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Thread: Trouble learning to swim

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Mar 2020

    Trouble learning to swim

    I'm in my 50's and have been struggling to learn to swim. I have had two private coaches and I spend a lot of time training.
    It appears I can not relax causing breathing problems and tense muscles.

    How is this fixed?? My wife says I'm afraid of the water even though I can train for an hour.
    Any suggestions??

  2. #2
    Very Active Member ForceDJ's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2007
    Portsmouth, RI

    Re: Trouble learning to swim

    Weird question but are you wearing goggles?


  3. #3
    Very Active Member
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Pittsburgh, PA

    Re: Trouble learning to swim

    For the most part, we can only guess here.

    How often do you train for an hour?

    For a 50-something non-swimmer, I'd recommend 25 minutes, as easy as possible, 3 times a week.

    Then after 6 weeks or so, you could gradually work up to more.

    When I first trained to do a 2.25 mile open swim (in my 50's), for the first month or so, when I went into the water, I used a mantra-like phrase for each stroke. The phrase was "Relax."

    Do your coaches have experience with adult beginners? If they are used to training athletic 20-somethings, who have competitive swim experience, they might not be right for you.

  4. #4
    Very Active Member
    Join Date
    Aug 2018

    Re: Trouble learning to swim

    I was at a swim clinic where they recommended practicing, of all things, bobbing in shallow water. Breathe out as you go under, breathe in when you come up - don't hold your breath, just breathe in rhythm with going under and coming up.

    Exercises used by singers for breathing my also help you focus on the muscles used in breathing, the process, and being able to take deep, full breaths and exhale quickly and automatically.

  5. #5
    Participating Member
    Join Date
    Nov 2014

    Re: Trouble learning to swim

    Hey there! Question, in your lessons are you doing mostly front crawl (freestyle)? If breathing is the issue, you might have some luck giving breaststroke a try...kind of an unconventional approach (its usually taught as a more advanced stroke because its tough to get the timing right), but after starting with that as an adult beginner myself 10 years ago, and having taught a couple other adult beginners since who have issues with breathing, it might be worth a shot! (And Ive actually had success working backstroke progressions first with another adult beginner who had breathing issues to built up water comfort/stamina!).
    If freestyle is where you want to be, though, Id try and pay attention to how much youre breathing out...make sure youre pushing all that CO2 out each cycle (which is what bobs are designed to help you practice) - usually if youre feeling the panicked/I cant breathe feeling its because youre storing up too much CO2, not lacking oxygen...

    Good luck!

  6. #6

    Re: Trouble learning to swim

    To me this is the number one way to relax in the water. Be sure to tell the lifeguard before doing this.

    Simply allow yourself to rest on the bottom of the pool and relax.

    I've been swimming (non-masters/competitive) my whole life and thought I was relaxed in the water. I wasn't. I should probably return to this exercise often. The is the quickest way from A to B, IMHO.

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  7. #7
    "Don't float through life orca1946's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2006
    Hampshire, il - U S A

    Re: Trouble learning to swim

    I taught a vet. and the 1st thing I had him learn is to "BOB" face in the water and blow out thru the Nose and take air in with face out. It is amazing to me that more people do not do this to start!

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Mar 2020
    Boulder, Colorado

    Re: Trouble learning to swim

    Hello Heliops, I hope this message finds you well.

    As a swim instructor myself, I keep seeing the same word in every reply that everyone has posted, "training". first, I do not think that you should be "training" i do believe that at this stage, you need a coach, not a trainer. I think that who ever is "training" you do not see the bigger picture or they do not know how to assets you. I do not think that it has anything to do with your breathing, but that is an extremely easy fix. Breathing is a pattern, not a skill which is incorporated into swimming. You do not swim to breath, you should be swimming and breathing while you are swimming. I have been an private instructor for more than 15 years, I am currently a swim a coach, I swam for Team USA for the National Team, I am personal trainer, and nutrition specialist. I do take a lot of pride in teaching and coaching people how to swim, please feel free to get back to me, i would really love to help, and i do believe i can help you.

    In terms of you tense breathing, its you inter-coastal, scalenes muscles among many others groups of muscles that are tight, making you breath from you rib cage (breathing Upwards), instead of your diaphragm (breathing Outwards). Its the Human Movement System. I do not know what you look like in the water and its IMPOSSIBLE for me to say what you really need.

    I hope this helps in some way, and if this sounds aggressive, then my apologies. but after reading this

    again feel free to get back to me so we can figure this out, and get some videos going.

    cheers, stay safe

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