Is your Fear of Water preventing you to learn how to swim?
If you’re afraid of water, it can be hard to even imagine learning how to swim. But if you want to learn and you have the right attitude and mindset, it’s possible to get over your fear in just a few sessions of lessons at the pool. Follow these five steps to overcome your fear of water, so you can enjoy swimming as much as everyone else does!
Step 1: Identify your fears
What exactly is causing you to be so nervous about water? Is it some sort of safety concern, or is it anxiety that’s holding you back? Knowing what’s really at play will help you figure out a solution later on.
Step 2: Form New Positive Connections with Water
There are times in life when people have to force themselves back into an uncomfortable situation. By practicing gradually, you can form new positive connections that ease your fears. For example, start by spending just one minute in water as you get comfortable and acclimated. Then progress to two minutes, then three and so on, until you feel ready for longer periods of time in deeper water. Before long, you’ll be swimming laps like a pro!
Step 3: Practice What You’ve Learned
Once you’ve mastered your fear, it’s time to jump back in. You can’t learn how to swim if you don’t do any swimming. So, when you feel ready, jump in again and start swimming. As long as you don’t hit any walls or run into an octopus, who knows? Maybe one day soon you’ll dive for pearls in an underwater cave! Be patient and know that it might take some time before you feel truly comfortable around water. By practicing what you’ve learned from step one and two (exposure therapy), swimming will become second nature again and—one day—you might even look forward to your weekly trip to the pool!
Step 4: Start Small, Start Often
If you’re an absolute beginner, or are just feeling out of your element, don’t start in a big pool. Keep it short if you need to—every minute underwater is one minute closer to conquering your fear. And as soon as you feel comfortable with that setting, advance to another area where there is more space and freedom for you (and hopefully others) to move around without slamming into each other. At EC Swim, we incorporate simple activities to get you or your child used to the water, what we call ‘Water Familiarity’. Here’s a video of one of the activities we do in the Basic Swimming Course.
Step 5: Re-associate with water
If you begin to feel anxious while trying any of these techniques, tell yourself that you can get out of the pool at any time, no questions asked. Take your time and ease back into it little by little as necessary. This step may take several sessions or even longer depending on how long your fear has been established and how extreme it is. Do not try to change your fear overnight or force yourself into situations that make you panic. That will only reinforce whatever behaviour you are trying to overcome and intensify anxiety over water. Know that each exposure increases your chance for success, so never give up!
Do not let a fear hold you back, you might regret it later in life. Also, enjoying your time in the water is an important part of overcoming a fear of water because if you dread being there, then anxiety will increase instead of decrease. Treat yourself right! Reward yourself when steps forward are taken but also don’t be too hard on yourself when setbacks occur. Give your subconscious mind some credit: every setback teaches us something new about what doesn’t work – valuable information which we then use to inform our next decision or approach. Sometimes all we need is one last push forward before everything falls into place; patience always pays off!