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5916 Views 13 Replies Latest reply: Nov 13, 2009 9:22 AM by Training4Ironman.com
virtualswim Rookie 3 posts since
Jul 9, 2007
Currently Being Moderated

Feb 11, 2007 6:49 AM

Overcoming Fear Of Water

Does anyone have any experience overcoming the fear of water or working with an athlete who has done so. How did you do it ?

  • adpaso Rookie 2 posts since
    Jul 9, 2007
    Currently Being Moderated
    1. Feb 20, 2007 5:09 AM (in response to virtualswim)
    Re: Overcoming Fear Of Water

    Hey Virtualswim! 

    Glad you asked the questions.  I have this little book of "things to do before I die" in my head and learning how to swim was one of them.  Unfortunately, the swim lessons I took as a child were not very successful because as soon as the water hit my chin I started getting very nervous.  So, I stopped going.  Now, don't get me wrong, I was able to jump into water...it's just that I had to get to the side of the pool right away and then hold on to the side.  There was NO treading water.  With that said, I decided that triathlons would be a good way for forcing me to deal with this issue and I started learning from others about how to go about it including those on message boards like this.  The over-whelming response was that it is NOT too late to learn how to swim and overcome my fears and that a great way to start is by taking a Total Immersion weekend course.  I read the book by Terry Laughlin and started doing the drills.  Unfortunately, in hind-sight I was not doing all of them properly.  So, I wrote the author (he loves to hear from people just like you and I) and to my surprise, he wrote back in less than an hour!  Not only did he confirm that his method could help me but that one of the best coaches in the country, Mike Daley teaches about 2 miles from my house.  I went to the weekend clinic about a month later and can tell you it is the best money ever spent.  Not only did I learn how to do the drills effectively, I met some new friends.  We all started going to Masters practices early in the morning to continue our swim drilling.  Because I am a sinker and scared, it took me quite a while to gain the confidence needed to go 100 yards.  I'm still not over my fears by any means but I deal with them a lot better now!  It will be 2 years since I first jumped into water with the intent to learn how to swim.  I'm proud to say that with a lot of "want to" attitude, a great coach, friends and a belief that I can, I completed IronMan Wisconsin this past year....and the swim was the easiest part!!!

  • Fabio415@yahoo.com Rookie 1 posts since
    Jul 9, 2007
    Currently Being Moderated
    2. Feb 20, 2007 1:20 PM (in response to virtualswim)
    Re: Overcoming Fear Of Water

    The way I did it was by taking a SCUBA diver course initially. Subsequently spent as much time in the water as possible always with a buddy when SCUBA diving and in a controlled environment when just swimming. Hope this helps.

  • trilady Rookie 2 posts since
    Jul 9, 2007
    Currently Being Moderated
    3. Feb 20, 2007 7:50 PM (in response to virtualswim)
    Re: Overcoming Fear Of Water

    Hi,

    I have found coaching adults fearful in the water to be a most exciting and rewarding experience. From the total non-swimmer to the advanced swimmer that only panics in open water, no two people have been alike. Yet the very thing that connects them and their success in overcoming their fears has been learning how to be in control, in their body, in the water, 100% of the time. After working with fearful swimmers guiding them to discover their own subtle physiological clues to recognizing what, when and how they start to panic, then they can learn to stay in control.  Melon Dash is the expert in this field.  I attended a one day "Miracle Swimming" workshop with a fearful swimmer I was coaching and saw dramatic results in all the participants. Find out more about her methods and classes at www.conquerfear.com   I wish I could afford her instructor training.  That one day workshop, her book and DVD have been powerful tools I use all the time in coaching.

  • car2nwallaby Amateur 21 posts since
    Jul 9, 2007
    Currently Being Moderated
    4. Feb 21, 2007 9:19 PM (in response to virtualswim)
    Re: Overcoming Fear Of Water

    Wait until summer, when it's hot.  Really hot.  There's nothing worse than trying to get into cold water when it's cold out.

     

    Also group sessions work well; you get a combination of competition, peer pressure, and we're-in-it-together-ness.

