In my years of working as an Aquatic Instructor, I have quickly learned how fear is one of the biggest inhibitors to our own abilities. Many swimmers, disregarding age, have a fear that can often lead to struggles in and around an aquatic environment. The difficulty, however, is that we live in a climate surrounded by water. With oceans, lakes, rivers, and more at our doorstep, we needn’t go far to experience the joy of swimming. The challenge is when water is out of fear.
How can we respond to a learner who fears the water you may ask.
Simple, be patient. Over time, swimmers need to develop trust, trust in their own abilities, trust in those around them, and trust in the aid provided. Learners, need to understand that they are not alone in their process and that those around them are willing to wait till they are ready.
Now let me pause here for a minute. I am not saying you should not push a stubborn or fearful learner. Sometimes pushing is required. But that must first depend on their attitude and their own personal experiences in the water. When a parent encourages a child to overcome their fears, they are encouraging the child to push forward and through the joy.
Joy! This is why I teach. I teach so that a child can experience joy, rather than fear. I teach swimming because, behind the dear, there is freedom! One little girl I taught this last summer was afraid to put her face in. What she learned by working through working privately was that by conquering the fear she was facing. How far did she come? By the end of her lessons, she was joyfully doing solo floats, swimming to me with her face in, picking up gems from the bottom of the pool and jumping off the wall!
When you’re afraid of stepping out, I encourage you to take a new perspective. You might friend jo behind the fear.