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Beginnerat63
February 14th, 2009, 09:06 AM
Here is my story:

I am a 63-year old male who is looking to started swimming instruction. I was very afraid of the water growing up and avoided swimming lessons througout childhood and adolescence, although my two younger siblings learned without trouble. I was the typical shy, glasses-wearing nerd-type, tall and thin, with mostly intellectual interests. I did try several sports when young but didn't do well at any of them. I gave those up by tenth grade and have only walked for exercise since. I had zero water experience exxcept for some summertime wading in lakes.

I didn't learn to swim in high school, since none of the local high schools then required it. I often wonder what I would have done if they had.

After watching the 1972 Olympics, I finally decided to face my fear and, at age 27, enroll in an adult swimming class. Despite a humiliating experience in the first session ("OK, let's everyone swim down to the end of the pool and back.") I persevered and kept coming. That first session I submerged for the first time, simple but very scary. We worked on very basic skills. It took some courage just to open my eyes underwater.
I worked on the basic stuff, but never enjoyed it. There was minimal emphasis on building confidence and relaxation before moving on to stroke mechanics. We were introduced to deep-water adjustment skills, which I was not really ready for. They included descending the ladder to the bottom in the deep end, deep-water entry, and jumping off the diving board. The last two were terrifying. All I could think of was to get back and grab the side as soon as I could.

I never got totally comfortable with my face in the water. Every time I was in a prone in the water I thought of what it was like to drown.
Being in the prone position in the deep was especially scary. I just couldn't do it.

I took swimming classes off and on for about ten years with only modest success. I did learn the elementary back stroke and back crawl, but couldn't do any storkes on the front. I was given a kick board to practice the flutter kick but, despite much trying, couldn't move an inch. Strangely enough, I could kick across the pool, slowly, without using a board.

ALM
February 15th, 2009, 12:47 AM
It sounds like you need private swim lessons (as opposed to group lessons). That way you'll be able to go at your own pace.

It also sounds like you never completely got over the "fear factor". Today everyone wears goggles, which makes it that much more important to get used to the idea of swimming in the deep end of the pool. Goggles allow you to see much better underwater, which means you're going to be able to see just how deep the water is.

Michael Heather
February 15th, 2009, 01:26 AM
I agree with Jayhawk, you should get private lessons.

The very fact that you still try is good, because it means that this is important to you. You have not given up on trying, so the only logical outcome is that you will face and defeat your fear. Water is your friend. If you relax in it, it will support you.

Best wishes on your progress, we support and applaud your effort!

ourswimmer
February 15th, 2009, 01:20 PM
You might consider a swim program geared especially for adults who are afraid of water, like one from the Miracle Swimming Institute (http://www.conquerfear.com).

Beginnerat63
February 15th, 2009, 11:00 PM
Thanks for the quick replies. I gave up on learning the crawl because it was too hard a struggle. I panic very easily. Although I could swim a passable backstroke, I was tense and I was very well aware that I could not stand up if anything went wrong and that therefore I was not safe. I took instruction for ten years before giving up. I have considered Miracle Swimming Institute, as well as other intensive programs for fearfuls. There don't appear to be many in the US and, unfortunately, none in the Midwest that I know of. They are costly and require traveling a long way, but they may be the only way to finally get the job done. Please comment on the Total Immersion program for teaching fearful nonswimmers, as I live a short way from my state's only licensed TI instructor, who has recommended private instruction with him as the best option he has. for I'm certain that he would be the best instructor I've ever had, but I'd very much like your opinion. I've been undecided about this for a long time. I long to feel comfortable and experience joy in the water, both shallow and deep. Is the TI approach as good as MSI's for this problem? Or is there another good local alternative?

Michael Heather
February 16th, 2009, 12:25 AM
TI is very thorough at all aspects of its training. They never speed ahead, they wait until you are ready to take another step in the learning process. If you have a TI instructor nearby and can afford the cost, I would recommend hiring him/her to help you.

You obviously long to be comfortable in the water, I hope this will work out for you.

ALM
February 16th, 2009, 01:35 AM
Thanks for the quick replies. I gave up on learning the crawl because it was too hard a struggle. I panic very easily.

