Many people are filled with fear or self-doubt, especially when deciding to learn to swim a little later in life. That's normal, it's OK!
Just like with any skill, the freestyle stroke should be broken down into small, manageable exercises with a clear vision leading to the next step. It's often the feeling of being overwhelmed by too many things to think about that prevents people from attempting this great life-skill. It seems a monumental hurdle to try and overcome just to perform your first few strokes.
1. Decide that you want to learn to swim. Write down a few notes about why you want to learn to swim and what you hope achieving this goal will do for you and your health.
2. Talk to friends who can swim. Ask them what it is that they love about swimming. Listen to their stories about how they learnt. Not everyone takes like a duck to water and you'll probably hear that many of your friends were also a little daunted when they started learning. This is perfectly normal. Listen to where they are now though and realize that to get there, they too had to build things up step by step.
3. Visit a swimming pool. Swimming pools come in a huge variety of shapes, sizes, depths and locations and it is well worthwhile investigating local facilities that you feel comfortable using. Ask friends for their recommendations about suitable venues and quiet times to go.
4. Soak up the smells and sounds. Swimming pools can be very noisy places (especially if indoors) and often the first thing that will hit you is the pungent smell of chlorine as you walk through the door. If you're really nervous, on your first trip to the pool don't even bring your swimming gear, just go and spend 15 to 20 minutes in the lobby area or overlooking the pool and familiarize yourself with these sounds and smells for next time.
5. Bring a buddy and get your feet wet. Ask a good friend to take you to the pool and take your first dip with their assistance. Don't feel like you have to make any monumental steps forward in this first session, just build up your confidence and practise telling yourself that you feel OK and that you are enjoying the experience. Stay positive!
Even good swimmers can have lows with their swimming - try and take them in your stride.
6. Never, ever, ever give up! Think back to Step 1 when you committed yourself to learning how to swim. Quite often just deciding to do this is the biggest hurdle you will face but there will be others. The key to learning to swim smoothly and efficiently is remaining positive.
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