The one constant in swim lessons is that when starting most students struggle. No matter the age, or ability of the student, swimming is not a natural concept for people.
That leaves the question; why do new users struggle learning to swim?
To better answer this question, we asked our students. By asking everyone, no matter the age, we found the 5 most common reason new swimmers struggle.
No surprise, the major reason new students struggle with swim lessons is due to fear. Our younger students don’t understand the water. Some parents even admitted they contributed to this fear by portraying the water as a something scary that should be avoided. Although this does keep the child out of the water, it instills a fear that makes it difficult for the child to be comfortable in the water.
Unfortunately, this fear doesn’t go away as children get older. At H2.O we get a lot of teenage swim lessons because most parents believed the fear would go away with age. Avoiding swim lessons, or pulling young children out of swim lessons only tells the child that they can be afraid of the water. Because of this, our teenage students actually have a harder time overcoming the fear of the water.
Need more proof that fear gets worse with age? Believe it or not, our adult swim lessons struggle the most with fear. Imagine living 30 years of your life with the understanding that if you were to fall in the pool, there is nothing you could do. This fear created a snowball effect that stuck with them and grew as they got older.
2) Swimming movements.
As stated earlier, swimming is not intuitive to most people, and just like fear, this difficulty gets worse with age.
For young students, the difficulty with the physical movement is comprehension. Most young students believe that they are honestly doing everything right. This is only made worse if the student can move through the water (not swim with proper form, but move). If a child can move through the water, it’s going to be difficult to teach proper form. Students struggle because when proper form gets difficult, they revert to what they think works better.
The good news is, teenagers actually don’t struggle as much if the only difficulty they face is physical. They are young enough where their muscle development has not made them move rigidly in the water, and old enough to understand directions.
That muscle development stated earlier is the primary reason adults struggle. As you get older, your muscles begin to develop a “rigidness”. Muscle development from a lifetime outside of the water, has difficulty to the water. For swimming, you need to have a bit of “fluidity” in your movements, the more muscular you are, the more difficult it is to have fluid movements. With my adult lessons, I paint a clear picture of what we try to do in lessons. I compare the student to a sculpture, right now we need to break apart the way your body moves, and rebuild it with that fluidity you need for swimming.
3) Their Instructor.
Many of our students have explained that a major reason they struggled was due to previous experience with instructors. A bad swim instructor can actually do a lot more damage than good to a student. This is a universal rule across all age groups in swim lessons. If your instructor speeds through lessons, forces you to do things you don’t feel ready for, and doesn’t help you develop a love for the water, your better off looking for someone new. Parents please remember: Swim lessons don’t mean much if your child hates going in the water afterwards. A quality instructor will be able to get results, while also encouraging the student to love the water.
If you, or your child is struggling swim lessons, you are not alone. It’s safe to say that 90% of our students struggle with learning how to swim. The most important thing to do is to stick with it, encourage the student, and don’t risk working with unqualified swim instructors.