  • Ironmantomh Rookie 1 posts since
    Jul 9, 2007
    Currently Being Moderated
    5. Feb 24, 2007 5:05 AM (in response to virtualswim)
    Re: Overcoming Fear Of Water

    Hey! Getting comfortable can take awhile. Reading the other suggestions, we are basically saying the same thing. Start easy! Proceed from there. I recall that my first THIRTEEN triathlons were all spent with the head "out of the water" with adjusted breast and side strokes. For my first Ironman in 1990, I realized that this was not practical, and my coach and I spent lots of time doing "systematic desensitization" for my evident overrespect/fear of water (probably due to a bad experience as a child). I spent many, many hours just getting comfortable, then working toward a relaxed crawl stroke. I must applaud Terry Laughlin and others who preach slippage and ease through the water. Otherwise, you are reinforcing horrid technique AND fear simultaneously! A most wicked combo! Just remember that swimming is TOTAL technique, and junk miles in a pool or lake are just that: JUNK! Work your easy technique FIRST. FLOAT, then go from there! Trust this! Watch how the best train. Many many hours and miles of focused technique. Yes, it goes against our "gung-ho" logic centers, though it is eminently efficient. Good luck!

  • EconKid Rookie 3 posts since
    Jul 9, 2007
    Currently Being Moderated
    6. Feb 24, 2007 9:01 PM (in response to virtualswim)
    Re: Overcoming Fear Of Water

    Try the Total Immersion DVDs and book. I was afraid of the water and unable to swim my whole life, despite many lessons and attempts as a child. Last summer I decided I needed to learn to swim, so went to Total Immersion (www.totalimmersion.net) and bought the "Happy Laps" and "Freestyle Made Easy" DVDs on line. I committed to myself to simply focus on "doing the drills" as directed, not trying to learn to swim, and not trying to do too much too fast. I did the drills at the pool in my gym. I generally did workouts in the middle of the day, so few others were in the pool. I found being more alone made me less self-conscious and more comfortable. I generally stayed in a lane near the wall so I could grab a wall if needed (as I often did at first). The fact that it was a lap pool of only 4-foot depth helped -- I told myself it was OK to stop and stand up (as I often did at first), and if I could stop and stand I wasn't going to drown. (True and obvious, but something I needed to tell myself often at first).

     

    Having done the the drills and sequences from the DVDs and working at the pool for a few months, I can now swim comfortably and have my first triathlon coming up in a few weeks.

     

    It seemed implausible to me that I could teach myself to swim and be comfortable in the water just by watching DVDs and following the progression, but it's true. The drills as presented were targeted at non-swimmers and worked for me. I have not been to the Total Immersion classes, but have heard from others they are fantastic. Good Luck.

  • BlueCorsair Rookie 4 posts since
    Jul 9, 2007
    Currently Being Moderated
    7. Feb 26, 2007 5:40 AM (in response to virtualswim)
    Re: Overcoming Fear Of Water

    I was thumbing through some swimming books at the bookstore last night and I found one that claimed that a human bodies natural tendency is to float and that we should tray and lay on the bottom of a pool because we will find it very difficult to stay there and will tend to float up.

    I just have one question...Am I the only one who sinks? Because I could lay on the bottom of the pool all day with no effort. My tendency is to slowly sink in freshwater. This is why I love wetsuits!

  • car2nwallaby Amateur 21 posts since
    Jul 9, 2007
    Currently Being Moderated
    8. Feb 26, 2007 2:39 PM (in response to virtualswim)
    Re: Overcoming Fear Of Water

    Floating and sinking is about density.  If your body is more dense than what it's immersed in, you sink.  If you're less dense, you float.  Most people tend to float in fresh water, but that's not necessarily true for all.

     

    Your density depends largely on your % body fat vs % muscle mass.  Muscle is more dense than water, so very lean muscular people will sink.  On the other hand, fat is less dense than water, so if you have much body fat at all you will float.

     

    This also depends on the water; salt water is more dense than fresh (because of the extra salt dissolved in it) so it is difficult to be more dense than salt water.  Therefore almost everyone floats in salt water.  Another thing that can affect whether you float or sink is how deep a breath you just took; air is much less dense than water so if you take a deep breath you will be more likely to float than if you breathe out all your air.

  • BlueCorsair Rookie 4 posts since
    Jul 9, 2007
    Currently Being Moderated
    9. Feb 27, 2007 9:55 AM (in response to virtualswim)
    Re: Overcoming Fear Of Water

    You are absolutely right. I am about 5% body fat, and if I take a full breath and hold it, I can "float" in fresh water with only my nose and my mouth above the surface. My legs will be pointing straight down and I have to take very shallow breaths to avoid sinking below the surface. I was just wondering how many other people out there are like me or do most swimmers have more natural buoyancy? I will admit that I was very scared to open water swim away from the shore because even though I can swim for miles nonstop, if any little thing went wrong, i would not stand much of a chance, being a sinker. Of course you should never swim alone, but even with a buddy, open water swimming in fresh water was scary for me. So, I use a wetsuit and do most of my swimming in Lake Michigan and Lake Superior. A wetsuit completely removed my fear of open water swimming in freshwater.

