Author Topic: How does an adult learn to swim well?  (Read 959 times)

Villanelle

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How does an adult learn to swim well?
« on: June 08, 2019, 08:39:21 PM »
Technically, I can swim, if by "swim" you mean not drown and travel from point A to point B in the water. I'm a scuba driver, but that's an entirely different thing (you are not supposed to use your arms, so the motion is totally unrelated, and you also don't have to deal with breathing).  I'm also just fairly uncomfortable in the water. 

Our new rental has a fairly large pool, and I'm thinking swimming will be good exercise, especially in the hot summer.  But as I "swim" now, it's awkward and uncomfortable and ineffective, although I supposed "ineffective" actually makes for better exercise, in a way.  Also, I'd just like to be a better swimmer.  How does one go about that as an adult?  I'm not opposed to paying someone (I know, not What Pete Would Do), if necessary, but I wouldn't even know where to begin t find such a thing.  I'm guessing it would only take a few sessions to give me enough tips and corrections and then I could work on it on my own.  But I'm also open to whatever else.  Youtube videos? 

EvenSteven

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Re: How does an adult learn to swim well?
« Reply #1 on: June 08, 2019, 10:23:24 PM »
Best bet would be to join a masters swim club, if that would be practical for you.

Go to the USMS (united states masters swimming) page and look at the club finder.

https://www.usms.org/clubs

secondcor521

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Re: How does an adult learn to swim well?
« Reply #2 on: June 08, 2019, 10:40:08 PM »
The best thing to do in my opinion would be to hire a swimming teacher for private lessons.  I would recommend someone who is Red Cross certified (I think the certification is Water Safety Instructor, or WSI).

I was a WSI-certified swim teacher when I was a teenager.  Although I taught mostly kids and mostly in group lessons, I did have one adult student who, like you, could swim but not well and not efficiently.  He hired me to teach him privately (that just means 1-on-1) for a week, and in that week I was able to improve his ability to swim by multiples.  He went from tiring himself out and looking terrible to efficient and powerful and comfortable.

Also, FWIW, he was in his late-40's and a doctor, so it's nothing to be ashamed of or embarrassed about - it's just something he (and apparently you) haven't learned yet.  As an instructor, I didn't care either; I just was happy to help my student become a better swimmer.

When I was teaching, private lessons were probably $10 per hour, but that was back in the 1980's.  So figure maybe $15-$30 per hour now.  I'd try one week of half hour lessons, so you'd probably be set back less than $75.

And yes, swimming is fantastic exercise.

Good luck!

sol

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Re: How does an adult learn to swim well?
« Reply #3 on: June 08, 2019, 10:41:17 PM »
Like any other person, you take lessons.  I don't think being an adult makes any difference in this situation.

secondcor521

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Re: How does an adult learn to swim well?
« Reply #4 on: June 08, 2019, 10:48:53 PM »
I forgot to answer your actual question in my previous post.

Call your local swimming pool.  There should either be a YMCA with a swimming pool or a local municipal swimming pool.  Either of them should have multiple people who are swimming instructors (they're probably also the lifeguards).  Most swimming instructors are happy to do private lessons since they pay better and are more enjoyable for the instructor.

You could also maybe try the Red Cross, but whomever you reach at your local Red Cross might not know about the swimming side of things; they might just be into disaster relief or blood donations.

And I wouldn't recommend YouTube videos.  You really need someone who knows proper technique to evaluate your swimming and tell you and show you what specifically you need to change.  It could be breathing, body position, head position, your arm stroke, or your kicking.

A good instructor could also teach you different swim strokes if you wanted.  (Canonically there are six:  front crawl, butterfly, breast, back, elementary back, and side.)  As well as treading water, which if you're not a good swimmer might be a good investment in emergency safety.

Malkynn

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Re: How does an adult learn to swim well?
« Reply #5 on: June 09, 2019, 05:43:02 AM »
I did this last year.

I watched some videos online, spent some time in the community pool getting comfortable with my face in the water, and took 4 or 5 lessons to learn basic strokes.

Local pools typically have both group and private lessons. Also, it's usually pretty easy to find an instructor to come to your pool. For how few lessons you need, the cost vs long-term gain is negligible.

You really don't need more than a few lessons in order to get good enough to do laps.

Villanelle

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Re: How does an adult learn to swim well?
« Reply #6 on: June 09, 2019, 09:26:38 AM »
I guess I needed to be more clear.  I assumed that lessons or hiring someone is the way to go.  My research has only turned up places that advertise lessons for kids.  I called three places (two swim schools and a pool that has memberships and also advertises swim lessons) and all said quite definitively that they don't teach adults and when I asked if they had instructors who might like to take a private adult client, they gave me a simple no, and that was it.  My guess was that they don't want to recommend private business for their employees (though it's not like they'd be competing because the business doesn't offer the service I want).

I haven't called the local Y, so that will be my next attempt.  But if anyone know how specifically to FIND an adult swim instructor, ideally for a private lesson, that would be super helpful as it's been far more difficult than I imagined. 

