Learning to Swim as An Adult – What’s it like?

As a child, my experience learning to swim was not an enjoyable one. For my family and many others in my South Asian community, swimming lessons were unaffordable and therefore we relied on sporadic lessons provided by our school. A bad experience during one lesson where I was pushed in and swallowed what felt like buckets of water put me off swimming for years to come.

It wasn’t until I was in my 40s that I became motivated to learn to swim after seeing a swim challenge for the Alzheimer’s Society. So, I took the plunge. Overcoming my fear of the deep end, learning how to breathe and gaining the confidence to dive in, I learnt to swim!

I fell in love with swimming so much I decided I wanted to inspire others within my community to learn to swim like I had, so I went one step further and became a qualified swimming teacher!

Understandably, many adults with prior bad swimming experiences in their youth, or no experience at all are apprehensive about learning to swim. If you’re one of these people, then read on and hopefully some of your fears will be allayed.

I can’t swim at all – what will my first lesson be like?

To start with, lessons are entirely conducted in the shallow end so your feet can always touch the floor. A typical first lesson focuses on getting you used to being in the water. You will walk around, blow bubbles and begin to learn the basics, using a float or pool noodle to support you.

These first sessions are primarily focused on easing you into the water and overcoming any apprehensions you may have – an instructor will always be close by to guide, support and encourage you.

What do students often find surprising about learning to swim?

How easy it is to float! Many of my students are surprised how they float when I teach them to star float. You just lie on your back with your arms and legs out, tummy pushed upwards and stare straight up at the ceiling – it’s that easy!

How quickly should I progress?

There’s no rush – it has taken some of my students a few lessons to overcome their fear of putting their face in the water and breathing out. This is something your instructor will understand and help you with. After a couple of lessons though I always notice some form of progression even amongst the most apprehensive swimmers!

Who else will be learning to swim?

Everyone and anyone! My adult classes are full of a diverse range of ages and genders – everyone is welcome.

What makes learning to swim such a positive experience?

The sense of achievement. The first time you pick something up from the bottom of the pool or swim though a hoop or dive in, you will be wowed at being able to do something you never thought you could. Swimming is such an important skill and it’s incredibly rewarding to know it’s something you’re able to do.

Hopefully, this has encouraged you to give swimming a go. I couldn’t swim until my 40s and now I can’t wait to try swimming in the sea on my next holiday. It’s a great form of exercise and many, including myself, also find it highly beneficial for their mental wellbeing. Furthermore, it’s just a very important life skill to have – so get down to your local leisure centre and learn to swim!

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