via Hanna Wares – AVAC
When one of my friends asked me a few years ago if I wanted to do a triathlon I laughed. Despite being a Pisces (a water sign), swimming and I go as well together as oil and water. The pool to me was somewhere to go to sit and relax, occasionally dipping in to cool off. I’m sure it had a lot to do with the near death drowning experiences I had as a child, you know the ones, jumping into the deep end and not realizing it was the deep end, having my head held under water by a very mean boy at my local swimming baths in the UK. The funniest one was when my Mum and Dad told me to stay on the beach while they went to get a cup of tea leaving me to go wave jumping in some random stranger’s dinghy, which tipped over leaving me lost in the ocean for a traumatic 30 seconds (it was probably about 5 seconds in reality).
All of the above definitely led to having a fear of swimming. I just had no desire to get in the water. After the laughter about doing a Tri subsided, I found myself thinking about doing the Tri. I decided to give myself two weeks of practice in the pool before signing up. I realized pretty quickly that this really wasn’t going to be easy as I couldn’t make it one lap before having to stop to breathe. I was a lost cause and needed expert help. I hired a trainer at AVAC who was also a swim coach. I was so nervous to begin with, I really thought that this was just not going to work. I could hardly turn my head to breathe and I only could breathe on the one side. My trainer was so understanding and listened to my issues with water. We started off with some simple drills that I have seen my 7 year old son do in his swim classes at AVAC. I thought I was past needing to do these because I’m an adult. The simple blowing bubbles under the water while implementing the bunny ears form actually started to help me relax. Practicing to breathe out in a slow controlled way is way more important than I ever thought. She also gave me some quality mind over matter advice and I started implementing a mantra. Later on in life I have come to realize that most, if not all, athletes have a personal mantra that they use when they need that extra push or focus. For some it could be a phrase, for others it could simply be counting. When I was learning to swim it was the waltz, when I was swimming in the bay it changed to ‘just keep swimming’ thanks to Dory from Finding Nemo. Once I got my mantra down my whole body started to relax and I could concentrate on my form. Within the first hour of my first swim lesson I was breathing to one side well and with confidence. I could swim more than just a lap. Then I was given some simple drills to practice, yep I was given homework. After the next lesson I was breathing on both sides. It wasn’t always smooth and some pool water was certainly drank, but with constant correction and advice on form and encouragement, I cut my 30 minute lap swimming time in half. Every time I got into the pool it was getting easier. It’s amazing how I still start my pool workout the same way – back to basics. I have to relax first by doing my breathing techniques and my special mantra that was given to me by my trainer. My old habits of freezing up and getting nervous whenever someone mentions swimming in the pool are still there but I have to correct my mind and tell myself that was the old me, I can swim now and I’m actually pretty good!
It’s never too late to learn to swim, celebrate 50 years of bunny ears with us and treat yourself to a new goal. If swimming is something that you have secretly wanted to improve on but felt scared to take the plunge, AVAC swim school can help you every step of the way.