Many people know they’re afraid in water and will say so. Many would rather not. Many are afraid and don’t know it. Half of American adults are afraid in deep water (Gallup 1998).
You’re in good company if you don’t love deep water! You’re afraid in water if you:
◈ Can’t rest peacefully in water over your head
◈ Hurry to the other side and can’t stop in the middle
◈ Have taken many swimming lessons but can’t get the breathing (you might be afraid)
◈ Wouldn’t happily let go of the side
◈ Don’t love putting your face in…
◈ Are particularly uncomfortable watching your children learn to swim
◈ Don’t go to the deep end
◈ Swim laps only at the wall lane
◈ Are embarrassed or ashamed that you don’t swim
◈ Feel you must make excuses for not attending swimming social functions
◈ Hang your hat on learning to tread water
◈ Hope that learning strokes will make you safe in deep water
It’s all okay! No one is afraid in water for a silly reason. It’s understandable, whether your parent was afraid, you had a frightening experience, someone close to you drowned, or anything else. Fear can be healed without struggle. Do come and make yourself safe. Take our Essentials 1 or Essentials SloMo Course.
◈ You’re not concerned about falling out of a boat on a sunset cruise
◈ You go to the deep end to cool off because that’s where the crowd is not
◈ You learned a stroke in a weekend
◈ You can play in water, shallow and deep
◈ You don’t think twice about swimming to the raft or jumping off it
There is no silly reason that someone is fearful in water, whether shallow or deep, pool or open water. Anyone who has become afraid had an experience that was frightening that wasn’t healed, or they were taught to be afraid by a well-meaning person. This can happen to anyone. You are not odd. Yet you can be happy in deep water. Learning is not scary because we know how to teach it.
“I didn’t know I was afraid. Finally after taking freestyle lessons and struggling to learn the breathing when I was in only 4 feet of water I thought, ‘”Something else is going on.” “
Does My Story Sound Familiar?
I grew up in New York City and splashed around in local pools and the Atlantic Ocean during the summers. At the beach, like most New Yorkers, I wandered in up to my knees and shrieked with every wave, large or small. I was a swimmer!
One summer we spent 2 weeks in Miami at the Castaways Hotel. At the pool I played in the shallow end and was quite content. I saw a girl about my age and asked if she was afraid of deep water too and she said…
Does My Story Sound Famliar?
“No,” and swam toward the deep end. That was the first time I had uttered or remembered thinking I was afraid. I watched her with envy and wanted to be just like her; but couldn’t. I still had fun at my end of the pool; the shallow end. The next summer I was sent to summer camp and was asked to swim in the lake. Wanting to be like the other kids, I jumped into the lake and promptly went under. I was fished out by a counselor standing on the dock with a pole. I never went near the lake again.
For the next 30 years I seemed like someone who swam. I could float, back and front. I could blow bubbles, put my face under water and even open my eyes. As long as I could touch bottom, I was fine. If I thought I should be able to touch bottom and for a moment it wasn’t there, panic ensued.
I took swim classes off and on yet never was able to learn to swim. Swimming to me meant ‘freestyle’ going back and forth lap after lap, effortlessly. I can’t tell you how many traditional swim classes I took, but I can tell you that I never felt like a swimmer.
I’m a water sign (Cancer) and maybe that’s why my favorite place to be is at the beach; or more accurately, to be near water. At motels, I’m the one going in right before closing to just feel the water. When I lived in Santa Fe I would sneak into the downtown hotel pools at night just to be in the water and under the stars. I was a swimming junkie stuck in a fearful body!
At age 38, newly married and living in Berkeley, California, we were considering having a child. I felt strongly that I could not, would not pass this fear of water to my child. I had to conquer it first. I had no idea that a few miles away was a person, who through her Miracle Swimming School would change my life. A co-worker, with similar fears told me about Melon Dash and her classes geared only for Adults Afraid in Water. I called and enrolled for the next session.
As soon as I walked into that first class I knew I was home. How? One of the questions Melon asked us was “How many of you think the water on that end (pointing to the deep end) is different than the water on that end (pointing to the shallow end)? We all, about a dozen of us, raised our hands. Professors, students, scientists and housewives—we all raised our hands. I was home!
Miracle Swimming classes are only for those with a fear of water. Through talking about it and reading Melon’s book which describes what happened when that first panicky feeling supplanted our comfort and ease in water, we go back to our childlike selves and play. We see what it’s like to have fun in the water and not worry about the bottom or sides or other bodies near us. Melon’s methodical series of lessons repeatedly emphasize that feeling comfortable is the first priority. You will never do anything that is not comfortable or fun and that can vary from person to person, lesson to lesson, minute to minute.
“Stay in your body” is her mantra and not only has that served me well in the water; it has served me well climbing ladders, on chair lifts and on rides at Disneyland!
I took the Beginning (Essentials 1) class twice—it was too much fun to stop. We didn’t learn strokes but jumped in the deep end, learned how to kick like a dolphin and did vertical floats. Each lesson ended with me wanting more.
Twenty years passed. I am now 59 and last year had to give up a running career due to injuries. A kernel began forming about contacting Melon and learning freestyle from her. I had taken numerous freestyle classes over the years, most recently last winter, and again I look like I know what I’m doing, but I knew there was something missing. I got so tired of watching people having the fun I wanted to have. I wanted to swim in the cool mountain lake from one shore to its opposite side. I tried different teachers, and my daughter, now a lifeguard and swim instructor, tried to teach me as well. From someone not familiar with the likes of us, we look like we have all the mechanics and just need to ‘do it.’ How many times over the years have I heard, “That’s it! That’s it!” But I knew it wasn’t.
I knew it should feel as good as bobbing in the deep end or doing somersaults and it didn’t. Finally, I contacted Melon and said it was time for me to learn freestyle from her. I loved the water, floated, snorkeled and used a kickboard for weekly chats with friends. But I didn’t feel like a swimmer. I signed up for the Freestyle class and now 4 weeks later, I want to let others know about Miracle Swimming School for Adults.
As soon as I got to that first Freestyle class, I felt as if I had come back home after a long absence. Granted, among the 5 of us who had taken Melon’s beginning class, I was the one who let 20 years go by before signing up for freestyle. No matter. We all spoke the same language and all came from that place – usually occurring in childhood where we had a scary experience in water and hadn’t recovered. The freestyle class is set up like the other MSSA classes – time on land and time in the water. Time on land is spent getting to know one another, talking about the process, reminding us that we are never to venture from Circle 1 which is our home/our body/our presence/our comfort. Panic happens when we are not comfortable and that’s when scary things can happen. They happen because we are ‘not there.’ We are anywhere but there – we’re at the sides, in the shallow end, trying to get out of there.
Though 20 years had passed between my last class and this most current one, it was as if no time had passed. My mind craved his type of teaching – this methodical teaching of how to get to freestyle for people who had a fear of water.
After the 30-hour course, I went back to California and have joined two pools. I swim 4-5 days a week, getting to freestyle the Miracle Swimming way – that is slowly, comfortably and effortlessly – and am now up to 66 laps a session.
If this sounds like you or someone you know — you are at the right table. Melon is happy to answer all questions and concerns. Just email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I wish you good luck and much enjoyment in the pool, ocean or lake. Take if from someone on the verge of 60, it is never too late to experience a miracle!