If you feel anxious, scared or nervous around water, you’re not alone. Many adults struggle to get comfortable in the pool (especially in deep water), but we’re here to help! If you’re comfortable standing in shallow water, try these five tips to quell your panic and start building a positive relationship with the water.
Before you hit the pool, try visualizing what a positive swimming experience would look like for you.
Walk through every step of the process. Arriving at the pool, getting in, having fun, and leaving the pool safe and happy. How does it feel? While it may seem like a small thing, visualizing can play a big role in breaking free of your negative thought patterns.
2. Stop Negative Self Talk
If you get a rush of nerves when you walk out on the pool deck, they can often manifest in negative self talk. Maybe you feel intimidated by other swimmers, you feel like everyone is staring at you in your swimsuit, or you think something bad will happen to you in the water.
Related: 10 Beginner Swim Tips for Adults
Remember that everyone is doing their own thing, and they likely aren’t paying much attention to you. Every experienced swimmer started where you are. So don’t worry too much! You are doing your best with where you’re at, and that’s what counts!
3. Ease into the Water
When you’re ready to try getting into the water, start small! Begin by standing on the first step or sitting on the side of the pool with just your feet in the water.
Maybe practice some deep breathing to calm your body down. As you get more comfortable over the next few days or weeks, increase the depth of the water until you are standing in water that’s shoulder depth.
Always make sure there’s a lifeguard on duty when you get in the water…safety first!
4. Learn to Float on Your Back
A lot of people are afraid of sinking to the bottom, and the best way to combat that is to learn to float!
Get comfortable floating on your back and stomach – practice in shallow water near the wall, so you can easily stand and take a break if needed. Check out our floating tutorial video for step-by-step instructions!
5. Dunk Your Head
If you are nervous about putting your face in the water, practice at the wall!
Find a spot next to the wall in the shallow end of the pool. You should be able to stand here. Hold onto the wall with both hands, and dip your face in the water for one second. As you get more comfortable holding your breath, you can increase the time.
When you’re really comfortable, try blowing bubbles underwater!
Remember that feeling comfortable, safe, and confident in the water will take time. It might take you a couple swims, or hundreds, to get to the point where you feel like you know what you are doing when you show up to the pool. If you need extra support, consider talking to a therapist about your concerns or hiring a swimming instructor for one-on-one assistance.
To learn more about what happens to your brain when you swim, watch this helpful video: