If previous swimming lessons have failed you, it’s because of what learning to swim has meant, for you and the people teaching you.
If you’re a non-swimmer, ‘learning to swim’, as it’s generally understood, is really the last thing you need.
Swimming up and down in leisure centres shouldn’t be anybody’s ultimate goal in my view but it’s as if swimming lessons are designed to get you on the road to that goal.
This idea, that swimming is worth pursuing because it’s good for exercise, puts us on the wrong path.
Swimming for exercise isn’t what you’ve been missing out on. As a non-swimmer you can’t really imagine what it is you’re missing. The new experience awaiting you is a healthy relationship with the water. All good things that happen in water depend on that. A relationship that is natural and much more achievable than you imagine.
This relationship can begin in the first lesson and every subsequent lesson should strengthen the bond.
It starts with being happy with your face underwater, breathing and not breathing. This gives you access to the support the water gives you, when you give yourself to it. To the magic that happens underwater, a place of quietness and calm, where you are genuinely and honestly free from anxiety.
Strokes are almost irrelevant, the least important part of learning to swim, not the most important. Like a child who is happy in water, you’ve got the moves you need.
The notion that you need to get from A to B to gain confidence is misguided. A polystyrene float to hold on to is like a sign post pointing in the wrong direction. Confidence comes from doing nothing, from learning not to react.
Everybody can and probably should experience the magic of being underwater. Some kind of swimming always comes out of that.
As a non-swimmer you need something new, that frees you from anxiety instead of creating more. You’ve got to feel good about the process of starting a new relationship with the water, and keep strengthening the bond.