I had a hard time learning to swim as a kid. I have no athletic ability whatsoever. I also grew up with parents who had never learned to swim and were totally afraid of the water. Believe me, that rubs off on a kid.

I learned breaststroke first. That was all I knew how to swim until I joined a Masters team at age 26. I would recommend breaststroke for you. Not the modern, competition-style breaststroke (which is very tiring) but the old-fashioned, frog-kick breaststroke. Its advantages are that you can look forward instead of down, which may help alleviate your fear. You can lift your head out of the water with every stroke. Plus, it's a good stroke to know because if you ever get in a situation where you are in open water, you can see where you're going if you swim breaststroke.

Anna Lea

Red60
February 17th, 2009, 11:54 PM
Dear Beginnner63:

I really admire your willingness to persist. I think it's brave.

Anna Lea's idea about breaststroke seems like an excellent place to start.

I was a swimmer in high school and took twenty-some years off before coming back to the sport, and in the process I worked with a coach on some mechanics, which involved rebuilding my freestyle practically from scratch. Two years later, I am still drawing on those drills, which have some overlap with the TI approach.

I would give the private TI a try. There is a very satisfying sense of balance that can be gained in the water, that makes it feel like a medium of support. Those TI drills helped me gain a better sense of balance, and I'm glad of it.

It's true that goggles will reveal just how deep the water is. But they give a sense of perspective, too. Without them the water is something that happens to you--you're in it, and that's about all you can say. The perspective adds a sense of self-possession in what first seems like an alien environment.

You can do it! Best of luck.

Beginnerat63
February 18th, 2009, 12:05 AM
Thanks for the suggestion Re: learning the breaststroke. In fact, I was in the process of the learning the breaststroke when I had to stop swimming around 1982 due to a case of swimmer's ear. It was difficult but I was making slow progress when I quit. It was hard but at least seemed doable as compared to the hated crawl stroke, which I had worked on more than anything else. Coordinating all the elements of the latter stroke proved impossible to master, especially the breathing. I've wanted to get back into the water to complete this unfinished task of learning swimming ever since. I do not feel that trying to become an overall competent swimmer at this point is realistic. It makes more since simply to concentrate on becoming comfortable in the water and, hopefully, learning to have fun. Forget about learning to swim. That might come later. Trying to acquire swimming skills in order to be come be safe and comfortable is putting the cart before the horse. I feel strongly that, at least for people like me, a separate course in water adjustment should PRECEDE entrance into a beginning swim class. You cannot really learn even the simplest swimming mechanics without first learning to relax and be in control. Such a course must take an extremely slow and incremental approach, and be taught by a gentle, noncritical instructor. There should be NO emphasis on teaching swimming mechanics, but rather on being relaxed and in control. These skills should involve work in both shallow and deep water. And why shouldn't the student not be taught to have fun in the water? The stress was always on the same grim series of drills attempting to teach basic swim skills. Making someone do something he does not want to do DOES NOT work. It can never work. Pupils must be allowed to view water as a wonderful source of pleasure and delight, even sensuality. You cannot feel both pleasure and fear at the same time. Everything new that he wants to do should seem like fun to the student before he attempts it. Wearing a comfortable set of goggles is a great idea. Without them you can't really see, which feeds into your fear, and also your eyes can feel quite uncomfortable. Water temperature is critical. I found that a pool temperature of at least 90 degrees works very well. That is too warm for most people, but for me it feels great. I tried to learn swimming mostly in pools that were too cold. Trying to learn essentially blinded in cold, clammy water does not work. Just those two things--googles and warm water--would be a huge, huge improvement.

Michael Heather
February 18th, 2009, 01:09 AM
OK, now I am seeing aspects that I missed in your original post. You are correct that if you are not at least comfortable in the water, you cannot learn how to swim. I took for granted that you were OK with being in the water, just not comfortable swimming with your face in it. I now see that we need to back up a bit farther. The pools that you want are located in particular places. Therapy pools for disabled people are routinely kept at about 90 degrees because they cannot move very much at all , and lose body heat rapidly. They may even have a program that you seek. Pools that cater to senior citizens tend to be very warm also. You may be near a health club, they often will keep their pools at about 85 degrees for low impact classes and noodling. That should be warm enough for you to relax in without getting a chill. Public pools or school pools will likely be kept under 84 degrees for economic and health reasons.

