This weekend I had the great pleasure of teaching an adult swimming lesson to a doctor with fear and anxiety of being in the water. This is by far my favorite type of client and lesson to teach, for several reasons. First, it’s a challenge that must be handled with loving care and I’m the perfect person for the job, and second, I know the end result is going to be miraculous!
We advertise on our adult lessons page that we can teach you how to swim in just under a handful of lessons by breaking it down to four aspects. The most important swimming skills are: Breathing, Balance, Kicking and Pulling.
For a person with a deathly fear of the water, the process of learning these skills is no different from any other person, and in fact, by teaching swimming in this manner, the path to success is shortened dramatically.
Adult Swimming Lessons – The Process
In this lesson, I spent the first 15 minutes teaching her how to blow bubbles with her nose, by humming her favorite song, breathing in through her mouth above water, and how to get into a meditative state by bobbing, which by slowing her heart-rate, decreases her anxiety. Sometimes, I have to use life-coaching techniques to help my clients to become present with me.
Next, I had her continue breathing in this pattern while holding onto the steps and starting to move her legs and feet, just to get a feel for what it’s like to be in motion in the water, with support. We work on technique and ankle flexibility later. To move her legs, she must be in a prone position. Now we’re getting to the balancing part, and by giving her something to think about, moving and breathing at the same time, she’s now slightly distracted that she’s doing something she’s afraid of – letting go and letting the water support her.
We take short breaks between activities as necessary. It is not a quick and easy process to face fears. Sometimes I start with floating without kicking, it just really depends on the spirit of the lesson.
While kicking and holding on to the steps, or wall, I can now have her quickly let go for a blink-of-an-eye moment and quickly return to holding on. “Wait! What! Oh, wow, did you feel that?!” “How did that feel?” A smile comes across her face. We repeat that with increasing the number of blinks per moment. She still has not gone completely under water. So I had her physically force herself to try to submerge. For this lady, her response was, “I can’t, it is impossible.” And that’s when I had her. The more force you exert on the water, the more force the water is going to exert on you. This pushes you up and keeps you afloat. Ideally, it raises your hips to the surface. This works best when your muscles are relaxed.
Having eliminated the fear and the reason for the fear, we started with kicking, balanced on the water while breathing through the nose. I hold her hands the entire time until she’s ready to let go.
In only 45 minutes she proceeded to doing a competitive swimming drill taught by my University of Texas swim camp and former Stanford women’s head coach, the late Coach Richard Quick. In just one lesson, she went from having intense fear of being in the water, to breathing, balancing, and kicking 25 yards across the pool, with the biggest smile you’ve ever seen.
We did that multiple times, and started practicing side-breathing.
During this process, I incorporated many positive life-coaching high-fives with “I did it!”s. It doesn’t just work for kids! You can read more about that in our blog on effective praise.
How do we teach adults to learn to swim in just 4 lessons?
1. At One with the Water, we are swimming experts. We teach the best and most efficient approach to the most pertinent skills of swimming: Breathing, Balance, Kicking and Pulling. We break it down to simple achievable goals to help everyone succeed.
2. We get to know you as a person – your fears and your strengths. Instead of wasting time on building your weaknesses, we work with your strengths to achieve your goals quickly.
3. We make you feel comfortable and secure. We are certified and accredited coaches with 10,000 plus hours of experience. You are safe with us.
If you have a passion for seeing others conquer their fear, we want you on our team! If you have already experienced the freedom of learning to swim, consider donating to our foundation. (Learn more about our Mission). Partner with us today to teach economically disadvantaged children, special needs children, and Service-Disabled Veterans to become One with the Water! We know you want to be compassionate, involved members of your community. When you donate to One with the Water, you create real and lasting change in the lives of our swimmers. They are confident, courageous, successful, and safe, thanks to you!