One of the first hurdles any new swimmer faces is feeling comfortable submerging themselves under water. Many novice swimmers, especially children, resist swimming because they are scared to put themselves in a situation where they might not be able to breathe. Some swimmers are also uncomfortable with the physical sensation of having their whole body under water.
Our instructors at H2O Aquatics are sensitive to each swimmer’s needs and work to develop tricks and tips to help you feel more safe going under. Regardless of your age or expertise, we have come up with five tips to help any scared swimmer get themselves under the water for the first time!
Take Your Time
Tackling your fears isn’t something that should be done in a hurry! The easiest way to get comfortable in the water is to ease into it. Rushing into something like going under for the first time only leads to bad experiences that may make a swimmer’s fear of the water worse. H2O Aquatics instructors let their swimmers set their own pace to allow them to feel in control of the situation, while also encouraging them to keep pushing forward and trying new things.
Swimmers set goals for each lesson and work through them as they feel comfortable. A healthy balance of patience and persistence is the best way to overcome a fear of getting yourself completely under water. Take it slowly, step-by-step, and eventually you will be able to swan-dive head first into the pool without a second thought.
Break it Down Into Pieces
When a swimmer begins to become more comfortable with the water and it comes time to finally fully submerge, it is best to encourage them to do so a little bit at a time. This is especially important for swimmers with sensory issues, as it can be incredibly overwhelming for them to have their whole body underwater.
Our instructors have learned that in coaching someone to get all the way under, new swimmers should start with the chin, move to the mouth, then the nose, next the ears, and lastly the eyes. Breaking it down into steps can give you a feeling of accomplishment as you survive each and every step. This sense of accomplishment can motivate you to move on to the next step and before you know it, you’ll be swimming around like a fish!
This may sound like a silly one, but it works for swimmers of all ages; everyone who has gone to swim lessons has blown bubbles before. Coaching new swimmers to put just their mouth into the water and then to blow bubbles can help ease them into the sensation of having their face underwater. This is an easy trick to combine with breaking down submersion into pieces – when it comes time for the swimmer to put their mouth under, they can practice blowing bubbles to keep themselves calm and to practice breath control.
Knowing how to properly release air underwater can help new swimmers feel relaxed in the pool and, more importantly, keeps water from getting up their nose. Practicing bubble blowing also helps build lung capacity which is an important strength for swimmers of any level of expertise.
Sometimes, as new swimmers start their first descent into the water, they begin to overthink all the things that could go wrong. For many, completely submerging themselves under water is a terrifying thought that can stir up a great deal of anxiety. Unfortunately, this often leads the swimmer to never want to go under the water, which makes coaching them into it next to impossible.
Our instructors have been trained to surprise swimmers with a little bit of water on their faces when they get nervous to show them there’s nothing to be afraid of. For example, when working with an anxious child, our instructors have been trained to bounce the student up and down in the water, getting their chin and occasionally their mouth underwater. This allows the child to develop a reaction to water going over their face and help them build confidence towards complete submersion.
Never Force It
Sometimes, getting a new swimmer underwater can be a lengthy process; most swimmers aren’t confident enough to completely submerge themselves on the first try. Swimmers like this should never be forced under the water if they aren’t ready. It’s easy to prioritize results over the well-being of the student, but doing so is completely ineffective.
H2O Aquatics swim instructors work hard to build trust with their students and introduce submersion in a fun, safe environment. Some students simply aren’t ready! As discussed under the first tip, the easiest way to coach a new swimmer into getting their whole body under water is to be patient yet persistent and respectful yet encouraging. If you or someone you know is struggling with their fear of swimming, refer back to the first four tips and work your way up to being ready!
The Importance of Never Giving Up
Going underwater for the first time can be a scary, overwhelming experience for anyone- especially new swimmers. It takes practice and skill to confidently allow yourself to drop below the surface. At H2O Aquatics, we have worked with many students who require a little extra help feeling comfortable to let themselves go underwater.
Based on years of experience with beginner swimmers, we came up with these five tricks to help those of you who are a little more nervous about getting in the pool. Keep in mind that none of these tips are guaranteed to work on the first try. If you work your way through these tips and still feel afraid, don’t lose hope! We are all more resilient than we think and the most important thing is to not give up.
Contact H2O Aquatics today to get your child signed up for their first swim lesson! We are ready to work with you in not only helping them to learn how to go underwater but many other important swim skills as well.