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Adult wanting to learn to swim - help please?

  • 07-06-2019 7:27pm
    Registered Users Posts: 69 ✭✭

    Hello all,

    I’m mid 40s and have never learnt to swim.

    As a kid we lived an hour from the nearest pool and my folks didn’t have a car or any spare money for lessons. As a teenager I managed to get on a school summer kayak thing and fell out and nearly drowned which freaked me out quite a bit.

    I tried learning to swim in my 20s and made some progress, I was able to do the back stroke thing but could not get out of the position or turn around as I completely freak out if my head goes under water. The lady teaching me made me jump into deep end at one stage and I was supposed to grab a pole she was holding and missed it and again I got such a fright that was the end of that again.

    It doesn’t bother me hugely except for the odd time I’m away on holidays and I see people so at ease in the pool or sea and I wish I could even do a few granny strokes! It’s hard as anything else in life I really don’t hold back from but this fear has me gripped and very freaked out.

    So anyways are there any adults who have learnt to swim from scratch on here? I don’t know anyone, only people who could swim and did lessons to improve techniques for triathlons and stuff like that...

    I am looking for some hope!

    And also any recommendations on teachers in Dublin who are experienced and good with scared adult learners?

    Maybe I need to read one of those hypnotist phobia books or something too!

    Anyways would love to hear from anyone who was maybe in a similar situation.

    Thank you



  • Registered Users Posts: 74 ✭✭Lujan

    While i wasn't in the same boat as you per say, I was late learning to swim
    The National Aquatic Centre in blanchardstown is excellent. I took swimming lessons there a few years ago and can't recommend it enough

  • Registered Users Posts: 69 ✭✭BettyBoo2011

    Lujan wrote: »
    While i wasn't in the same boat as you per say, I was late learning to swim
    The National Aquatic Centre in blanchardstown is excellent. I took swimming lessons there a few years ago and can't recommend it enough

    Thank you very much, will check it out.

    What instructor did you have if you don’t mind and how did you find it?

    Thanks again

  • Registered Users Posts: 680 ✭✭✭davegilly

    I learnt to swim when I was 40, now 44. I have a perforated eardrum so can't get water in my ear so was never able to learn. When I had kids it really bothered me that I couldn't get into water with them and swim so I decided to try and learn.

    I thought myself along with some help on YouTube. I had to learn with my head above the water so it took a while and a lot of effort but j managed it. After a few months I could swim a full length of the pool, very slowly mind and not very gracefully :) However once I had managed to keep myself afloat then trying to perfect the stroke was the next hurdle. YouTube was my teacher here and I learnt the breaststroke and freestyle. I found some earplugs as well which allow me to put my head under the water now as well and I can now swim 30 or 40 lengths handy enough.

    I'll never win a race but the fact I can now go on holidays and hop into the pool with the kids is a godsend. It's never too late to learn, if I can manage to teach myself then you can learn with some help from a coach. Best of luck

  • Registered Users Posts: 43 LittleWhiteDog

    I learned to swim in my early twenties. I was terrified after a bad experience as a child. I had a float & armbands I was so afraid.

    The teacher I learned with was with us in the water & I honestly don't think I would have gotten over my fear if it wasn't for this. I would highly recommend going for one-to-one lessons with a swimming coach who gets into the water with you. I know at least four others who learned as adults in the same way.

    Where are you based? Most pools will offer one to one lessons nowadays. I'm sure someone will be able to recommend a pool near you.

  • Registered Users Posts: 6,613 ✭✭✭Glebee

    Im in the same boat as the op. Mid 40s and have never learnt to swim. Some thing ive said id do and have finally decided to try. have done about 5 group lessons but am really struggling with getting my arms moving. Can kick off and get a good distance out into the pool just from kicking but when I go to use my arms it all goes pear shaped. So far the group lesson have been great but it can depend on what instructor you get as some are better than other. Should I try to get a few private lessons as this arm movement thing is really bugging me????

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  • Registered Users Posts: 687 ✭✭✭reg114

    Any of the municipal pools around the country would have adult swimming classes. For those with ear issues, Id strongly recommend earplugs.