I recommend finding someone who is in a similar state of apprehension about water activities as yourself. Having a friend to learn with reinforces any new experience since it is shared. When you do things alone, you have no one to relate to and an unreliable sense of learning, since you have nothing to compare. Shared experiences are far more rewarding for everyone involved.

There are many styles of goggles, take your time to find some that are comfortable on your face. Then when you are looking about underwater, you will not have the worry of leakage. A simple annoyance to most of us, but it could be more intense for you.

Ripple
February 18th, 2009, 02:15 PM
... I do not feel that trying to become an overall competent swimmer at this point is realistic. It makes more since simply to concentrate on becoming comfortable in the water and, hopefully, learning to have fun. Forget about learning to swim. That might come later. Trying to acquire swimming skills in order to be come be safe and comfortable is putting the cart before the horse. I feel strongly that, at least for people like me, a separate course in water adjustment should PRECEDE entrance into a beginning swim class. You cannot really learn even the simplest swimming mechanics without first learning to relax and be in control. Such a course must take an extremely slow and incremental approach, and be taught by a gentle, noncritical instructor. There should be NO emphasis on teaching swimming mechanics, but rather on being relaxed and in control. ... And why shouldn't the student not be taught to have fun in the water? The stress was always on the same grim series of drills attempting to teach basic swim skills. Making someone do something he does not want to do DOES NOT work. It can never work. Pupils must be allowed to view water as a wonderful source of pleasure and delight, even sensuality...
Check out the "Happy Laps" dvd from the Total Immersion people. (NAYY) It is specifically for people who are afraid of the water or have just never learned to swim, and the earliest exercises are simple techniques just to get comfortable in the water. They encourage you to get a partner to help you learn.
I so agree about the "grim series of drills". On Sunday mornings I go to the YWCA for my long swim and frequently take a lane next to two ladies who are trying to learn to swim. The instructor keeps saying things like "Now kick really hard! I want to see white water!" and as a result they don't seem to be progressing at all or enjoying the process one bit.

Beginnerat63
March 1st, 2009, 05:05 PM
What great advice I have received from those posting on this forum! I have, in fact, been in touch with Mike Daley, the TI coach in Wisconsin, who lives near here. He has suggested I work with him one-on-one, as he feels that learning swimming that way would be best for someone like me, a rather serious aquaphobe. I have been considering taking up his proposal for quite some time. You have persuaded me to give him a try.
It would mean an eighty-mile round trip for each lesson, but I feel it may be the best chance for me to achieve my goal.

I'd also like to, know, though, how does the TI method of teaching fearful nonswimmers compare with that of Melon Dash, of Miracle Swimming? Which would be better for dealing with this type of problem? I have also been in contact with her, but her workshops, like those of other intensive programs for curing aquaphobia, are effective, but cost a lot. I like the idea of learning close to home from a master teacher. It would also give me the opportunity to get in a lot of practice time, which I would not be able to do if I had to stay in a distant location while I am learning to swim. Mr. Daley requires three hours of practice time
for every hour of lessons. Unfortunately, the warm-water pool he uses initially is shallow, with a cold, deep-water pool used later for more advanced skills. It is better to acquire deep-water adjustment skills in warm water. I can't tolerate cold water for learning relaxation and general water-adjustment, which are absoutely vital, nor do I like being in a cold pool.

It is very hard to find a warm, deep-water pool, since most facilities have either a single, cold-water pool, or else a warm shallow pool used for teaching and a larger cold pool used for lap swimming. It would be ideal if Mr. Daley would agree to do his teaching in a warm-water pool that is also deep. I do know of a pool like that at a nearby YMCA, but it is quite unlikely he would agree to use it--it is about fifty miles from where he lives and I don't know if that facility would allow him to use it. I have been in that pool and it is absolutely delightful. He'd expect his student to learn swimming skills in the shallow pool I mentioned above and then transfer them to the colder, deep pool later. Still, I will follow up on the suggestions made here. Please let me know what you think and give me more ideas about my problems concerning my situation.

ALM
March 1st, 2009, 10:28 PM
I'd also like to, know, though, how does the TI method of teaching fearful nonswimmers compare with that of Melon Dash, of Miracle Swimming? Which would be better for dealing with this type of problem?

