Author Topic: Has anyone learned to swim as an adult?  (Read 3782 times)

LeftA

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Has anyone learned to swim as an adult?
« on: May 22, 2022, 08:57:12 PM »
For as long as I can remember I’ve been scared of water.

I have still gone into shallow water and I can swim in it. As long as I have the security of knowing that when I tire I can put my feet down and stand in the water. When I was younger, I was less afraid and actually dunked my head in, but haven’t done this for years now.

I want to overcome this fear and learn to swim properly in deep water. I’m thinking of signing up for private lessons. I have an above ground pool and they will come to me for the lessons. (We have a pool as the rest of my family can swim, and I made sure my children became very strong swimmers).

Just wondering if anyone here learned to swim as an adult and is willing to share their story? I could really use some encouragement!

onecoolcat

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Re: Has anyone learned to swim as an adult?
« Reply #1 on: May 22, 2022, 09:14:44 PM »
I did.  I learned to float but not swim as a kid.  I wasn't afraid of the water though (the deep-end of the pool is just a couple inches taller than me).  Just got in the pool with a relative that swims and he got me going in no time. 
 

nereo

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Re: Has anyone learned to swim as an adult?
« Reply #2 on: May 23, 2022, 04:22:23 AM »
For as long as I can remember I’ve been scared of water.

I have still gone into shallow water and I can swim in it. As long as I have the security of knowing that when I tire I can put my feet down and stand in the water. When I was younger, I was less afraid and actually dunked my head in, but haven’t done this for years now.

I want to overcome this fear and learn to swim properly in deep water. I’m thinking of signing up for private lessons. I have an above ground pool and they will come to me for the lessons. (We have a pool as the rest of my family can swim, and I made sure my children became very strong swimmers).

Just wondering if anyone here learned to swim as an adult and is willing to share their story? I could really use some encouragement!

My experience has been as a swim instructor who taught a class for adults who could not swim. While several became “too busy” to return after the first or second lesson, everyone who stayed through the course improved substantially, and almost everyone was able to pass a basic swim test by the end. Many came to us because they had some degree of aqua phobia to begin.

Staying calm is the biggest thing. Your body is pretty close to neutral in water, and slow deliberate movements are all you need (see the “survival float”)

Good luck!

shureShote

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Re: Has anyone learned to swim as an adult?
« Reply #3 on: May 23, 2022, 05:28:18 AM »
You seem to have a great situation (pool, an instructor will come to you, harder to ditch when they are standing in your driveway), so you can do this!!

I had a friend who learned in her 30s. The biggest challenge was for her to simply remember "I can swim" once she progressed and got in deeper water. Once she figured out all she had to do was flip over into a back float position to regain her breath/bearings/composure when needed she slowly gained more and more confidence.

Good luck, take it slow...but not to slow.


cupcakery

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Re: Has anyone learned to swim as an adult?
« Reply #4 on: May 23, 2022, 05:31:43 AM »
My parents were of the throw them in the water and they'll learn to swim school of thought.  I'd just have to be fished out before I drowned.  When I had kids I wanted to develop at least a minimum level of competency in case I had to go after them some day.  I still have some anxiety near the water and I'm not great at it, but I did manage to teach myself to swim. 

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Re: Has anyone learned to swim as an adult?
« Reply #5 on: May 23, 2022, 05:52:24 AM »
I learned as a kid, but like @nereo I got my WSI certification and taught Red Cross swim lessons as a high school kid.  I really enjoyed teaching all my students, including one adult who was by his own accurate admission a lousy swimmer.  One week of private instruction with me and he was very much improved and he said he was very glad he did it.

I'd highly recommend a WSI-certified Red Cross instructor and private lessons.  That way they can work on specifically what you want to work on, and you can avoid any worry or concern related to other students.  If they're WSI-certified, they can also make sure you're taught proper technique.

As a practical matter, there is nothing particularly different between teaching an adult to swim or learning as an adult compared to learning when you're a kid.  It's a skill you just don't have yet, and there's nothing wrong with that other than your increased risk of drowning if you find yourself in a situation where swimming is necessary.

