As it turns out, I was not the only adult who never learned how to swim as a child. Many adults are interested in learning to swim but are reluctant due to fear. I no longer see the pool as this scary place and can share a few things I’ve learned. Below are a few tips to help adults interested in learning how to swim.
Private vs group lessons
I’ve been fortunate enough to experience both. Group lessons can be helpful depending on your goals. Adults learning to swim who aren’t fearful of the water would probably do well in group lessons. Some adults and children do really well with group lessons because they are motivated by their peers. Most group lessons are typically small groups about 10 or under. Private lessons are a wise decision if you are extremely fearful since you will have the instructors undivided attention. For children, private lessons may be helpful if they are also fearful or have difficulty taking instruction in a group setting.
What to wear
Swimming shorts for males and bathing suits for females tend to work just well. I have found that department store bathing suits and 2 piece suits don’t hold up that well in chlorine water. The type of one piece suits worn by swim teams works best in the pool. These suits are made of a material that typically withstands the waters of the pool. Specialty stores like Omega sports, have reasonable priced suits and seem to be knowledgeable about sizing. Swim suit sizing tend to be much different than typical women sizes. Goggles can come in handy if you are like me and don’t particularly like getting water in your eyes. A variety of styles and colors can be purchased from just about any store that sells sporting goods. Early on I would simply focus on a pair that fits and protects the eyes. As you become more advanced, and you will, you may want to consider getting a specific type or brand.
The question of whether or not my hair gets wet often comes up as a topic when I mention swimming. Now I am sure this greatly contributes to the number of women not swimming. This is a serious subject that has impacted many African American women and contributes to their reluctance to learn to swim, myself included. Believe me when I tell you that I wouldn’t even consider swimming when I wore permed hair. I can go on and on about how my hair was a factor in my decision not to participate in many activities, but I digress. The good news is that there are many styles and sizes of swimming caps to choose from and I have tried a few. I no longer have permed hair but still prefer my hair to remain as dry as possible. I have found the best variety while shopping online since retail stores usually stock a limited supply.
In terms of other accessories, your swim instructor will assist you based on your goals, what you are learning, and your skill level. I found fins to be extremely helpful while attempting to learn freestyle swimming. They really propel you through the water and make it less challenging in the beginning.
There are several options to choose from when deciding where to take classes. Gyms, recreational centers, swim clubs, private pools or your local YMCA. Depending on your schedule, location and budget will determine the best option for you. I have experience with lessons at recreations centers and my local YMCA. I was pleased with all the facilities as well as the variety of class offerings. It is often helpful to speak with the aquatics director as well as a current or former student.
So there you have it. Have no fear if you are an adult learning to swim! The most important part is to find a place where you are comfortable with the environment and instructor. Swimming is one of the few activities that can be enjoyed throughout the course of a lifespan. You can swim from early childhood through the golden years. It really doesn’t matter if you learn to swim as a preschooler, teenager, young adult or over 40 like me. Everyone starts at the same place…The intersection of RELAX and BREATHE.