I think you are focusing too much on the "methods," which probably aren't going to differ all that much. They're all going to focus on getting you to relax and feel comfortable in the water. More important in my opinion is to work one-on-one with someone (as opposed to a group lesson).


Unfortunately, the warm-water pool he uses initially is shallow, with a cold, deep-water pool used later for more advanced skills. It is better to acquire deep-water adjustment skills in warm water.

Swimming is swimming, whether it's in water 3 feet deep or 100 feet deep. Everything is the same, from floating on your back to swimming freestyle or butterfly. The only difference is that in a deeper pool, the bottom is farther away from you.



It is very hard to find a warm, deep-water pool, since most facilities have either a single, cold-water pool, or else a warm shallow pool used for teaching and a larger cold pool used for lap swimming.

What I have experienced is that there is a lot of temperature overlap between what I would call a "cold" pool and a "warm" pool. The pools where my team has worked out over the years are what you are referring to as "cold". They typically range from 80 to 85 degrees, usually 82 or 83 degrees. If you're moving around at all, that's tolerable. The pool where we currently work out is usually 81-82 degrees. They teach infant and tot lessons in that pool and the kids seem to tolerate the water temperature OK.

ViveBene
March 2nd, 2009, 07:21 AM
I think Jayhawk has pretty well hit all the issues (nice avatar!). "Cold pool" throwed me for a bit. As you move around more, the "less warm" pool will seem about as warm as the "warm" pool. For greater comfort initially, turn up your own body heat with mild exercises such as arm whirling or a few jumping jacks just before you get in the pool. Maybe if you think of it as a larger pool you'll reach comfort zone faster. Cruise back and forth in the shallow end until you are ready to do more. It sounds as if the Y near to you could be used for practicing, no?

Congratulations on moving forward with this project!

:applaud:

Beginnerat63
March 6th, 2009, 10:20 PM
Thanks for all the good advice. The idea that going one-on-one for instruction is an excellent one. For a fearful or anxious learner, it makes great sense to be taught that way rather than in a semiprivate or group environment, since such a person requires a great deal of attention in order to meet his special needs. He would need to very gradually learn relaxation and confidence-building skills, ideally taught by a patient, specially trained instructor. You just can't get that in a situation where the instructor must divide his time among several students.

It is also important, I think, to find an instructor you personally can click with, a point I have never seen made in the various books and comments I have seen about swimming. Nothing can turn you off about swimming faster than having a bad personal experience with someone teaching you when you're learning to swim. I have had such experiences with several such people in the past. Instructors, when confronted with an anxious or slow learner, seem either to become indifferent or openly hostile to such an individual. Not a very good situation.

I happen to be quite thin and can't tolerate colder pools, especially in a learning situation. I have found that the ideal temperature for me would be around 90 degrees or higher. When you are trying to learn elementary aquatic skills, you must have warm water in order to relax--cold water would interfere with that process and would also make learning very unpleasant. I would be standing around a lot and not generating much heat, as I would when swimming steadily in the pool. Doing windmills, etc., before entering the pool would not work, as you would immediately lose body heat upon entering the water. Last year I was in a pool whose water was around 86 degrees--I felt cold and, within an hour, I actually started to shiver--the first stage of hypothermia.

It doesn't make sense to learn swimming skills in shallow water and then expect to suddenly transfer them to deep water. You can learn to swim across the pool well enough in the shallow end, but do not expect to do the swim the same way in the deep end. I have found that that indeed doesn't work.

Yes, of course, the physical properties of H2O are the same regardless of depth, but as the innovative Berkeley swim school founder Melon Dash has said, deep water doesn't feel the same as shallow water. I can float like a cork--there is no problem with that--yet I do not feel confident when crossing over into deep water. It is absolutely necessary to build confidence in both shallow and deep before starting to learn swim mechanics. I don't mind it at all if that process takes a long time--in fact that would make it a lot more enjoyable.

Once the deep emotive part of the brain is thoroughly trained to learn that water holds nothing to fear, it can then absorb the needed swimming skills rather quickly. Learning swim techniques alone does not lead to loss of fear, rather, the reverse is true. You can learn to have a darn good time in deep water without having to move around in it a lot.
I'd like an instructor who would see it that way.

