Are you afraid to swim?

Wednesday, February 5, 2014 by Coach Kristen

In my years of coaching, I have come across many adults that have said they could never learn to swim.  I have worked with all types of non-swimmers coming from different backgrounds.  They didn’t grow up around water.  They had a near death experience.  They didn’t have the time to learn.  They played some sport that injured them.  Whatever it is, I’ve taught them all how to swim.  They all come to me with the same feeling…fear of not knowing where to start.  The fear of sucking in water and drowning is very real.  Not being able to breathe like we do on land is completely unfamiliar.  If you could find a way to lessen the stress of thinking you can’t breathe and allow yourself to get more comfortable in water, wouldn’t you try it?  Well, in this blog I take you through a few steps that can help the person who wants to learn to swim, or even the beginner swimmer, learn how to breathe properly.

  1. Start practicing in the shower. Hold your breath and close your eyes (do not hold your nose), then let the water run over your face.  Come out of the water to take a breath.  Do this until you don’t feel like you are panicking when the water runs over your face.  The next step is to let the water run over your face, tilt your head slightly forward so your chin is closer to your chest, and open your mouth while still in the water.  Try to take a slow shallow breath.  (Don’t suck in fast or you’ll get some water in your mouth).  Exhale.  Repeat a couple times until you are comfortable breathing with the water still running over your face.  This will help to get you ready to put your face in the pool as well as learn the proper breathing technique for swimming.
  2. Practice a forceful exhale.  Lay down on the floor on your back.  Put your hands on your stomach.  Take in a deep breath and feel your hands rise up toward the ceiling as the air goes in and fills your lungs.  Hold your breath for a count of three. On three, contract your abdominals as much as possible and force all the air out of your lungs quickly.  Practice this by letting the air exhale out through your mouth, then another time out through your nose, and another time trying to exhale out through both.  The exhale is one of the most important parts of learning to swim.  If you can do it properly, it will relax you more in the water.
  3. Once you master the first two steps, go to the pool and practice there.  While standing on the bottom, learn to put your face in the water.  Next, learn to put your face in the water and open your mouth while still holding your breath.  Come up to exhale and breathe.  Then do the same thing, but as you come up to breathe, do the forceful exhale you learned in step two.  There should be big bubbles coming up as you surface.  Once out of the water, take a breath like you learned in step one and put your face right back in the water, hold for a count of three, then exhale (out both mouth and nose) and resurface for another breath.

Once you have mastered these three steps, you will be more comfortable in the water and can learn to float and add your arms and legs to the mix to start learning the stroke techniques involved in swimming.  Anyone can learn to swim.  It just takes knowing where to start and the patience to learn the proper technique. 

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