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Thread: Breaking through mental fears

  1. #1
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    Breaking through mental fears

    I have a new swimmer in my group that is so afraid that she will not put her face in the water, float, kick, ect. She stands and holds on the side of the pool refusing to try anything.

    I have given her 6 hours of private lessons attempting to ease her out of her fear. During our last lesson she had a breakdown and said she was done trying to learn how to swim and would never come back. I talked her into giving me one more chance. But, honestly, I have no idea what else to try with this student to ease her fear.

    Please offer suggestions of how you helped someone overcome fear in the water.Thank you

  2. #2
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    Re: Breaking through mental fears

    Have them hold on to the wall and blow bubbles. When she is good at blowing bubbles, try to have her put her nose in the water, again while holding the wall. Then, when she is good at that, see if she can put her face in the water while holding the wall. When she is good at that, have her take one foot off the floor while putting her face in the water. When she has that, try both feet. Again, always holding on to the wall with two hands. When that works, then have her put her face in and float. When she can hold the wall and float while holding the wall with two hands, get fancy with some flutter kick. If all that works, then it is time to switch the wall for a kickboard!!!... that you hold for her while flutterkicking just where she can stand. When she is good at that, it's time to have her try kicking around where she can stand... by herself!!! Then, it is just a matter of going deeper and deeper with her, but only as far as she is comfortable . It is a long process, but very worthwhile

  3. #3
    Very Active Member FindingMyInnerFish's Avatar
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    Re: Breaking through mental fears

    I wonder if maybe she had a bad experience with swimming or near drowning and that might be what's holding her back. Maybe worth asking, and letting her know you're there for her if she wants to share it but don't pressure her. But do encourage her to talk with someone she trusts about her fears. Maybe ask her what she needs in order to feel safe?

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  4. #4
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    Re: Breaking through mental fears

    I have had a near drowning experience a very long time ago. I remember it as though it happened yesterday. I have vivid pictures in my head of the pool, the pool ladder, my hair floating. Thank God, my sister came on site to save my life. However, I respect the water tremendously but I am not afraid to swim. How about just some relaxing time around the pool without the pressure of learning? Might get her to relax enough to move forward to swimming at a slower pace.

  5. #5
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    Re: Breaking through mental fears

    Teaching a traumatized student is a long slow process. I would talk about what caused the fear. Walk around in the water. Try transferring the holding to a noodle or a barbell or a rescue tube. Explain how different skills will help reduce the fear and increase comfort.
    Success is to get her back in the water even if she doesn't do much else.

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