The health benefits, fitness gains and enjoyment provided by swimming have all been tried and tested by millions – so, why miss out?
Luckily, swimming is truly at the reach of anyone and everyone, attracting people of all ages and fitness levels by its versatility and utility.
Whether you no longer want to be condemned to your beach chair during the next heatwave or are looking to improve your strength and cardio; you can follow these straightforward first steps to learning how to swim.
1. Get comfortable with being in the water
No one likes being thrown into the deep end, especially when you are just starting to learn how to swim. Before you start tiptoeing on the deeper side of the pool, you should take the time to get comfortable with being in the water in the shallow end to grow accustomed to the feeling of buoyancy.
Whether you have been fostering a fear of water for many years or simply feel nervous about trying out this new experience, it is perfectly normal to feel a little uneasy before your first dip in the pool.
You should remember to take your time. Start by lowering yourself into the water down to where you feel comfortable and then work on gradually immersing yourself further. It may take a few minutes, or it may take a few additional trips to the pool, either way, you should aim to feel at ease with having your head under water before leaving the shallow waters.
2. Practice holding your breath underwater
For most people, having their heads submerged underwater is not something that they will have ever experienced before learning how to swim. It is precisely for that reason that it can be one of the most challenging things to overcome during your first visits to the pool. It is nevertheless an inevitable part of learning various swimming strokes and therefore needs to be tackled as early as possible.
Methods vary greatly, but there are a few tricks and movements you can practice as a way of getting accustomed to holding your breath underwater.
Standing in hip-level water, slowly dip your face in the water; hold it for a few seconds and come out again to breathe in. Repeat this in increasing increments of time to get used to this cycle of holding your breath and breathing normally.
Keep in mind that you should avoid having to gasp for air when you stand back up, instead, try to find a comfortable pace that works for your natural breathing rhythm. After all, it is not every day that you have to learn how to overcome one of your most basic natural instincts.
3. Buy some swimming goggles
Not having to rub your eyes after every splash of water and being able to see clearly underwater will not only make your swimming experience more comfortable, but also enjoyable.
Two of the greatest challenges of learning how to swim are getting over the fear of the water and holding your breath underwater. Goggles can help with both of these to make your time in the pool go that much smoother.
4. Get some equipment to help you
When you are used to having solid ground under your feet, floating on top of water can seem very unnatural. Luckily, there are plenty of tools you can use to help you as you take those first steps to learn how to swim.
Flotation devices and fins are often the most valuable to beginners as they offer support without interfering in the actual mechanics of the movements.
A kickboard can help stabilize you as you practice body rotations and leg kicks for a number of different strokes. On the other hand, fins can give you some extra power to allow you to focus on your arm and upper body movements, as well as helping you build your endurance to swim for longer periods of time.
As helpful as these devices may be, you should nevertheless keep in mind that the ultimate goal is to swim without them. So, try not to get too attached!
5. Spend time practicing
You feel comfortable with being in the water, with holding your breath underwater and are familiar with basic swimming techniques: now the time has come for you to just practice, practice and practice.
Try to have someone video record you to help you identify any errors in your form and technical mistakes you need to improve on. Having a friend by your side who already knows how to swim can be helpful in accompanying you along your journey.
6. Be consistent with your swimming practice
As with most things, practice makes perfect. Swimming is no exception to this rule since the more time you actually spend in the water, the more confident and proficient you will become.
If you are struggling to find time in your busy schedule to free up for a few trips to the pool, you should remember that being consistent with your swimming is more important than trying to squeeze in as many swimming sessions as possible. This will help you stay on track with your progress and avoid any month-long hiatus likely to have you forget all the valuable skills you learned.
Still unsure? Find out how often should you be swimming according to your level and time availability.
7. Get a swimming instructor
If you are keen on learning how to swim quickly and correctly, signing up to a private or group lesson is often the best way to go. A swimming instructor can provide support during the initial first steps in the pool and subsequently provide the required guidance on accurate technique and form.
Going Swimmingly London offers a private swimming class for anyone interested in learning how to swim. Whether you are hoping to get your first start in the pool as an adult or have a child who is keen on joining their school’s swim team, a knowledgeable and dedicated instructor can help you scale those first steps to learning how to swim.
Whether you are learning how to swim for your next beach holiday, to improve your fitness or simply for leisure, the key is to take things one step at a time and have the right guidance by your side.
With just a bit of patience and a little more practice, you will be splashing about in the sea or swimming laps around the pool before you even know it.