With good instruction and persistence, every student I've ever taught or heard about has learned to swim, so I'm quite confident you would be successful if you put in the effort.

lazycow

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Re: Has anyone learned to swim as an adult?
« Reply #6 on: May 23, 2022, 06:27:36 AM »
Two of my sea swimming group - aged 57 and 65 - have just learned to swim this past year! The older woman was petrified of putting her face in the water  but can now do a competent freestyle! We are all incredibly proud of them both!! You can do this!

APowers

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Re: Has anyone learned to swim as an adult?
« Reply #7 on: May 23, 2022, 09:45:19 AM »
Taught myself how to swim a couple years ago. Didn't have regular access to a pool as a kid, so never learned. I could dog-paddle moderately well, but I knew that wasn't really swimming, and my body composition was "hold-my-breath-and-sink" so trying to "just float" never made any sense to me. I knew I couldn't tread water the way I saw others do, because I simply wasn't buoyant enough (I tried, trust me).

Started out by watching very nearly every swimming instructional video on youtube. Then went to the YMCA pool nearly daily for about 2 months. Didn't actually swim the first week; did the "face underwater" breathing exercises and some practice "floating" (to practice the body positions for a proper crawl stroke). Then did some push-off-the-edge-and-glide exercises, and slowly built up from there. Again, watching and rewatching youtube tutorials the whole time.

I was determined to learn without any aids, so I didn't buy myself goggles until I felt I had the basic technique down. However, they would have made it easier, if you aren't weird like me, lol! The YMCA closed all the pools down after the first couple months due to covid (of course I had to pick 2020 as the year to learn swimming, haha!), so I didn't get as much follow-on practice, but I can definitely swim now, although I do want to take some more time to dedicate to actually getting good.


Phenix

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Re: Has anyone learned to swim as an adult?
« Reply #9 on: May 23, 2022, 11:39:38 AM »
I got dunked in the shallow end of the pool when I was young, took a bunch of water up the nose and avoided water from then on because I knew if I went in the water I was bound to get water up my nose. In my late teens I bought a diving mask and spent a couple weeks at the local pool. First, I would just put my face in the water, then I started holding onto the side and floating, then floating with my face in the water, and finally some simple paddling to propel myself through the water with some confidence. Eventually I ditched the diving mask and happily starting accepting invitations to go swimming. Now in my thirties, my favorite vacations involve watersports. Once I got past the initial fear, I was able to make so much progress and it's brought abundant joy to my life.

Best of luck to you! It sounds like you're really setting yourself up for success and added enjoyment to your life.

wenchsenior

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Re: Has anyone learned to swim as an adult?
« Reply #10 on: May 23, 2022, 01:37:44 PM »
Swimming is absolutely fantastic. Apart from when perfectly relaxed when drifting off to sleep or when first waking, or post orgasmic, it is literally the most relaxed I ever get...lap swimming/doubling as meditation. I also love all other forms of swimming, too.

I'm excited for you to learn, OP.

SunnyDays

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Re: Has anyone learned to swim as an adult?
« Reply #11 on: May 23, 2022, 05:14:50 PM »
Try to find a pool that uses salt water instead of chlorine.  They're almost impossible to sink in.  I used to go to one many years ago and I floated like a cork.

cool7hand

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Re: Has anyone learned to swim as an adult?
« Reply #12 on: May 24, 2022, 07:19:55 AM »
I learned to swim more efficiently as an adult, and another classmate was learning to swim in the same program: Total Immersion. Whether you're just learning or trying to improve your next Ironman time, many swear by Total Immersion.

BZB

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Re: Has anyone learned to swim as an adult?
« Reply #13 on: May 25, 2022, 08:03:37 AM »
I did, in my late 40's! I took lessons as a kid and also through a city parks program as an adult but nothing stuck. I never got the hang of turning my head to breathe while doing the freestyle. Over several years, my son took lessons at the YMCA and another highly recommended swim lesson place, but still couldn't really swim. It was a lot of money and time wasted. Last year I took my son for beginner swim lessons at a SCUBA shop, and I signed myself up for lessons too. This time it worked. The instructor is really good, and now we're both swimming pretty well, and my son was able to earn a swimming merit badge for scouts. So, for us it was finding the right instructor to get the techniques right, and also time spent practicing, in that order.

scottish

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Re: Has anyone learned to swim as an adult?
« Reply #14 on: May 25, 2022, 03:31:04 PM »
Yeah, swimming is suprisingly technical, isn't it?    I mean it looks pretty straightforward when you watch an expert swimmer.    The water is not actively resisting your ability to swim, like an opponent in other sports.     And yet it's very easy to wind up plowing slowly through the water like a human bulldozer.

nereo

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Re: Has anyone learned to swim as an adult?
« Reply #15 on: May 25, 2022, 04:56:05 PM »
Yeah, swimming is suprisingly technical, isn't it?    I mean it looks pretty straightforward when you watch an expert swimmer.    The water is not actively resisting your ability to swim, like an opponent in other sports.     And yet it's very easy to wind up plowing slowly through the water like a human bulldozer.

