Can you forget how to swim? Top tips for returning to the pool after a long break

Swimming is both a physical and mental sport as well as a wonderfully versatile activity. It can just as well make for the nicest holidays by the sea, or for the most tiring weekend workout. Either way, there are numerous benefits to pick from as a reason to get back into swimming.

But can you forget how to swim?

It is a question which many people have already asked themselves, be it after 10 years or 10 months. Luckily, the short answer is no. The longer answer calls for some dedication and patience with these top tips for getting back to swimming after a long break to help you along your journey back to the pool.


Strengthen your core

Although swimming uses almost every muscle in the body, from your neck all the way down to your legs, it is ultimately the core which is in charge of coordinating every part with each other. Working on strengthening your core is important to start reintroducing the types of movements you will be doing when swimming. Even though your body may no longer be used to swimming freestyle or backstroke, a strong spine will provide you with the foundation you need to get back into your old strokes.

Luckily, there are a great variety of exercises you can do out of the water to start building your core ahead of your return to the pool, whether it is through playing volleyball or doing planks.

Practice keeping your head above the water

Once you are ready to head over to the pool, it is important to take things as slow as you need to. It doesn’t matter if you were on your water polo team when you were younger or used to swim in the sea every summer, you should not expect yourself to perform at the same level the first time you return to the pool after a long break.

Instead, start by warming up outside the pool and slowly stepping in until your feet no longer touch the ground. Try to stay with your head above the water without swimming left or right. This will help awaken your swimmer’s instincts and help you feel more confident in the water. If you don’t feel ready to go straight into the deep end, you can start in the shallow end and slowly work your way down. 

Start with breaststroke

Although everyone has a swimming technique they feel most comfortable with, breaststroke is usually a good place to start with as you tackle your first lane. Not only does breaststroke allow you to keep your head above the water and looking in front of you, but it is also less tiring and will help you feel more at ease in the water, especially if you are feeling nervous. Just bare in mind that swimming with your head above the water in the long term is not good as it can cause neck pain.

Choose a quiet lane

The nerves you may feel when returning to swimming after a long break will most often dissipate once you refamiliarize yourself with your technique after a few laps back and forth. It may nevertheless be helpful to pick a more quiet and less populated lane so that you may go as slow as you wish and stop whenever you feel the need to without obstructing other swimmers. 

Set realistic goals

Even though you may be most worried about having forgotten your freestyle, swimming is not all about technique. It is a sport which requires a certain amount of physical ability and endurance so before you set off racing from one end of the pool to the other, try to swim one lap at a time and stopping in between to rest. As you start to feel more comfortable, increase it to two at a time and so on.

It may take you one session to remember your old technique, or it may take you weeks; it all depends on your previous level of swimming. This is why it is important to set realistic goals in line with your capabilities and ambitions.

Hire a private swimming teacher

Are you keen to get back to swimming but are unsure where to start or feel nervous about your return?

A private swimming teacher can offer their tips and guidance on how to make your return to the pool as easy and comfortable as possible. Private swimming lessons with Going Swimmingly London are tailored to your needs and to make sure that you will soon be swimming again, no matter how long it has been since you swam your last lap.