Ripple
March 7th, 2009, 10:18 AM
...It doesn't make sense to learn swimming skills in shallow water and then expect to suddenly transfer them to deep water. You can learn to swim across the pool well enough in the shallow end, but do not expect to do the swim the same way in the deep end. I have found that that indeed doesn't work...
Trust me, the skills are exactly the same. It seems to me that you are over-analyzing things and it also seems that you have two completely separate issues to deal with: a) lack of swimming technique, and b) fear of deep water.

Just deal with the first one for now. Spend a year or more learning in a shallow pool, and don't even think about the other issue. If cold is a problem, get a neoprene paddling shirt to wear while learning.

When you feel ready, then work on your deep water anxiety. Perhaps take a snorkeling class through a local dive shop in their deep tank. Or even take a few of those deep-water aquasize classes where people put on float belts and do exercises to music. A woman once told me she'd overcome her fear of deep water by doing that.

You'll know when you're ready. I bought that Happy Laps dvd for my step-daughter because she'd mentioned she felt anxious in water and that it inhibited her ability to take her kids to the pool and play with them. When I gave her the dvd, she chose to interpret it to mean it was for the girls, who in fact have no fear of water and swim quite well. So, clearly she wasn't ready yet. (By the way, it's worth buying as an addition to any other lessons. One of the demonstrators is a woman who overcame a 50 year fear of water after watching a childhood friend drown, and there are several exercises that you can do at home.)

Joe Swimmer
March 7th, 2009, 11:01 AM
Yes, of course, the physical properties of H2O are the same regardless of depth, but as the innovative Berkeley swim school founder Melon Dash has said, deep water doesn't feel the same as shallow water. I can float like a cork--there is no problem with that--yet I do not feel confident when crossing over into deep water. It is absolutely necessary to build confidence in both shallow and deep before starting to learn swim mechanics. I don't mind it at all if that process takes a long time--in fact that would make it a lot more enjoyable.

Once the deep emotive part of the brain is thoroughly trained to learn that water holds nothing to fear, it can then absorb the needed swimming skills rather quickly. Learning swim techniques alone does not lead to loss of fear, rather, the reverse is true. You can learn to have a darn good time in deep water without having to move around in it a lot.
I'd like an instructor who would see it that way.

You are obviously a smart and thoughtful person. These traits can sometimes lead to negative results in unintended ways. I agree with Ripple, you are over analyzing the issue. Beyond that, you are also trying to control too much. You have control of the selection of a coach or teacher. You tell them your fears and apprehensions, then THEY teach you how to overcome. Trust in the process is a factor that you have not yet exhibited. No swimming teacher is going to ask you to dive into the deep end of the pool until you show that you are ready. You may not think you are ready when they do, and that is the time to confer about the change, not now.

It is good that you have opened yourself to the possibility of learning to swim once you have conquered your irrational fear of water. Have you taken the first step yet? That is, go to the local pool and register for lessons?

As an aside to your feelings about shallow versus deep water. The deep end of a pool is the most comforting, relaxing, fun part of the pool. When not training, I often will go to the deep end and try to get neutral buoyancy in the middle of the water (about 5 feet deep), floating as if in outer space. Totally quiet except for your own heartbeat. It is a spiritual experience. Once you have gotten comfortable in the deep end, try it.

Beginnerat63
March 8th, 2009, 04:05 AM
..Unfortunately, I can't get back into swimming again because currently I am recovering from a painful foot problem which keeps me from walking barefoot in a pool area. When I have recovered I will definitely enroll with an instructor.

Despite all the thinking and planning, there is simply no substitute for actually getting in the water and getting

acclimated. Last year I was in an aquatics exercise class for those with arthritis or chronic pain, where I tried a few swimming skills while the class was getting ready to start. I found I had lost the skills I had learned years earlier, even including how to put my face in the water. I need to start over, this time with a better swimming instructor.

You can't learn on your own, but need a good instructor. You need to commit yourself to a specific plan of action, which will involve a long, possibly discouraging series of lessons.

I need to talk to a prospective instructor ahead of time to inform him of any problems or goals I want to achieve. I don't want another failure in trying to attain this life goal.



