According to a Gallup survey, a third of American adults are afraid to put their heads underwater and half are afraid of going into the deep end of the pool.

Editor’s Note: Melon Dash is the author of “Conquer Your Fear of Water: A Revolutionary Way to Learn to Swim Without Ever Feeling Afraid” and co-author of “Conquer Your Fear of the Triathlon Swim.” She is a competitive masters swimmer and runs a a swim academy in Sarasota, Florida strictly for adults with fear in water. The views expressed here are her own. Read more opinion at CNN.

CNN  — 

My first job after college was a teaching assistantship at a small college in New Hampshire, where I taught beginning swimming every semester to around 20 undergrads. I noticed, however, that half of my students couldn’t follow my instructions. They were afraid.

Melon Dash

My students needed a class before beginning swimming. I went to the dean with this problem. “May I teach a class for students who are afraid?”

“Changing the undergraduate curriculum takes a lot of red tape, but if you offer the course through the adult education program, you’ll get paid and the students can come,” he said. Sold.