SARASOTA, Fla., Jan. 4, 2022 /PRNewswire
“I feel like a fraud. I’m a swimming instructor and I’m terrified in deep water,” admits Jessica E., owner of her own swim school in Texas.
No one knows how many swimming instructors can’t swim. The percentage is likely to be small but acquiring accurate numbers could prove difficult. Afraid-in-water instructors would rather not be found.
Above: When swimming students can rest in deep water, they’ve learned to swim.
Day 1: The first steps of floating
Instructors who can swim are not afraid in deep water. If instructors are afraid, they may be able to stroke, but they can’t swim; they don’t know the water. Learning to swim requires mastering deep water.
“The prime goal of swimming lessons is safety. Become safe by learning to swim. After learning to swim, strokes can be learned for efficiency but they don’t make you safe,” explains Melon Dash, president of Miracle Swimming School for Adults in Sarasota, Florida and lifelong competitive swimmer.
Swim instructors, who one would think would be highly motivated to be comfortable in deep water rather than being exposed as a non-swimmer, cannot overcome their fear with the traditional system they teach. That system espouses that, “Learning to swim is learning strokes.” But learning strokes does not heal fear.
For decades, such instructors could pass swimming tests by stroking through deep water without demonstrating indisputable calm. Today, professionals are slowly finding that learning strokes and learning to swim are different pursuits.
What do all swimming students need to learn? They need to be certain that the water holds them up. They need to know that if they don’t float—because they’re so lean—it’s not an emergency: they can be calm in water, can remain at the surface at will, and get air. They can rest in deep water indefinitely. When someone can do all of that, he can swim. If he wants to be able to swim efficiently, he can learn the choreography of formal strokes.
The drowning rate in America has not changed significantly in the last twenty years. Eighty percent of drownings are by adults. If all adult swim students were taught comfort and confidence in water instead of strokes, water safety in the United States would sharply rise and the drowning rate would plummet.
Deep water mastery is an essential skill of learning to swim. Traditional instructional agencies do not include it.