Ready to Dive In? It’s Never Too Late to Learn How to Swim
Posted by Julia Tortorice

In many states where the sun isn't shining year-round and swimming pools are emptied during the winter, it's more common to find adults that never took the time to learn how to swim. Swimming is often seen as a quintessential life skill, an activity for fun, fitness, or even survival. Yet, according to a survey by the Red Cross, while 80% percent of Americans can swim, only 56% of them can perform basic skills needed to save their life in the water. For many, learning to swim can feel daunting or even impossible. However, regardless of your age or experience level, it's important to remember: it's never too late to learn how to swim.

Swimming is an essential skill due to its significant safety implications, as it can protect individuals from drowning, a leading cause of accidental death worldwide. Furthermore, swimming offers numerous health benefits, serving as a comprehensive, low-impact workout that enhances cardiovascular fitness, strength, flexibility, and endurance. Beyond its practical and health values, swimming is a popular recreational activity, allowing participation in various water-based pursuits and sports. Additionally, it contributes to mental well-being, relieves stress, and promotes better sleep. Once learned, swimming is a lifelong skill that opens up opportunities for enjoyment, fitness, and even professional water-related pursuits. Regardless of age, learning to swim enhances personal safety and can significantly improve one's quality of life.

While the myriad benefits of swimming are undeniable, acquiring this life-saving and health-enhancing skill isn't without challenges. For many adults, embarking on this learning journey can evoke deep-seated fears and anxieties. The same water that offers fitness, recreation, and relaxation opportunities can also be a source of trepidation. This fear is not unfounded – water can be a challenging and sometimes unpredictable environment. Various factors, including negative past experiences, societal pressures, and the primal fear of drowning, may hinder adults from stepping into the pool. Let's dive deeper into these fears and how they might prevent adults from learning to swim.

Understanding Fear

Fear plays a role in shaping the significant reason behind many adults who haven't learned to swim. It’s possible that the fear stems from a traumatic childhood experience that happened long ago, and you haven’t processed those memories or tried to learn from them. Another possible reason why someone might fear the water is from the lack of opportunity to be around it, or even cultural or societal factors. Some common fears include:

  • Drowning: This fear is a primal one linked to our instinct for survival. It can be exacerbated by a need for more knowledge about how our bodies react to water.
  • Embarrassment: For adults, the idea of learning a new skill alongside children or simply admitting they can't do something that seems so natural to others can be a source of anxiety.
  • The Unknown: Water, especially in large quantities like a pool or ocean, can be challenging. It isn't easy to see, it muffles sound, and humans aren't naturally buoyant.

Understanding these fears is the first step toward addressing them. And though these fears are valid, they can be managed and overcome with time, practice, and the right approach.

Taking the Plunge: Learning to Swim as an Adult

Taking on the challenge of learning to swim as an adult can feel like stepping into uncharted waters. It's a journey many adults shy away from, often due to deeply ingrained fears or a belief that it's a skill best acquired in youth. Yet, more and more adults are breaking through these barriers and discovering the transformative power of learning to swim later in life. It's a process that involves more than just overcoming the initial trepidation and mastering strokes – it's an opportunity to build confidence, promote health, and unlock a whole new world of water-based activities. This endeavor, despite its challenges, stands as a powerful testament to the fact that it's never too late to learn something new, even when it involves navigating the unexplored depths of a swimming pool.

Now, let's look at how you can go about learning to swim, keeping in mind that every person's journey will be unique to their needs and comfort level:

  1. Addressing Your Fears: Speak openly about your fears with a professional swim instructor. They will offer you reassurances, help tailor a program to your pace, and teach you techniques to handle anxiety and panic.
  2. Choosing the Right Environment: Start with a swimming pool with a shallow end where you can easily touch the bottom, which helps build confidence before venturing into deeper water.
  3. Get Comfortable in the Water: Spend time in the shallow end of the pool, just getting used to the sensation of water. Practice submerging your face, blowing bubbles, and floating with the assistance of a floatation device or the pool edge.
  4. Learning Basic Skills: Begin with essential skills like floating, kicking, and using your arms. Don't rush - take your time to master each one before moving on.
  5. Taking Swim Lessons: Consider enrolling in adult swim classes or hiring a private swim instructor. Participating in swim lessons ensures that you're learning the correct techniques and can provide a supportive and structured learning environment.
  6. Consistent Practice: Like any new skill, regular practice is crucial; Swimming at least once or twice a week to build your confidence and ability gradually.
  7. Celebrate Progress: Celebrate every minor achievement. Even small victories like being able to float unassisted, or swim from one end of the pool to the other, are steps in the right direction.

Overcoming the initial hurdles and learning to swim as an adult can be daunting. The fear of water, the sense of vulnerability, and the challenge of learning a new skill can all seem overwhelming. However, it's crucial to remember that it's never too late to begin this journey. It's a process that takes time, patience, and courage. As you push beyond your comfort zone, remember you're not alone in this endeavor. A vast array of resources, from local community lessons to online instructional videos, are at your disposal, designed to help you gain confidence and competence in the water. Trained professionals are available to guide you, providing personalized instruction and emotional support as you learn and grow. They understand your fears and can help you tackle them head-on, transforming them into stepping stones toward your new aquatic skill. 

The journey of learning to swim is not just about mastering a series of strokes – it's about embarking on a journey of self-discovery and personal growth. It's about tapping into your inner strength, overcoming your fears, and discovering a new, fulfilling, and beneficial pastime. So, why not take the plunge? The process may be challenging, but the rewards are significant. You might find that once a source of apprehension, the water becomes a sanctuary of calm, fitness, and joy. It's a transformation well worth the effort and a testament to the enduring capacity of adults to learn, adapt, and thrive.