There are very few other sports (or hobbies) that involve restrictive breathing, being horizontal and relying primary on your arms and core for locomotion (rather than your legs). From the dominant muscles used to the medium, there’s not much else like it.

lollylegs

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Re: Has anyone learned to swim as an adult?
« Reply #16 on: May 27, 2022, 12:48:38 PM »
My mum learned to swim in her late 50's - it was one her proudest achievements!

As kids we grew up in swim club, getting up early before school to swim, in club races each week and spending weekends swimming at beaches or rivers. Mum never swam, she would say that she didn't want to get her hair wet ( those were the days of the weekly 'set' at the hairdressers) and we just believed that.

It wasn't until I was an adult, with my own children going to swim classes that she confided that she was actually terrified of the water after her sister almost drowned next to her in a river as a child. She had decided that her kids would learn to swim early and thats why she had us so involved in it - she did not want us to be scared of the water like she was. But she regretted that she never learned herself.

So with a LOT of encouragement she enrolled in an adult learn to swim class,  she learned to get her face wet, to blow bubbles, to use a kickboard and eventually she learned to swim with her head underwater. We all celebrated with her and those memories are some of my happiest, seeing her overcome this fear and going on the be one of those regular morning swimmers for the rest of her life.

Just do it - find a teacher that truly understands the fear and is willing to take it slow and then be patient with yourself as you learn.

LeftA

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Re: Has anyone learned to swim as an adult?
« Reply #17 on: August 05, 2022, 09:24:37 PM »
Thank you to everyone who has shared positive reinforcement! I so appreciate it.

I made this post and then suffered a lot of set backs with my pool opening. By the time everything was FINALLY working, the 1:1 lesson availability was full. However, fall adult 1:1 lessons open on August 11th. I have bookmarked the date in my calendar and hope to be back in a few days to update you all on when my first lesson will take place!

And now for some individual acknowledgment…

@nereo , thanks for sharing your experience as an instructor. It’s really encouraging to hear about adults being successful.

@shureShote, I’ll try to remember that when I get scared!

@cupcakery , good for you! I made sure both my kiddos took lessons and they are both strong swimmers thankfully.

@secondcor521 , thank you so much! Your words are so helpful!

@lazycow , wow that’s amazing! I’m starting at a similar place…

@APowers , good for you! Watching YouTube videos to learn something like swimming takes dedication in my view. I think this is something I need the structure an instructor would provide.

@joe189man , I’ll check it out.

@Phenix , wow I’d love to be able to enjoy water sports. That seems like a pipe dream at the moment. But, I will take the first step and see how it goes from there!

@wenchsenior , wow your enthusiasm is motivating me!

@SunnyDays, I have such a people and alas that hasn’t happened for me.

@cool7hand , I’ve never heard of this program.

@BZB , way to go! I’m roughly the same age :)

@scottish , LOL.

@lollylegs , your post really touched me! Thank you for sharing.

 





Malcat

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Re: Has anyone learned to swim as an adult?
« Reply #18 on: August 06, 2022, 04:42:41 AM »
I personally can't swim. I know how to swim, but shoulder injuries prevent me from being able to.

However, I have a snorkel and I love to do laps just kicking. The snorkel allows me to not need enough momentum to keep my head up, I just float face-down in the water, breathe freely, eyes open thanks to goggles, and slowly kick my way across the pool.

It's very meditative, and I just not having to worry about the whole breathing part. A lot of people do laps with snorkels because it's more relaxing.


MoneyTree

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Re: Has anyone learned to swim as an adult?
« Reply #19 on: August 06, 2022, 05:00:23 PM »
Yes, I learned to swim on my own as an adult. I tried taking the cheap lessons at the community center, but I should have known that wouldn’t be too helpful. It was just some kid from the local high school swim team who needed a part time job. Would just watch me flail about and say that I should stop doing that.

