“MARCH” FORWARD AND CONQUER YOUR FEAR OF WATER
Two-thirds of Americans are afraid of deep, open bodies of water and 46% are afraid of the deep-end of a pool. 37% of Americans are unable to swim, and almost 4000 people a year in the United States die of drowning. Knowing how to swim (and equally important, knowing how to prevent panic in the water) are unquestionably life-saving skills, but if most swim lessons begin with “Get in the pool” those afraid of that first step will avoid lessons entirely. Those who enter the pool afraid are often prone to panic at some point in their learning and never go back. Studies show that most children of non swimmers don’t get enough practice to become competent swimmers themselves, perpetuating the cycle. How can we help the millions of fearful swimmers learn to enjoy the water safely?
We must address the fear first.
Anyone who enters the pool feeling overwhelmed by fear of embarrassment, failing or being out of control, or who goes into flight/fight mode, will have a terribly hard time listening and learning over their pounding heart and racing thoughts. We train swim instructors on how fear and anxiety affect students physically and emotionally, and how to de-escalate the fear and regain control.
1) Start the lesson outside the pool and establish trust. Very often anxious students are told “There’s nothing to be afraid of.” But they are afraid. So anyone who says this immediately loses credibility. Taking the student’s concerns seriously before they enter the water makes them feel more safe and able to learn.
2) Demystifying the water, explaining the properties of buoyancy, what happens when we’re in it and it goes into our ears or nose, or washes overhead.
3) Practicing relaxation techniques like breathing and visualization outside the water first so they become easily accessible if needed in the pool.
4) Going slow and accepting that it may be an emotional process, but keeping the goal clear: competence in the deep end. While many believe fear of water is simply too hard to overcome, that isn’t true. MARCH FORWARD & LEARN
Even more than learning strokes, learning to cope with fear and maintaining ease in the water is what prevents drowning. Teaching people what to do when they feel fear is about the most empowering antidote. So we strive to UNDERSTAND, TEACH, and MOTIVATE our swim school students. If YOU need help or know someone who needs help learning to swim, come in and chat with us about how we can help you along the process.
“ MARCH” FORWARD!