But the prospect of being in deep water without fear is something I just can't give up. Hanging suspended in deep water. or being submerged in warm, clear water with total relaxation, are incredibly sensual experiences that alone make it worthwhile to learn swimming.

.. I would especially love to learn the feet-first entry into deep water without fear--an important safety skill we assume everbody knows.

I am eager to get started when health permits. I appreciate the intelligent advice I've seen in these postings. I've scanned other threads to glean what advice I can--it's heartening to discover there are a few others with problems like mine, especially overcoming fear of the water.

I will continue to make reports on my progress as instruction gets under way and I'm looking forward to receiving more replies.

Beginnerat63
July 6th, 2009, 11:34 PM
Wow! I had my first swimming lesson in a year and a half. I am starting out new with a wonderful instructor that seems to be just what I need. The facility is just right too--it has two deep-water pools. The one I am starting out in is a nice, twenty-yard long, warm-water pool (ninety degres), with a maximum depth of eight and a half feet. I had to move fast to register for lessons there because the place, an older YMCA near here, is closing in only two months. Deep, warm-water pools are near- impossible to find.

I am in private instruction twice a week with a patient, gentle instructor, whom the aquatics director chose for me in order to fit my needs. In this first lesson today, July 6, I started out wading in the shallow end, then I practiced floating on my back and then slowly kicking on my back across the pool. The instructor accompanying me, I moved slowly all the way around the pool, holding onto the gutter and each time pausing at the deep end while standing on the resting step. We circled the pool three or four times. She had me float vertically supported by swim noodles, learning to relax, while gradually moving into deeper water. She also told me what to do if I suddenly wound up in the water face down, though I didn't practice that.

I didn't do anything yet with my face in the water or submerged, but she said I'll soon be doing those things. I just worked on getting relaxed in the water and general water adjustment. And the warm water really makes a difference. She said that, in only four lessons, she might have me jump into the deep end, working up to it gradually. I couldn't believe it, since I've never been able to do that without tension and fear. This is about the first swimming lesson I have ever had that I actually enjoyed. Her manner was so relaxed and inspiring of confidence. I'm looking forward to more lessons with her. It looks like I might actually have found the right formula for learning to swim!

bud
July 7th, 2009, 07:11 PM
This is a great thread... for people who are in your situation, as well as instructors who are trying to teach them. I hope you will continue to update it from time-to-time so that folks will continue to benefit from it.

The first thing I mention to anyone of any swimming level is:
Can you float on your back with your toes out of the water?

Once you can accomplish this you are well on your way to having a well balanced stroke... and IMHO good balance is one of the most important aspects of good swimming. (Most people, especially those without natural buoyancy, can only do this with their arms straight out "over your head" [but still in the water].)

Sounds like you finally got an instructor that will work for you (and a facility as well). They are spot-on with getting you able to float first... with confidence. Once you learn that you will always be able to stop and rest in any depth you can't stand in... whenever you need to. Once you get your confidence up, I believe the rest will be easy.

As you've pointed out, once you get motoring in the water the temperature will become less of an issue... which will make it easier to find facilities to practice in. It is fun to just float around and goof-off though... I do it all the time... I just simply enjoy the comfort of being in a near zero-g environment... especially a liquid one. We live on a "water planet", and we are made up mostly of water... it makes perfect sense to me to be able to take pleasure in that.
;)

orca1946
July 7th, 2009, 07:14 PM
Always blow air out of your NOSE to keep water out . This will help all who fear the water . Good for you , keep trying. It gets better & more fun.

FridayGrrl
July 7th, 2009, 11:05 PM
Good luck to you, it sounds like things are progressing. If you are still having any problems, I would second the recommendation made by an earlier poster about Miracle Swimming. I know the founder of that company and am very familiar with her methodology. It sounds like she would be a perfect fit. She has also written a book. Her website is: www.conquerfear.com

Beginnerat63
July 12th, 2009, 04:59 PM
Thanks for the replies. During my second lesson, July 9, I again practiced the back float in the shallow end and moving around the pool hanging onto the gutter. I later practiced moving along the wall while holding onto a lifeguard buoy, accompanied by the instructor, who had me move progressively into deeper water, a few feet at time. At times she encouraged me to move a few inches away from the wall while doing this, but barely within reach of the edge.