Eventually taught myself well enough to complete shorter triathlons.

The big switch was getting comfortable breathing while having water splashing all around my face. Previously I would hold my breath and swim as far as I could manage, then stop and catch my breath. At some point someone pointed out that I could exhale while my face was underwater so that in the half l-second I turned my head to take a breath, I only had to inhale, instead of exhaling then inhaling. That may seem obvious, but I had no idea.

From that point on it was just spending a lot of time getting comfortable at my own pace.

wenchsenior

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Re: Has anyone learned to swim as an adult?
« Reply #20 on: August 06, 2022, 06:16:04 PM »
Yes, I learned to swim on my own as an adult. I tried taking the cheap lessons at the community center, but I should have known that wouldn’t be too helpful. It was just some kid from the local high school swim team who needed a part time job. Would just watch me flail about and say that I should stop doing that.

Eventually taught myself well enough to complete shorter triathlons.

The big switch was getting comfortable breathing while having water splashing all around my face. Previously I would hold my breath and swim as far as I could manage, then stop and catch my breath. At some point someone pointed out that I could exhale while my face was underwater so that in the half l-second I turned my head to take a breath, I only had to inhale, instead of exhaling then inhaling. That may seem obvious, but I had no idea.

From that point on it was just spending a lot of time getting comfortable at my own pace.

It's funny...this summer I've been working on learning a new stroke (combat side stroke) and learning to swim a 500 of it as fast as is required to be deployed as an active Navy Seal. (I'm very close, so now I reset my goal to be even more ambitious...the point at which Navy Seals BRAG about their times LOL).

Anyway, I was trying to explain the stroke to a friend who doesn't swim well and was never taught anything technical...to help clarify what I was saying, I sent her a video of me swimming it.  There's plenty of time to breath in this stroke, and I was breathing every stroke, facing the camera. She still asked me: "But how the hell do you swim 20 laps if you don't breathe?"  She literally couldn't even see on video that I was breathing, I guess because people who aren't comfortable swimming don't register that you can get a full breath in a split second just turning your mouth into the tiny trough in the water that is created by your momentum.

uniwelder

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Re: Has anyone learned to swim as an adult?
« Reply #21 on: August 06, 2022, 07:00:57 PM »
It's funny...this summer I've been working on learning a new stroke (combat side stroke) and learning to swim a 500 of it as fast as is required to be deployed as an active Navy Seal. (I'm very close, so now I reset my goal to be even more ambitious...the point at which Navy Seals BRAG about their times LOL).

Anyway, I was trying to explain the stroke to a friend who doesn't swim well and was never taught anything technical...to help clarify what I was saying, I sent her a video of me swimming it.  There's plenty of time to breath in this stroke, and I was breathing every stroke, facing the camera. She still asked me: "But how the hell do you swim 20 laps if you don't breathe?"  She literally couldn't even see on video that I was breathing, I guess because people who aren't comfortable swimming don't register that you can get a full breath in a split second just turning your mouth into the tiny trough in the water that is created by your momentum.

As someone else that is uncomfortable in the water, I highly recommend the side stroke.  I'm afraid of being underwater (or even having my face down in the water), and have always found it difficult to swim without being ridiculously slow or inefficient.  I found the side stroke technique, which can be done well with your face always up and out of the water, plus its pretty fast and untiring for laps in the pool.  I'm definitely not doing it the same way as WenchSenior is, but I'm very happy with myself for the time being until I get over my water phobia.

Malcat

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Re: Has anyone learned to swim as an adult?
« Reply #22 on: August 06, 2022, 08:06:46 PM »
It's funny...this summer I've been working on learning a new stroke (combat side stroke) and learning to swim a 500 of it as fast as is required to be deployed as an active Navy Seal. (I'm very close, so now I reset my goal to be even more ambitious...the point at which Navy Seals BRAG about their times LOL).

Anyway, I was trying to explain the stroke to a friend who doesn't swim well and was never taught anything technical...to help clarify what I was saying, I sent her a video of me swimming it.  There's plenty of time to breath in this stroke, and I was breathing every stroke, facing the camera. She still asked me: "But how the hell do you swim 20 laps if you don't breathe?"  She literally couldn't even see on video that I was breathing, I guess because people who aren't comfortable swimming don't register that you can get a full breath in a split second just turning your mouth into the tiny trough in the water that is created by your momentum.