EvenSteven

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Re: How does an adult learn to swim well?
« Reply #7 on: June 09, 2019, 09:33:08 AM »
I guess I needed to be more clear.  I assumed that lessons or hiring someone is the way to go.  My research has only turned up places that advertise lessons for kids.  I called three places (two swim schools and a pool that has memberships and also advertises swim lessons) and all said quite definitively that they don't teach adults and when I asked if they had instructors who might like to take a private adult client, they gave me a simple no, and that was it.  My guess was that they don't want to recommend private business for their employees (though it's not like they'd be competing because the business doesn't offer the service I want).

I haven't called the local Y, so that will be my next attempt.  But if anyone know how specifically to FIND an adult swim instructor, ideally for a private lesson, that would be super helpful as it's been far more difficult than I imagined.

Did you try and find a masters program near you through the link to USMS?

You aren't starting from scratch, and there are coaches who will help you with your technique. There are usually a couple lanes full of people who are poor swimmers who are trying to learn for triathlons.

Villanelle

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Re: How does an adult learn to swim well?
« Reply #8 on: June 09, 2019, 09:36:50 AM »
I guess I needed to be more clear.  I assumed that lessons or hiring someone is the way to go.  My research has only turned up places that advertise lessons for kids.  I called three places (two swim schools and a pool that has memberships and also advertises swim lessons) and all said quite definitively that they don't teach adults and when I asked if they had instructors who might like to take a private adult client, they gave me a simple no, and that was it.  My guess was that they don't want to recommend private business for their employees (though it's not like they'd be competing because the business doesn't offer the service I want).

I haven't called the local Y, so that will be my next attempt.  But if anyone know how specifically to FIND an adult swim instructor, ideally for a private lesson, that would be super helpful as it's been far more difficult than I imagined.

Did you try and find a masters program near you through the link to USMS?

You aren't starting from scratch, and there are coaches who will help you with your technique. There are usually a couple lanes full of people who are poor swimmers who are trying to learn for triathlons.

I've added it to my to-do list for Monday!  Thank you!

misshathaway

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Re: How does an adult learn to swim well?
« Reply #9 on: June 09, 2019, 09:40:40 AM »
I haven't called the local Y, so that will be my next attempt.  But if anyone know how specifically to FIND an adult swim instructor, ideally for a private lesson, that would be super helpful as it's been far more difficult than I imagined.

I learned as an adult at my health club with a few private lessons. Every health club I've ever been to gives adult swimming lessons. How do I know? They take away a lane or two when I want to swim laps.

I would be surprised it you have to be a member to sign up for lessons, although I was when I got them. The instructors are usually independents who just come in for the lessons. Call a few health clubs with pools and see.

marble_faun

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Re: How does an adult learn to swim well?
« Reply #10 on: June 09, 2019, 10:06:42 AM »
The Red Cross offers swim lessons for adults in many locations.

I recall from another thread that you are a fellow fat person, and the good news is this is actually a good advantage in learning to swim.  You will have a lot of natural buoyancy!

My husband (who is very fit) and I sometimes race each other in the pool, and I absolutely give him a run for his money.  He has to expend a lot of energy just to avoid sinking like a rock. It's a really fun and heartening form of exercise for a fat person!  :-)
« Last Edit: June 09, 2019, 10:13:13 AM by marble_faun »

wenchsenior

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Re: How does an adult learn to swim well?
« Reply #11 on: June 09, 2019, 10:39:57 AM »
The Red Cross offers swim lessons for adults in many locations.

I recall from another thread that you are a fellow fat person, and the good news is this is actually a good advantage in learning to swim.  You will have a lot of natural buoyancy!

My husband (who is very fit) and I sometimes race each other in the pool, and I absolutely give him a run for his money.  He has to expend a lot of energy just to avoid sinking like a rock. It's a really fun and heartening form of exercise for a fat person!  :-)

Yes!  I can beat my husband in swimming, though he has a decent stroke technique and is twice as large and more fit than I am, b/c he is so densely built. His natural float point is about 6 inches below the surface of the water.  And there are plenty of very skilled, overweight swimmers at our pool.

OP, I would also recommend trying to take basic lessons from a certified instructor.  Once you have the basic stroke down, there are ways to keep yourself on track to make sure your technique stays good (poor technique seems to lead to shoulder pain in many people).

The biggest hurdle is getting comfortable breathing to the side during crawl. Some of this is practice and some is proper technique, which involves keeping your head in more of a straight line with your spine (the natural urge is to tilt your chin up and look more forward and raise your head a bit out of the water, which throws the whole stroke off). 

Then you imagine your body rotating from side to side on a spit, while being pulled through the water from the the top of the forehead.  Ask your instructor to help you learn this rotation b/c doing it properly will help you breath more easily and position you automatically for better arm technique.  I was a successful competitive swimmer as a kid/teenager, and I still needed to work on rotation when I took swimming up as a middle aged adult.

