More Goals!
Congratulations! You are now acquainted with the water, and step-by-step, you have managed to shake off your nerves and gain more confidence. Hopefully these steps helped you overcome your fear of water so you can enjoy swimming. Swimming is an ongoing learning process and there is always a new skill you can develop. This is why goal setting should be done at several stages. So set some more advanced goals for yourself, and at the same time enjoy your time in the water because swimming is more than a sport: it’s a fun and healthy activity that you can enjoy at any age.