Helen Davis, sports psychology consultant for Swim England, said there were a range of reasons for adults being afraid to swim – from having bad experiences as a child, to not liking the smell of chlorine.
“Sometimes, people also think they’ve left it too late or it’s going to be too hard, so it’s very easy to put off,” she said. “Then there’s the fear factor. And if you’re not feeling confident as a swimmer it could put you in physical danger.
“Lots of people focus on the uncertainty when learning to swim, which really inflames those anxieties. It’s important to overcome that through thinking processes, and using your inner dialogue – think about how you have overcome something difficult before and succeeded.
“Mastering your breathing is the most important thing and then confidence will come.”
How to overcome a fear of swimming
- Start by getting your feet wet and try to gradually get deeper into the water
- When you can stand in water deep enough splash water on your face as if you are washing it. At the same time think of positive images while you are splashing your face.
- Next try to learn to hold your breath under the water and breathe out into the water. Basically, blow bubbles!
- Hold the side and practice kicking with your body stretched out
- Don’t feel rushed to make progress.
- And finally, remember you are not alone.