The final crucial point for crawl is to train yourself to reach straight forward from your shoulder, not toward the midline, and to enter the water with your palm down.  Then you pull straight down your side with a slightly bent arm.  Older techniques (which involved reaching toward the midline, entering thumb down, and doing an s-shaped pull) put way too much pressure on the shoulder.  I get shoulder impingement and pain within days if use the 'old' technique.

All of these points are easy to practice, once you get the basics down.  And they make a huge difference in speed, ease, and efficiency for aerobic conditioning and calorie burning while preventing injury.

Swimming is awesome. I would be in so much worse shape without it.

jodelino

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Re: How does an adult learn to swim well?
« Reply #12 on: June 09, 2019, 01:29:13 PM »
If you live near a college, university, or community college, you could enroll in a semester-long or summer school PE swimming course. When I was in grad school I took several PE swimming classes in order to improve my skills (totally unrelated to my course of study). They were taught by the university swim coaches and I learned a lot.

secondcor521

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Re: How does an adult learn to swim well?
« Reply #13 on: June 09, 2019, 05:30:44 PM »
If you live near a college, university, or community college, you could enroll in a semester-long or summer school PE swimming course. When I was in grad school I took several PE swimming classes in order to improve my skills (totally unrelated to my course of study). They were taught by the university swim coaches and I learned a lot.

Good idea.  This would also mean that if there is a university nearby with a pool, that would be another likely source for swim teachers who might be willing to do private lessons.

Paul der Krake

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Re: How does an adult learn to swim well?
« Reply #14 on: June 09, 2019, 05:46:40 PM »
Swimming is 90% technique, 10% fitness. Don't even bother with "training" until you reach a certain level of stroke competency.

Watch this a couple times: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rJpFVvho0o4

Notice how streamlined he's able to maintain his body. The core movement doesn't come from his arms, it originates in his hips/belly, rolling from one side to another.

Now go to your local pool, and count your strokes. If you have the usual 25 yard pool that's most prevalent in the US and you're a mediocre swimmer, it's likely going to take you 25-30 strokes to get to one end to the other. Observe the better swimmers: the most efficient can cross the pool in 10-12 strokes, all day, every day. Experiment until you get there. It won't be easy. It will take time.

accolay

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Re: How does an adult learn to swim well?
« Reply #15 on: June 09, 2019, 07:57:29 PM »
I took swimming lessons when I was a kid at the local midwestern small town community pool but I never really learned.

I bought this book when I was in the service so I could learn how to swim well.
https://www.amazon.com/Complete-Book-Swimming-Phillip-Whitten/dp/0679746676
(I'm not sure about the naysaying reviews- it's the COMPLETE book of swimming. If you want to learn strokes, just turn to that chapter)

I was pretty comfortable in the water, but really comfortable now. I'm not an Olympic swimmer, but I swim for exercise.

I had a girlfriend a number of years back who couldn't swim, so I paid for lessons for her- that seemed to work well for her.

Once you learn the basic strokes it's practice practice practice. The technique will come, but you wont have it when you start, so you're going to feel dead after a lap or two.  You keep adding pieces to your stroke to make it more efficient as you go along.

Do buy some swim goggles (15$ will do fine). Learn how to put your face in the water- the breathing technique was half the batter for me.

happy

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Re: How does an adult learn to swim well?
« Reply #16 on: June 10, 2019, 06:39:33 AM »
I don't live in the US, but in my country any reputable swim school will usually have an adult learn to swim and/or adult swim for fitness class. Here, its not too hard to find them. My local teaches adults to swim - everything from beginners through to training olympians. If you are scuba diving you owe it to yourself and the folk you are diving with to be a reasonably competent swimmer.

BlueHouse

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Re: How does an adult learn to swim well?
« Reply #17 on: June 13, 2019, 12:55:13 PM »
I'm not a great swimmer, but my understanding is that strong swimming skills come from learning how to breathe correctly.  And practice.  So definitely think an instructor is worthwhile as they can help with these.

ex.  get ALL of your breath out before you take next breath, breathe every 3rd stroke for muscle balance, etc.

cchrissyy

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Re: How does an adult learn to swim well?
« Reply #18 on: June 13, 2019, 01:03:02 PM »
a few years ago, I took a series of adult swim lessons (group) at the YMCA so I would know how to properly do the strokes and swim laps. it was a good experience!  do any of your local gyms have indoor pools?

Dicey

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Re: How does an adult learn to swim well?
« Reply #19 on: June 22, 2019, 09:30:07 AM »
When all else fails, ask on NextDoor or your local FB group.

aceyou

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Re: How does an adult learn to swim well?
« Reply #20 on: June 22, 2019, 09:35:52 PM »
My neighbor enters triathlons...and wins them.  We have and 18 acre 18 ft. deep lake in our neighborhood.  He's been giving me lessons. 

If you ask your friends, you might be surprised who can help you get started.  When people are really good at something, they often find a lot of gratification in teaching it to others who want to learn. 

A year ago I was terrible.  Now I'd rate myself as average...give me another year at this and I think I'll be pretty darn decent:)