As someone else that is uncomfortable in the water, I highly recommend the side stroke.  I'm afraid of being underwater (or even having my face down in the water), and have always found it difficult to swim without being ridiculously slow or inefficient.  I found the side stroke technique, which can be done well with your face always up and out of the water, plus its pretty fast and untiring for laps in the pool.  I'm definitely not doing it the same way as WenchSenior is, but I'm very happy with myself for the time being until I get over my water phobia.

You should try a snorkel. It feels a bit insane breathing with your face in the water, but once you get used to it, it's frickin awesome. Plus then you can do front crawl and never have to worry about breathing.

I have a waterproof mp3 player and I zone out with my face down in the water listening to audiobooks and tuning out the world. I sometimes just stop and float for awhile.

uniwelder

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Re: Has anyone learned to swim as an adult?
« Reply #23 on: August 06, 2022, 09:36:30 PM »
It's funny...this summer I've been working on learning a new stroke (combat side stroke) and learning to swim a 500 of it as fast as is required to be deployed as an active Navy Seal. (I'm very close, so now I reset my goal to be even more ambitious...the point at which Navy Seals BRAG about their times LOL).

Anyway, I was trying to explain the stroke to a friend who doesn't swim well and was never taught anything technical...to help clarify what I was saying, I sent her a video of me swimming it.  There's plenty of time to breath in this stroke, and I was breathing every stroke, facing the camera. She still asked me: "But how the hell do you swim 20 laps if you don't breathe?"  She literally couldn't even see on video that I was breathing, I guess because people who aren't comfortable swimming don't register that you can get a full breath in a split second just turning your mouth into the tiny trough in the water that is created by your momentum.

As someone else that is uncomfortable in the water, I highly recommend the side stroke.  I'm afraid of being underwater (or even having my face down in the water), and have always found it difficult to swim without being ridiculously slow or inefficient.  I found the side stroke technique, which can be done well with your face always up and out of the water, plus its pretty fast and untiring for laps in the pool.  I'm definitely not doing it the same way as WenchSenior is, but I'm very happy with myself for the time being until I get over my water phobia.

You should try a snorkel. It feels a bit insane breathing with your face in the water, but once you get used to it, it's frickin awesome. Plus then you can do front crawl and never have to worry about breathing.

I have a waterproof mp3 player and I zone out with my face down in the water listening to audiobooks and tuning out the world. I sometimes just stop and float for awhile.

A snorkel terrifies me. I know it’s not rational

Malcat

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Re: Has anyone learned to swim as an adult?
« Reply #24 on: August 07, 2022, 03:53:45 AM »
It's funny...this summer I've been working on learning a new stroke (combat side stroke) and learning to swim a 500 of it as fast as is required to be deployed as an active Navy Seal. (I'm very close, so now I reset my goal to be even more ambitious...the point at which Navy Seals BRAG about their times LOL).

Anyway, I was trying to explain the stroke to a friend who doesn't swim well and was never taught anything technical...to help clarify what I was saying, I sent her a video of me swimming it.  There's plenty of time to breath in this stroke, and I was breathing every stroke, facing the camera. She still asked me: "But how the hell do you swim 20 laps if you don't breathe?"  She literally couldn't even see on video that I was breathing, I guess because people who aren't comfortable swimming don't register that you can get a full breath in a split second just turning your mouth into the tiny trough in the water that is created by your momentum.

As someone else that is uncomfortable in the water, I highly recommend the side stroke.  I'm afraid of being underwater (or even having my face down in the water), and have always found it difficult to swim without being ridiculously slow or inefficient.  I found the side stroke technique, which can be done well with your face always up and out of the water, plus its pretty fast and untiring for laps in the pool.  I'm definitely not doing it the same way as WenchSenior is, but I'm very happy with myself for the time being until I get over my water phobia.

You should try a snorkel. It feels a bit insane breathing with your face in the water, but once you get used to it, it's frickin awesome. Plus then you can do front crawl and never have to worry about breathing.

I have a waterproof mp3 player and I zone out with my face down in the water listening to audiobooks and tuning out the world. I sometimes just stop and float for awhile.

A snorkel terrifies me. I know it’s not rational

Uh. Being afraid of sticking your face in water while breathing isn't irrational, that seems like basic survival instinct.