    I can float easily in the ocean, so that has never been a concern for me.

     

    BlueCorsair

  • PradeepMahajan Rookie 2 posts since
    Mar 13, 2008
    Currently Being Moderated
    10. Jun 12, 2008 7:54 AM (in response to virtualswim)
    Re: Overcoming Fear Of Water

     

    U know what, actually its not fear of water, its the awkward feeling when you are under water, the hummmmmm sound in your ears when you are submerged.

     

     

    Even I was dead uncomfortable getting totally submerged, when I started learning (I still am btw) i did some exercises on my own to overcome the awkwardness, starting with getting in the shower and trying to breath, then I tried very slowly sliding inside the bathtub with ears partly submerged, then totally submerged, and then holding my nose/breath and getting totally under water, first couple of times just 1 second was enough for me to choke and panic, but I guess third or fourth time, I got it.

     

     

    Now I can get inside water with no fear at all, can hold my breath for couple of second , if not more and actually keep my eyes open to see the blue around me

     

     

    When you are in just 2/3 feets of water, u know u cant drown , so just try the same in pool. hold your nose/breath and just sit in the water. The fear wlll vanish in couple of tries.Mine did.

     

     

    Let me know how are coping up.

     

     

    regards,

     

     

    Pradeep Mahajan

     

     

    http://my-swim-stories.blogspot.com

     

     

     

     

     

  • GreyWolfSwimmer Rookie 2 posts since
    Aug 18, 2008
    Currently Being Moderated
    11. Aug 18, 2008 12:19 PM (in response to virtualswim)
    Re: Overcoming Fear Of Water

     

    I used to be afriad of diving of the block into the water because i didnt like how hiegh i was from the water but my old coach would have me stand on the block and push me in untill i wasnt afraid anymore because i knew the water would catch me. Maybe what you need is for someone to get in with you at the same speed and walk through the water with you, or maybe you could try being pushed in. Though i dont really recamoned that becuase it may make you more fearful i'd start with just slowly walking into the water with someone else and working up from there.

     

     

  • JimFive Expert 39 posts since
    Apr 8, 2008
    Currently Being Moderated
    12. Aug 28, 2008 1:00 PM (in response to virtualswim)
    Re: Overcoming Fear Of Water

     

    One thing that no one has suggested yet.

     

     

    Get some Goggles.  Good ones that fit well and keep the water out of your eyes.  Being able to see was an immense help for my anxiety.

     

     

    --

     

     

    JimFive

     

     

  • Training4Ironman.com Amateur 31 posts since
    Oct 8, 2009
    Currently Being Moderated
    13. Nov 13, 2009 9:22 AM (in response to virtualswim)
    Re: Overcoming Fear Of Water

    Hello,

     

    Everyone is born with the comfort of being surrounded by water.  Everyone is raised in a large sac of water.

    Once you are born you transfer your body to land and for most of us you become familiar with land and forget

    about water.

     

    I work for Swim Venture (swimventure.com) and we primarly focus our attention to teach kids, teenagers and Adults

    to swim or work on further technique.  We approach swimming with the focus on safety first.  Our program we teach,

    everyone which does not know, builds on the fact of being comfortable with the water and being able to lie on our back

    with out fear.  Once that has been successfully achieved then we move to a survival float.  That means we teach you

    how to float by yourself on your back making sure your chin is and looking up at the sky so that you body is buoyant.

    Then you flip over on your stomach and taking several strokes and kicks till you need to breathe and then you repeat the

    back float to rest and breathe.

     

    From there on we start teaching them actual Freestyle and Backstroke.

    Afterwards they graduate into Swim Camp which then becomes actual swim practice which we work on Starts, Turns and

    finishes of each stroke in the competitive world.

     

    Check the website out and see if there is something like it in your area and give it a shot. Believe me that you are not a lone.

     

    Thanks,

    Matthew Olaya

    Swim Venture

    Huntington Beach

    Head Coach/ Pool Manager





    Thanks,

    Matthew Olaya

    Personal Trainer

    Huntington Beach California

    TrainingWithMatt.com

    matt@trainingwithmatt.com

    -B.S. Kinesiology

    -NASM Cert.

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