View Full Version : Afraid to let go of flotation devices

March 6th, 2003, 02:40 AM
I am 34 years old and I am really desperate to learn to swim. When I took a class last year I stopped going because the instructor wanted to move to deeper water (8 feet) and I was afraid because I can only stand up in 6 feet of water. I feel comfortable swimming with a noodle to hold my upper body up and an instruction/therapy bar to hold on while I move through the pool, but letting go has been very difficult for me because I keep thinking that I will not stay afloat. Can someone please give me some tips or something that will help me just let go. It took a lot for me to just get to the point of actually trusting the flotation devices. I am starting more lessons on 3/16 and I hired a private instructor for inbetween class times. I just really have a desire to swim for the rest of my life. Please help me out. I'm really desperate here in Virginia.

March 6th, 2003, 10:10 AM
Learn to float on your back first, in shallow water. Stand sideways to the wall, put one hand on the side, and bend your legs until your ears are underwater. Then lay back, still holding on to the wall. Hold your breath. You will float, though your legs may sink. Let go of the side when you are ready.

Make sure your ears are under before you lay back.

Have fun!

March 6th, 2003, 11:11 AM

First and formost, congrats on trying something new, obviously you are looking to step beyond your comfort zone - good for you. As for where to begin with your instructor, talk to them and let them know where you are coming from (It appears you have some apprehension towards water, why? did you have a near drowning when you were younger, you just never had a chance to swim or your parents were afraid of water and transfered that fear to you - these are some of the reasons I have experienced when teaching adult lessons).
Getting comfortable in the water is your first step, no need to go into 8 feet of water, 4 feet will work just as well. Get comfortable with some of the basic skills, floating on your front (stomach) on your back, submerging underwater and holding your breath, rhythmic breathing (sometimes called bobs). Once you have mastered these skills - swimming is built on these foundations. To master these skills, start by holding on the wall or even a very shallow portion of the pool (6 to 12 inches works, just lying in water experimenting with bouyancy on your front and back and slowly progress to deeper water, up to that 4 ft area. Once you are comfortable start using free floating support (kickboards, noodles, floating barbells whatever), once you have mastered that then think about doing it without support and that is all swimming is. Good luck, take your time and make sure you are communicating to your instructor.


March 6th, 2003, 11:43 AM
Your post reminds me of how I was in the water. Freaked! I never learned to swim and had a very bad experience when I was twelve with an open water tide, so needless to say water was not my friend. Fast-forward thirteen years and I find myself dating a swim coach. I wanted to know what he was talking about so I decided to give it a try. Six weeks ago I had my first swim lesson and now I am doing laps and working on my endurance. Yay!

What helped:
First and foremost, I agree with everyone else here; learn to float in shallow water. Learn to relax. I like to hum to myself, it keeps my brain busy, so I don't overthink being in the water.

This is a suggestion from my dad and I love it. Bounce. Start off in the shallow end hit the bottom and 'bounce' back up. Take a breath. Go back under hit the bottom and 'bounce' again. Breathe. Once you've got this under control, bounce into deeper water. Six feet, seven feet, eight feet, Bounce. You'll learn that bouncing off the bottom will get you to the surface easily. You will get more comfortable in deep water knowing that your next breath is only a bounce away.

Don't hesitate. Don't tell yourself "I can't do this." Tell yourself, "I can and I will. Dammit!"

Get in the water and stay in the water. Learn everything you can about swimming. Read about it. Talk about it. Live it.

I am most comfortable right now when I think about anything but staying afloat and breathing. I had my first swim lesson 6 weeks ago and if I think about arm extension, proper technique, form, drills, etc; I am fine. If I start to think about sinking or not getting enough air-then I can't swim or I swim poorly. Think about specific swimming skills not fears. Concentrate on where your arms are, what they are doing, your pacing, whatever, your body will float and breathe on its own, just get your mind out of the way.

Master one swim stroke in the shallow end. I think the breaststroke or sidestroke is a good one for this. Learn it so well that you can cross the shallow end a few times with it. Once you know you can cross that distance, the depth won't matter. You will have the skills to traverse the length of the pool. The rest of the water is just underneath you.

Good luck. I know how hard it is. :)

March 6th, 2003, 11:43 AM
When I first learned how to swim (at a young age), my biggest concern was keeping my head above the water. My siblings had me (voluntarily :) ) submerge my head while taking a bath. Once I got used to the feeling of keeping my head underwater (and that I was in control over how long I had to hold my breath), it was no problem swimming in a pool.

March 6th, 2003, 11:52 AM
Those are some great suggestions!

Try this also: At sometime during the day when you are relaxed imagine yourself floating or swimming without floation devices in water that is 4 feet deep. Pay close attention to how you feel. If you feel anxious, take some deep breaths, try to relax while you are doing this imagery exercise. If you don't feel anxious focus on how relaxed and confident you feel in water this deep. Do this several times a day until you no longer feel anxious about floating without support in shallow water. Then practice this relaxation in the pool while you float in shallow water. Next do the same imagery exercise (out of the pool) but put yourself into a little bit deeper water. By now you've probably learned how it feels physically to float. Pull that feeling into your imagery. Always try to make the imagery as real as possible--you might even want to imagine that someone makes a big splash and water gets in your face while you are floating. What do you do? Try to bring in every sense possible to make your imagery as real as possible. Now how are your feeling? Anxious? Work on feeling relaxed and confident while you imagine yourself floating, knowing that you know how to float or swim. Move your imagery into deeper and deeper water frequently and learn to relax and feel confident on land as you actually move into deeper water.

March 6th, 2003, 07:08 PM
Don't forget, two "elements" need to be mastered: air and water.
Neither can be taken for granted. You'll want to practice just blowing bubbles. as a beginner. Inhale through your mouth. Then, submerge your face and exhale only under water. through both mouth and nose. Blow bubbles, that is.

Master blowing bubbles while you are in water that is not deep enough to be a threat. And hang on to the pool gutter for assurance.

Also don't ignore your intake of pool water. It's gonna happen accidentaly, so be prepared to NOT drink it when it does. Just bend your knees until your mouth is at water level. Pretend you're a little kid and let the water flow in. Hold it briefly then spit it out slowly and easily as if it were the most natural thing to be doing.

Do both of these elementals for a few minutes when you enter the water until they become part of your being. Probably the fact that you didn't do these thing as a youngster is what has kept you away from the water until now.

Kevin in MD
March 7th, 2003, 09:29 AM
They work with people exactly like you. Even sell a tape that helps people who are afriad of the water.

You should check out their website and the tape.