  • Registered Users Posts: 3,205 ✭✭✭cruizer101

    Lots of people get lessons as adults, I only learned myself at 21.
    What i would say though is if you have big fear of even putting your face in water maybe try to over come that a bit before lessons.
    Just go to a pool get in the shallow end and get yourself comfortable in the water.
    Try putting your face in the water, try bend your knees and dip down under the water, initially just for a second but then try extend it and bob down a bit deeper and try breathing out a bit under water. The whole time you can just stand back up again so you just want to build your confidence a bit with being in and under the water.
    Also try floating a bit on your back and also on front, maybe try hanging on to the side initially or with a float.

    Lessons are worth it but a lot of it is just getting more confident in the water yourself which you kind of have to do a bit in your own time.

  • Registered Users Posts: 478 ✭✭anthony500_1

    Was 30 when I decided it was time to face my fears. Was so afraid I wouldn't even get into a pool in 2012. Started learning in a group. All beginners and pretty much all in the 30 to 50s age group. It was frightfully slow going for myself And one other man. But we stuck at it. By the end of 10 lessons and prob 3 times a week on my own I could swim the 25m pool without stopping. It's little steps at the start I won't lie. .fast forward about a year and 30 lessons and something just clicked. Within a few weeks I went from doing 10 lenghts and having to stop to 60 lenghts at my ease.

    If I can give any advice is if you can dedicate 2/3 times a week to go swimming and a lesson on top of that it will pay off. Focus on perfecting your technic and breathing rather then distance and it will eventually click. Don't compare yourself to anyone else and just enjoy it.

  • Registered Users Posts: 680 ✭✭✭davegilly

    reg114 wrote: »
    For those with ear issues, Id strongly recommend earplugs.

    I use these - - they create a watertight seal and work perfectly.

  • Registered Users Posts: 285 ✭✭CraftySue

    I learnt to swim in my late 20's, my mother learnt in her late 40's. Both of us had serious water phobias. Alot of hotels with pools who do kids lessons will also do 1:1 adult lessons. My main advice when you get the lessons is to practice yourself 2-3 times a week if possible. Learning to swim takes time, and the more practice you put in will help you reach each milestone quicker.

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  • Registered Users Posts: 7,854 ✭✭✭munchkin_utd

    I know the thread is sitting here a while, but if you ignore the time lost to corona, its only a few months old!! But its a similar situation to myself, thanks to also being a good hour from a pool as a child, and having parents who couldnt swim (well, my dad sortof could but never got lessons so was not exactly a good instructor) and I did years of lessons in a standard cold irish lake with lethal bog holes just to the side to keep you on your toes, but it just never clicked.

    A post above here says basically "go ahead and float", as if its something we can do without any effort or trying, like mozart just sat down at a piano and started playing, or George Best with his dribbing the ball - but for me thats not the case. I once hopped into water, with a wetsuit, as chilled as can be (i was promised by the guide there was no way I could possibly sink) and I sank.

    I watched a youtube video by the local swim authorities on how to learn how to swim and they were the same, you should just float, like its something you turn on at the flick of a switch, no hints on how this is to be achieved, and then piled on to explain the strokes, which for me would be very much underwater ones without that floaty trick beforehand.

    I've even had people tell me, sure if you cant swim then just tread water!!!

    So basically I just am wondering if anyone who has learnt as an adult had the feeling beforehand that they just arent meant to float, you are born as a stone, and how was the progression from "this can never work" to actually floating and eventually swimming????

  • Registered Users Posts: 16 DeirdreMalone

    We came back to Ireland after COVID and me and my partner (43 and 46 years) started with swimming lessons for adults. You won't get any better by watching youtube videos, trust me :) If you in the Dublin South area I highly recommend Swimcamp ... Friends recommended them and we are in our third week improving my front crawl.

    I'm now swimming (not dipping) regularly at high tides in Sandycove.

  • Registered Users Posts: 89 ✭✭tobottherobot

    Hi OP. I’m in a similar boat to you - I near drowned twice when I was younger and just never felt comfortable in the water because of it. When I turned 32 I decided to learn… I got 10 lessons and they really helped with the technique and I could get around a pool no problem.

    But the mental effects of near drowning are still there and if I get any way uncomfortable, I tense up which causes me to get tired. For example, treading water out of my depth with nothing nearby to grab is still out of the question for me. But I find the more I swam, the more that fear disappears and I even managed to get a triathlon in too (albeit a small one).

    I think hypnosis or some therapy could be a big help… I didn’t do it for swimming but have done it in the past and can totally why it would be beneficial.

    Good luck!