As weird as it may seem, I actually have a few mates who still don’t know how to swim. We are not talking about kids or teenagers here, but full-grown men and women. Most of them decided not to bother with swimming lessons simply because they are too embarrassed.
The truth is there is nothing to be embarrassed about – swimming is like any other skill: it takes time and practice to make it work. If you are considering learning how to swim, I recommend signing up for a course, but if you are unable, or simply don’t want to go through that, here are a few tips to get you started.
First thing’s first – you don’t need fancy goggles or a swim cap – you are learning how to swim, not training to race Michael Phelps. However, you may need a few things to help you along the way. Think of them as Dumbo’s feather, or a safety blanket – before you know it, you will be able to swim without them.
Floaters and Swimmies
Call them whatever you want, but essentially they are swimming aids that always float due to the air inside them. Having a set around will always keep you afloat, so there is no risk of drowning.
Goggles, Masks, and Snorkels
While I was learning how to swim, I found several things to be annoying and disorienting – mainly not being able to breathe or see. My instructor would give me instructions on how to breathe properly with a swimming technique, but I would soon be coughing up water with blurry vision, not knowing where I was. Wearing a mask and a snorkel, or even just a pair of goggles, will grant you perfect vision of your surroundings, putting you at ease.
Remember, the water is not out to get you. Stick to the shallow end of the pool until you are convinced you can move comfortably around. You don’t need to prove anything by diving, try swimming around in an environment where you can touch the bottom of the pool whenever you lose your pace.
There are several exercises you can put yourself through in order to master your relationship with water. Try fetching pebbles from the bottom of the pool (the shallow end, of course), hold your breath underwater, practice coming up for air, and get used to looking around under the surface. It will be blurry and confusing, but you will get the idea of what’s around you.
There are plenty more exercises you can try, but these few will be enough to get you started. Again, if you are serious about mastering this skill, nothing beats working with a professional.