Dripping with Dread: Overcoming your aquatic aversion
Sometimes one person’s nirvana is another’s purgatory. The pool is one of those places.
Few recreational sports divide would-be participants into two distinct groups like swimming.
On one hand, you have the lovers, those who crave the wet embrace of the pool, lake or open sea, those who find relaxation in a gentle front crawl or breast stroke, ticking out the lengths with ease. Its in their genes.
On the other hand, you have the haters. Those who fear the water, who likely did not swim as children and for whom even the scent of chorine brings on thoughts of suffering a painful watery death.
Rarely do you find people who are truly indifferent about swimming.
Yet, swimming is one of the few sports that is truly easy on the body. While you will rarely find a woman who is eight months pregnant running, you will frequently find her at the pool. Likewise for the elderly or those dealing with chronic illness and pain.
If we are going to stay healthy and active throughout our lives – and that should be our goal – we should all learn to swim.
But what of the haters, those who want to run in fear when the depth of the water goes beyond three feet?
Here’s my advice to anyone brave enough to learn:
You are not alone. You can take solace in the fact that you are not the first person who has ever learned to swim. You are one of the few who is brave enough to face your fear.
Accept where you are at and start from there. If putting your face in the water is a challenge, so be it. There are few times in our adult lives that we are able to go back to basics, learn simple tasks an make rapid progress. If you need to start by blowing bubbles in the bathtub, embrace it.
Get a lesson. Finding a teacher that has experience teaching adults to swim is invaluable. Do not accept free lessons from friends or family members. That will just end in tears. Experienced coach required.
Floaties are not just for kids. Learning to swim as a way to keep active, do your first triathlon or stay alive if the boat goes down is an honourable task. Do not let anyone tell you otherwise. And do not be ashamed to wear arm bands, use kick boards or anything else to keep you afloat.
Set a goal. Your goal might be to swim a length, 100 lengths or do a 10km swim race. Whatever it is, make sure it is challenging and stick with it.
Anyone who has lived with chronic pain will tell you that water has magical powers. It can be a place where the strain of weight bearing is alleviated and we can keep moving when our bodies want us to stop.
You will never regret taking the plunge into swimming’s watery utopia.