Are you a nervous swimmer? Are you among the 65% of adults who are uncomfortable if you were in water over your head? Do you swim across your pool with the idea that if you stopped swimming you would sink?
Here at the swim school, we often find that when we have a nervous child, we can usually find that one of their parents is also a nervous swimmer. So here is my remedy and recommendations for some things for YOU, mom and dad or even grandma or grandpa to practice at home. Please do not feel foolish in admitting your nervousness. Research shows that a parent’s anxiety in anything is transferred to the child through subliminal messages in body position, voice inflections or even facial expressions. Do you sit with your arms crossed hunching forward during your child’s swim lessons? Have you ever told your child he or she almost drowned when they went under for periods as brief as two or three seconds. Do you scrunch your face up as you work to submerge your child?
I find that most adults feel propulsion (kicking and arm paddles) is the key to successful swimming. NOPE! We have to learn to work with the water — not power our way through it. So our keys are breath control, balance and buoyancy. Today, I am going to talk about breath control.
So what I would like to encourage you to do, yes you, my adult readers, is to try the following steps to improve your level of comfort in the water. Be patient and always stay in your comfort zone.
Number 1. Remember, never swim alone. So you need to tell someone who will not discourage you that you are gonna work on some simple steps to improve your swimming. They can sit on the pool deck and watch.
Number 2. Comfort with your face in the water. This is a crucial first step. As silly as this sounds, stand in the pool where you can place your hand on the side of the pool. Take a breath and place your face in the water. If you are anxious about opening your eyes, get a pair of goggles. They will be worth the price you pay for the comfort they provide. Now, when you have done this a few times and when you can do it without your heart racing, it is time to think about extending your time in this underwater world.
Number 2 A. If doing the above causes you anxiety, do not worry. Just back up. Stand in the same position with your hand on the side of the pool and lower your body slowly straight down until you chin hits the water and just stay there for a little bit. You can then progress to the point where you can place you mouth in the water, eyes still out. No need to worry about blowing bubbles, just quietly hold your breath. This can take time and I mean 15 to 20 minutes, then stop and come back to it later.
Number 3. Time underwater. In the swim school with our kids, even some of our upper level swimmers, we have tea parties where we all sit on the bottom of the pool. Research shows that the more comfortable a swimmer is underwater, the better decisions they will make and the easier it will be for them to make progress in swimming on top of the water. A relaxed swimmer is a more efficient swimmer. So the goal would be for you to hold on to the side of the pool and do a number of submersions, where you continue to hold on to the side of the pool and submerge your head with your eyes open and build up until you can stay underwater for five one-thousand, come up count to three and then do it three times in a row. When you are comfortable doing this you can begin to let go of the wall, keep you hand close to it but you can slowly gain the confidence that you will not ingest huge amounts of water.
Number 4. Look around when you are under there. Now as you get more relaxed take some time to look around the pool. If other people are there watch them. You will most likely find that it is hard to stay under for too long because you begin floating to the surface. Wow, how about that? You are beginning to float toward the surface.
We have children as young as 18 months who will submerge themselves and just hang out watching the other swimmers in the pool. They will monkey down the ladder to get to the bottom. They will stay submerged for 8 to 12 seconds. Try to slowly build up your confidence. It is an awesome feeling of freedom. Welcome to our underwater world. There are many more joys to come. But practice is crucial. Do not rush it. It has taken you years to build up your anxiety. We can work to overcome them but go slowly.