I started practicing breathing out with my face in the water in the shallow end while holding onto the edge. I wore goggles, but had trouble with them since they leaked water.

I do NOT like the sensation of my face being in the water, especially water going in my nose. I continuously breathed out both nose and mouth while doing this, but still seemed to be getting water in my nose.

I tried breathing out as slowly as possible, remaining as relaxed as I could, but still felt uncomfortable--breathing out more slowly just allowed more water to get into my nose. If I inhaled more air before breathing out underwater, I quickly became breathless and nervous. I have to breathe out so forcefully to get my air out underwater. How can I breathe out below the surface while feeling both comfortable and relaxed? I see it's going to take a long time to learn this.

I spent two hours practicing since the last lesson. I tried doing some things the instructor hasn't taught me yet, but quickly ran into trouble and started to panic. I'm finding I am having trouble doing the same things I had trouble with years ago. I did swim a length in a shallow pool using the elementary backstroke, but even that was hard because I was out of shape. I carefully tried floating on my back in deep water--it wasn't as hard as I thought. I am trying to be as totally relaxed as I can whenever I'm in deep water.

Next lesson, my instructor assures me, I will spend most of the time in the deep end, and the final lesson I will be doing certain special things she hasn't described.

I can't float on my back with my toes out of the water--my legs tend to sink and I have to extend my arms straight to get them back up. I try to relax as much as possible, to keep my butt up, and to lengthen my float time as much as possible while remaining relaxed.

Problem: the whip kick I used doing the elementary backstroke has caused lateral knee pain--the return of ilio-tibial band inflammation I had once before. An ordinary crawl kick wouldn't cause this problem. I may have to have physical therapy to alleviate the pain.

Big problem: I now have swimmer's ear again in the left ear, the return of a problem which caused me to stop swimming years ago, despite the fact I was using a molded ear plug while in the water and was using a solution of alcohol and vinegar in the ears post swimming. To prevent this, the ear must be kept perfectly dry while in the water--putting a solution in the ear does not work. If an answer for this problem isn't found, I'll have no choice but to quit swimming. What can I do about this?

Re: Enrolling in a Miracle Swimming class with Melon Dash. I have read her book and find it terrific, but I want to try going local first to avoid the expense of the class and the necessity of having to travel--which I really don't want to do--but I still have it in the back of my mind as a final alternative.

guppy
July 12th, 2009, 08:12 PM
When I was a kid before learning to swim I was taught to do prone floats with my face in the water for increasing lengths of time to get used to it. Do you think that would work for you? Have you tried using nose plugs to keep the water out?

I've used the same pair of Barracuda earplugs for a couple of years and have not had a problem with water getting in.

Best of luck to you!

ViveBene
July 12th, 2009, 08:38 PM
An audiologist can make custom ear plugs, and perhaps suggest a second layer of protection.

Mr. Furious
July 13th, 2009, 10:39 PM
Do you really want to learn to swim, or do you just want the attention from people who sincerely want to help?

I have read your posts. You ignore most of the very good advice and obsess on your own perceptions and frailties. This last one takes the cake. Now you need physical therapy because you strained your knee? Swimmer's ear? Please.

Do you have a counselor or priest that you can confide in? If not, please find one. The water is not the problem. It has no ill will toward you, nor do you need 90 degree shallow water. If you don't like getting your face wet, how do you bathe? Or shower? If this is a hoax, it is a very intricate one. If not, swimming is the smallest of problems for you to overcome.

If you are asking for help or advice here, please heed what is posted and respond to them as to why you ignore what they say or worse, argue with them. You continue to make excuses for not doing something that is very simple, as if trying to convince yourself that it is o.k. to bail out before even making an attempt.

Water is not the basis of your fears, fear of trying is. All fear is irrational. As Yoda said, "there is no try, there is only do or not do." What will it be?

jackieg
July 14th, 2009, 12:08 PM
It is very brave of you to keep trying, and to keep sharing your experience even though some might judge you for it. The first moment that you realize you are in the deep end and aren't afraid will be worth all of this effort.

I have always had a severe fear of deep water - one that kept me out of the deep end until I was 21. I was so tired of missing out that I made the decision to fully face my fear - by seeing a therapist who specialized in phobias. 6 years later, I swim with a masters club 5 times a week and regularly compete in open water. The most amazing moments involve looking around in the middle of a large glistening body of water and reflecting on the fact that I have no idea how deep the water is, and that I'm not afraid.

