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jpwkeeper 08-17-2011 01:10 PM

How did you learn to swim?
I'm looking for stories on how some of you adult-onset swimmers learned how to swim. Specifically adults who were starting from scratch (unable to swim a pool length), bonus if you had young children and/or a busy schedule to work around. How did you find time to get to the pool? Did you take classes? Were there psychological obstacles?

borate 08-17-2011 02:43 PM


Originally Posted by jpwkeeper (Post 21491)
I'm looking for stories on how some of you adult-onset swimmers learned how to swim.


How did you find time to get to the pool?
I made it (travel time three minutes).


Did you take classes?
Community College beginner/adult (20 poor or non-swimmers).


Were there psychological obstacles?
Fear of death.

tab 08-17-2011 04:12 PM

Yup, sounds like how I got started.

naj 08-17-2011 05:50 PM

Being African American, and having come from a community that has a disproportionate number of drownings, I told myself that swimming was something I had to learn in order to live.

I learned from a kind man in Walnut Creek, CA. He taught me the basics of freestyle in one lesson, but I had no idea why I was doing what I was doing with each component. I've never had a fear of the water, only my comfort level was not high in that I couldn't swim outside of the shallow end.

Finally, went to another teacher and she specialized in teaching adult to overcome their fear of the water. When she saw I had no fear, she suggested TI. The rest is open water history :)

BTW, I was 43 when I learned how to do proper freestyle. Thanks Coach Dave and Coach Fiona!


daveblt 08-18-2011 01:13 AM

As a kid I was just an okay swimmer if that .In my teens I did overcome some fears of the water and improved a quite a bit . Then I believe it was at the end of 1995 or beginning of 1996 I picked up the Total Immersion book and never looked back. So I've been practicing TI technique for the past 16 years and every time I hit the pool I try to swim better than I ever have. I try to get to the pool about 3 times a week . I went to a TI workshop here in Baltimore in 1997 .


tab 08-18-2011 01:59 AM

Children, I watch my daughter swim for a few years before the rest of the family got up the nerve to take lesson with her swim coach. So, now I can swim when she swims. I took up swimming as a fill in to my daily work. It is nearly the only time I spend doing something just for myself, a new hobby of sorts and a challenge. I made the time, as well. Have your kids take lessons and join a swim club, as an excuse for you to go the pool.

psychological obstacles? Every time I get in the water open or pool, getting better, though. Cold water and weeds are still a hurdle. Breast stroke is my starter stroke, from it I am taking on the other three.

Just a little more to my short post earlier today.

AWP 08-18-2011 02:02 AM

At age 40 in search of a fitness regimen (bike rider for years prior), wife, two kids and a new house, I was nudged by a summer intern to try the pool. After much prodding was handed a book and told of a unique 'system' taught by a man who lived in 'my back yard'. Book, website, video clips, book, website, video clips, BINGO!
How? with a family, a job with insane hours and a new home?
I got up at the butt crack of dawn, the only feasible time, every day and sometimes weekends, sometimes twice a day if I could swing a lunch hour, anything to engage myself in what I knew was going to be a big part of keeping my life cohesive and happy. And yes in the dead of winter too, when the morning was night and the air was frigid! I was completely hooked!
I just turned 46 this summer and can't imagine looking back, only forward.
As the children age and work and 'home life' becomes more 'challenging', it does get harder. No more so than this year for me, after a wonderful season of practice last year and being stoked for some challenges this year, found myself squandering for time to practice, not only @ the pool but in the open water, what I came to enjoy most in the last two years. Not to mention support! Support from family and like minded friends.
How to reconcile? Your mindset, it's not a short term deal, a fad, just a means to stay fit, it's a practice. A practice for a life time that embraced as such will undoubtedly bring one satisfaction not only in their swimming but in their overall perspective of life.
Sound hoaky? Give it a try, a real "college try" and see!

Much luck,

P.S. Self taught all the way, a testament to the process.

Graziella 08-18-2011 10:10 AM

learned how to swim as an adult
I picked up breaststroke as a kid.
Didn`t swim much later bec I didn`t like public pools.
May 2011 I started learning freestyle and
practiced once the week with students at sports University.
Besides that I got the freestyle TI DVD and am now practicing
again in a public pool : )

dhoward 08-18-2011 10:30 AM

I was absolutely terrified of water my whole life, thanks to my parents pointing out every drowning in the news from the time I was a small child, and also due to a couple of full-on panic episodes in pools as a teenager. At age 46, four years ago, I decided I was tired of being scared, and went looking for a program that could help me get over the fear. I found the Miracle Swimming Institute ( It's specifically for adults who are afraid in water. I was very skeptical at the start, but by golly it worked. Their program doesn't "teach you to swim", it teaches you how to feel safe in the water so that then you can learn to swim. This is the big piece that most adult learn-to-swim programs are missing.

Then I was ready to take some lessons at the Y, but those were worthless. The teenage instructors assumed that adults already knew some basics and just wanted refinement. At six months I was finally able to flail the length of a 25-yd pool. Then I found the TI website and videos, and a local pre-masters program. At two years out, I was able to swim a mile of freestyle, and do all four strokes!

Mike from NS 08-18-2011 05:54 PM

My reply is very much like Borate's -- in many ways.

I started from scratch 5 years ago (at 53) with zero swim ability ~~ unable to "swim" any distance at all. (With snorkel and mask, as long as I could reach bottom, I could "play" in the salt water at a beach.)

I decided to take lessons after a near drowning experience ...long story... and therefore made time to join a 20 person rec dept evening class for beginner adults. Nothing but frustration came from that; the following year I took another set of adult beginner lessons; but these were at a University pool and proved a bit better; the following year another set of lessons at the university pool with limited but positive results. In the years since I have followed the TI instructions via video and DVD ~ going the self taught route. The five year period has been filled with assistance from people on these forums. Were there psychological obstacles? Of course there were and Borate put it succinctly: "Fear of death". But I found fins !!! and pressed onward. The downside was that a dependency on the fins developed. Only in the past week or two have I finally been able to swim 25M without fins. And do so on a regular basis now. Still, I need to improve balance and cure breathing issues, but there is no turning back now. So, how have I learned to swim? Slowly !! And now I'm ready to continue a learning process with more confidence.

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