Why is swimming so hard to learn and perform? I have a little fear of drowning, but I am still willing to swim. The first couple strokes feel good, but when I start breathing it feels like I can't inhale enough oxygen. Why do I start to sink during my swim? These are just a couple of the questions which everyone faces when they start swimming.
Some Basics Key Points to Swimming:
- Humans are Land-Based Mammals, therefore, water is foreign
- We are designed to stand upright and move in 3 planes of motion (Frontal, Sagittal and Transverse)
- Water gives us the weightless feeling so we have no control over any of our movements
- Swimming is a full body exercise which incorporates cardio, strength and continuous forward propulsion
- Remember that our chest cavity is where we are the most buoyant, therefore, pushing your chest downward while swimming will cause your lower half (legs) to float
- Swimming is performed in the horizontal plane and should never be done in a vertical plane
- Muscling through the water will only hurt the water temporary, but the water will overwhelm you by exhausting you
- Be nice to the water and you will be able to glide and mimic what water based animals do everyday
- Drag, lift and propulsion are key components to moving through a body of water
Fear of Water?
This is the first question you have to ask yourself. If you have the slightest fear of water (underwater, not touching the floor) then learning to swim will never be successful. Reason being, if there is fear in the back of your mind, then preforming the activity (swimming) will never be 100% because in the back of your mind you will have that fear. There are a lot of people that have fears related to water and that is completely normal.
First issue is you must conquer your fear! If you are afraid of holding your breathe underwater, practice going underwater plugging your nose with your fingers and try staying there for a long time. After conquering this you will progress to going underwater with your nose plugged still, but this time you will practice blowing out air through your mouth. Once conquered, then we progress to no fingers plugging your nose and just holding your breathe. Then proceed without plugging your nose and start blowing out air through your mouth only. Once you have conquered this, you will now try to swim around underwater without plugging your nose.
There is also a second type of people that have a fear and once they are in a body of water and can't touch the floor, they panic and freak out. Remember the key points whenever performing something; do not panic and calm your body to prevent any problems. Walk to a point in the body of water where your chest is still exposed to the outside air. Slowly bend your knees as if you were performing a squat and push off the floor hard trying to simulate jumping into the air. Perform this multiple times feeling comfortable with not feeling the bottom of the pool. Once you have conquered this, then you will stand up and try jumping again but this time tucking your knees into your chest and hold your knees using your arms (hug your knees). Perform this multiple times to really get used to the feeling of weightlessness and not worrying about the floor not being there. Last suggestion for the floor fear is trying to float or swim underwater without ever touching the bottom of the pool. This will cause you to really focus on the swimming and not depend on the floor to calm you. You might feel a slight panic coming on during this, but slow down and tell yourself that you are OK and the floor is there only when you need it.
Third issue is panic. This is the worst thing anyone can do in any situation. When fear sets in, panic usually follows. To prevent the transition of fear to panic you must really be cautious. Whenever working on a drill (mentioned above) you must practice them 100% with your entire focus on it. At this point you must take your fear and slow down. Either close your eyes (stop whatever your are doing), hold your breathe and just relax. Even if you are underwater or floating. Just relax (remember that humans can easily hold there breath 20 secs) therefore, first focus on calming your fears down. Once you feel comfortable then you stop what you are doing and start from square one. This will cause your body to understand that fear is fine, but what happens next is also fine. If you constantly follow fear with panic then your mind and body will follow that pattern every time, even if an emergency or accident were to occur. Repetition will tune the body to follow the pattern you have been repeating.