My point was that if you were able to get used to it, you may become much more comfortable with water in general.

wenchsenior

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Re: Has anyone learned to swim as an adult?
« Reply #25 on: August 07, 2022, 12:32:17 PM »
It's funny...this summer I've been working on learning a new stroke (combat side stroke) and learning to swim a 500 of it as fast as is required to be deployed as an active Navy Seal. (I'm very close, so now I reset my goal to be even more ambitious...the point at which Navy Seals BRAG about their times LOL).

Anyway, I was trying to explain the stroke to a friend who doesn't swim well and was never taught anything technical...to help clarify what I was saying, I sent her a video of me swimming it.  There's plenty of time to breath in this stroke, and I was breathing every stroke, facing the camera. She still asked me: "But how the hell do you swim 20 laps if you don't breathe?"  She literally couldn't even see on video that I was breathing, I guess because people who aren't comfortable swimming don't register that you can get a full breath in a split second just turning your mouth into the tiny trough in the water that is created by your momentum.

As someone else that is uncomfortable in the water, I highly recommend the side stroke.  I'm afraid of being underwater (or even having my face down in the water), and have always found it difficult to swim without being ridiculously slow or inefficient.  I found the side stroke technique, which can be done well with your face always up and out of the water, plus its pretty fast and untiring for laps in the pool.  I'm definitely not doing it the same way as WenchSenior is, but I'm very happy with myself for the time being until I get over my water phobia.

Yeah, combat side stroke is different beast from regular (the kick is the same, but everything else is different), but I agree that regular side stroke is a great start for people who have fear of face submersion.

LeftA

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Re: Has anyone learned to swim as an adult?
« Reply #26 on: August 11, 2022, 02:41:24 PM »
For those waiting with bated breath for an update…my first lesson is on the first Thursday of September.

I’m excited…and scared all in one!

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Re: Has anyone learned to swim as an adult?
« Reply #27 on: August 11, 2022, 10:22:20 PM »
It's funny...this summer I've been working on learning a new stroke (combat side stroke) and learning to swim a 500 of it as fast as is required to be deployed as an active Navy Seal. (I'm very close, so now I reset my goal to be even more ambitious...the point at which Navy Seals BRAG about their times LOL).

Anyway, I was trying to explain the stroke to a friend who doesn't swim well and was never taught anything technical...to help clarify what I was saying, I sent her a video of me swimming it.  There's plenty of time to breath in this stroke, and I was breathing every stroke, facing the camera. She still asked me: "But how the hell do you swim 20 laps if you don't breathe?"  She literally couldn't even see on video that I was breathing, I guess because people who aren't comfortable swimming don't register that you can get a full breath in a split second just turning your mouth into the tiny trough in the water that is created by your momentum.

As someone else that is uncomfortable in the water, I highly recommend the side stroke.  I'm afraid of being underwater (or even having my face down in the water), and have always found it difficult to swim without being ridiculously slow or inefficient.  I found the side stroke technique, which can be done well with your face always up and out of the water, plus its pretty fast and untiring for laps in the pool.  I'm definitely not doing it the same way as WenchSenior is, but I'm very happy with myself for the time being until I get over my water phobia.

You should try a snorkel. It feels a bit insane breathing with your face in the water, but once you get used to it, it's frickin awesome. Plus then you can do front crawl and never have to worry about breathing.

I have a waterproof mp3 player and I zone out with my face down in the water listening to audiobooks and tuning out the world. I sometimes just stop and float for awhile.

A snorkel terrifies me. I know it’s not rational

Uh. Being afraid of sticking your face in water while breathing isn't irrational, that seems like basic survival instinct.

My point was that if you were able to get used to it, you may become much more comfortable with water in general.

I should get a snorkel.  I'm not afraid of water (the wildlife in it is a different story) but I failed swim lessons at the y multiple times as a kid because I'm not coordinated enough to get the fucking asymmetrical synchronized breathing.  I can do a slow breast stroke, side stroke on both sides, and backstroke (a little crooked but basically competent).  Half a lap of freestyle and I get water in my nose or tire out and flip to my back.

Morning Glory

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Re: Has anyone learned to swim as an adult?
« Reply #28 on: August 11, 2022, 10:23:07 PM »
For those waiting with bated breath for an update…my first lesson is on the first Thursday of September.

