7 Tips for Overcoming a Fear of Swimming

fear of swimming

Did you know that over fourteen million people suffer from an extreme fear of water? If the idea of swimming scares you, then know that you aren’t alone. However, staying away from water your entire life can cause you to miss out on valuable experiences. It doesn’t always have to be this way.

There are ways that you can get over your fears and become a confident swimmer. If you want to overcome your fear of swimming, then you might be wondering where to begin. Luckily, in this article, we’ll be giving you some tips on how to get in the water. That way, you can start enjoying swimming activities instead of avoiding them. Let’s get started!

Seven Tips For Getting Over Your Fear of Swimming

A fear of swimming and water is one of the most common phobias to have. Regardless of whether your fear is based on a past swimming incident, or simply an irrational fear, it’s possible to get over it. All you need to do to get started is to follow these seven tips. 

1) Recontextualize Your Fears

Recontextualizing your fears is often easier said than done. But it’s an important first step to overcoming your fear of the water. It involves listening closely to your internal dialogue, acknowledging it, and restructuring it. For example, let’s say whenever you think of water you get scared because it’s dangerous.

Perhaps you had a scary experience earlier in life that makes you associate the activity with danger. While swimming can be dangerous sometimes, it’s important to remember that it often isn’t. When thinking about this danger, remind yourself of all the time people went swimming and nothing bad happened — especially when performed in a safe environment.

Eventually, you’ll be able to recontextualize your thinking into the idea that swimming can be dangerous, but not when you follow the right practices with a lifeguard present. 

2) Calm Yourself Using Breathing Techniques

A fear of swimming is rooted in anxiety. One of the best ways to deal with an anxiety attack is through deep breathing. When you feel yourself getting scared of the water, relax your shoulders. Then, take a deep breath lasting for four seconds. Hold it in for two seconds and then exhale for four seconds. Repeat for around five minutes, or until you feel your anxiety subsiding. 

3) Visualize Positive Swimming Imagery

Before you begin swimming, it’s important to perform some mental exercises. One great one is to envision yourself swimming confidently and having fun. Lie down and take some deep breaths. Then, picture yourself sitting in a chair by the pool. It’s a beautiful sunny day, other swimmers are laughing, and there’s a lifeguard on duty keeping everyone safe.

Gradually, imagine yourself getting into the water. Think of yourself having fun and playing with others in the water. Performing this exercise in your head, far away from water in a safe place, is a great way to confront your anxiety.

However, if just the thought of water causes you to have a panic attack, then we don’t recommend doing this exercise by yourself. Instead, find a therapist so that you’re in a more controlled environment when you try it. 

4) Get Past Your Feelings of Sinking

Many people who are afraid of swimming aren’t used to the weightless feeling of being in the water. This makes them freak out and think that they’re going to sink. However, it’s important to remember the buoyancy factor when you’re in the water. When you relax your limbs you naturally float to the top of the water. Practicing this will help you overcome any fears of sinking. 

5) Begin in Shallow Water

Make sure you start slow in shallow water. A beach-like pool, or a baby pool, is a great place to begin. Sit at the edge of the pool and dip your feet in the water when you feel bold enough. After a while, you might feel comfortable enough to stand in the water. From here, you can begin walking around the shallow end to get used to how it feels. 

6) Hire a Skilled Swim Coach

If you want to overcome your fear of the water, then you need to learn how to swim. The best way to do this is to hire a personal trainer — preferably one that understands your fear of the water. Not only will a swim coach help you learn swimming techniques, but they’ll also help you build up your confidence in the water.

Make sure your trainer is aware of your fears so they take things slowly and don’t push you too hard. We recommend private swim lessons over public ones so that you can take as much time as you need. 

7) Practice in a Controlled Environment 

Once you’re confident in your swimming abilities, you can begin practicing on your own. Just make sure that this is done in a controlled environment. The perfect place is an area of the pool where you can stand with a lifeguard always present. Make sure that you only graduate to deeper waters when you feel comfortable and ready. 

Interested in Swimming? Join the Wave in Whitefish

We hope this article helped you find some tips to begin overcoming your fear of swimming. Keep in mind, that getting over your fear isn’t a quick and easy process. So, don’t be discouraged if it takes some time to accomplish. You’re also much more likely to succeed if you have a supportive community of swimmers and trainers to help you along the way.

But where do you find this community? If you live near Whitefish, Montana, then look no further than The Wave. In addition to aquatic facilities, we also offer a variety of gym equipment and personal trainers to help you get more comfortable in the water. Become a member to start getting over your fears today.