You can definitely get there. The two most valuable things I learned from the therapist I saw were as follows. First, it is very hard to face a fear if deep down, you think the fear is right. If you think, on any level, that water really is dangerous and that all you want to do is somehow avoid thinking about it, it is going to be very hard to make progress. Try to start thinking of your swimming lessons as a way to remove the dangers of the water, not a way to distract you from them. You can be a strong swimmer, and the deep end of a pool can be a completely safe environment for you. The fear is something you have constructed, and you can deconstruct it.

Second, overcoming a fear is very very difficult. It takes time. Getting frustrated with yourself compounds the negative associations you will have with the water, making progress harder. Instead of getting frustrated that you can't make tremendous progress in one session, be very proud of yourself for each and every small step you can take. Every time you get into the pool, you should be proud of yourself. This process feels hard because it is hard. Keep at it, and you will get there.

Resolving to fully face my fear, and swallowing my pride long enough to find a therapist, was one of the best things I've ever done for myself. I wish you the best of luck in this process.

Don't be frustrated - be proud.

bud
July 16th, 2009, 09:52 PM
...Don't be frustrated - be proud.
Excellent post... how true. (And I'm impressed that you list OW as your favorite event!)

Yep... the only thing worse than not reaching the goals you set is not even trying for them.

I'm reminded of the scene in "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest" where McMurphy claims he will escape by pulling up a plumbing fixture (a sink of sorts) and hurl it through the window... he fails and they all are staring at him wide-eyed... he glares at them and exclaims, "Well, at least I tried!" (Of course in the end, this is how "Chief" makes his escape.)

Beginnerat63
July 18th, 2009, 11:07 PM
My physical problems have completely resolved and I am continuing on with instuction. This week I worked on back floating in the shallow and in the deep, relaxing as much as possible, spending more time in deep water, bobbing at the wall, and standing up from a back and a front float position,
and even swimming across the pool in supine position in deep water.

Relaxation and breath control are proving to be the most difficult skills to learn. I will continue with my present instructor. Imagine, swimming in deep water in only four lessons.

Beginnerat63
August 7th, 2009, 10:27 AM
Yesterday, August 6, I completed my eleventh lesson, a total of ten hours of instruction. Unfortunately, my instructor is leaving to get ready to go to college in the fall, no one at (file://\\at) the YMCA where I have been taking lessons is available to take over and the facility itself is closing at the end of the month.

In that time I have learned the folllowing:

--Floating on back in shallow water
--Floating on back in deep water
--Floating on front in shallow water
--Floating on front in deep water
--Standing up in shallow water from either face-down or face-up position
--Moving around periphery of pool holding onto edge
--Elementary back-stroke in shallow, then deep water, progressing from swimming across pool in shallow water to swimming across in deep water to, finally, swimming lengths, first along side, then down the middle.
--Treading water in deep end
--Rhythmic breathing at side of pool
--Bobbing at edge from shallow to deep, pushing myself down as far as I can go
--Swimming on back in deep water, then repeatedly going into vertical to tread water, then resuming swimming until having swum entire length
--Stepping off resting step in deep end to plunge into water
--Swimming on front across pool while holding breath
--Swimming across pool in shallow doing the breast stroke
--Turning around in deep while treading water

I spent much time in each lesson working in the deep end and my fear of deep water has gradually lessened, I am happy to report. I am gradually learning the skills of swimming, though it is a slow process. Learning breathing has been the hardest skill to master, but it is coming. I am learning to relax in the water and, the more I do, the easier swimming becomes. Learning relaxation wasn't as hard as I thought it would be. Floating in deep water has turned out to be no different than floating in shallow water.

I am so grateful to my wonderful instructor, who has been patient and supportive all the way. I have started to learn a face-down stroke (breast stroke), something I thought I might not be able to do.
My instructor had me learn that because I had so much trouble learning rotational breathing, required for freestyle. She has never had me do anything I wasn't ready to do.

Swimming is indeed getting easier and more fun. There is nothing like a little success to serve as a motivator. I really want to continue taking as much instruction as I can until get really good at this. Thanks to all for the helpful comments.