I’m excited…and scared all in one!

Congratulations!!!

Malcat

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Re: Has anyone learned to swim as an adult?
« Reply #29 on: August 12, 2022, 05:20:15 AM »
I should get a snorkel.  I'm not afraid of water (the wildlife in it is a different story) but I failed swim lessons at the y multiple times as a kid because I'm not coordinated enough to get the fucking asymmetrical synchronized breathing.  I can do a slow breast stroke, side stroke on both sides, and backstroke (a little crooked but basically competent).  Half a lap of freestyle and I get water in my nose or tire out and flip to my back.

Dooooo iiiit. It's so liberating. It makes swimming sooooo much easier.

I have a Michael Phelps snorkel, it's awesome. The waterproof MP3 player is clutch too. I can't wait for my legs to work again and I can get back to zoning out in the water for hours at a time.

wenchsenior

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Re: Has anyone learned to swim as an adult?
« Reply #30 on: August 12, 2022, 12:18:44 PM »
It's funny...this summer I've been working on learning a new stroke (combat side stroke) and learning to swim a 500 of it as fast as is required to be deployed as an active Navy Seal. (I'm very close, so now I reset my goal to be even more ambitious...the point at which Navy Seals BRAG about their times LOL).

Anyway, I was trying to explain the stroke to a friend who doesn't swim well and was never taught anything technical...to help clarify what I was saying, I sent her a video of me swimming it.  There's plenty of time to breath in this stroke, and I was breathing every stroke, facing the camera. She still asked me: "But how the hell do you swim 20 laps if you don't breathe?"  She literally couldn't even see on video that I was breathing, I guess because people who aren't comfortable swimming don't register that you can get a full breath in a split second just turning your mouth into the tiny trough in the water that is created by your momentum.

As someone else that is uncomfortable in the water, I highly recommend the side stroke.  I'm afraid of being underwater (or even having my face down in the water), and have always found it difficult to swim without being ridiculously slow or inefficient.  I found the side stroke technique, which can be done well with your face always up and out of the water, plus its pretty fast and untiring for laps in the pool.  I'm definitely not doing it the same way as WenchSenior is, but I'm very happy with myself for the time being until I get over my water phobia.

You should try a snorkel. It feels a bit insane breathing with your face in the water, but once you get used to it, it's frickin awesome. Plus then you can do front crawl and never have to worry about breathing.

I have a waterproof mp3 player and I zone out with my face down in the water listening to audiobooks and tuning out the world. I sometimes just stop and float for awhile.

A snorkel terrifies me. I know it’s not rational

Uh. Being afraid of sticking your face in water while breathing isn't irrational, that seems like basic survival instinct.

My point was that if you were able to get used to it, you may become much more comfortable with water in general.

I should get a snorkel.  I'm not afraid of water (the wildlife in it is a different story) but I failed swim lessons at the y multiple times as a kid because I'm not coordinated enough to get the fucking asymmetrical synchronized breathing.  I can do a slow breast stroke, side stroke on both sides, and backstroke (a little crooked but basically competent).  Half a lap of freestyle and I get water in my nose or tire out and flip to my back.

One or more things are likely happening here.

One, you simply aren't breathing properly. You have to exhale underwater and inhale when you turn your head. I know that sounds obvious, but surprising numbers of people try to hold their breath when their face is in the water, then exhale AND inhale when they turn their head to breathe.

Two, you aren't getting your mouth/nose clear on the inhale. There are two common reasons for this: incorrect alignment in the water, and insufficient torso rotation.   

The position of your body when swimming freestyle should be almost flat in the water (head to toes), with your neck relaxed and your head in line with your body. Hips and legs should be high in the water, and head should be down (don't lift your head to look forward, just cast your eyes a little in front as you look at the bottom of the pool). As soon as you lift your head up high in the water, even just slightly, your hips and legs drop and you create a bunch of drag. Personally, I struggle with this problem on backstroke b/c I have a tendency to want to drop my chin just a touch to glance at the far end of the pool, when in reality I need to lay my head back like it's on a thin 'pillow'. I'm a fast backstroker, but it is a stroke that takes constant concentration and me chanting, "head back/head back/head back" b/c shortly after I lose focus my ass starts to 'drag'. Lifting the head in freestyle tends to bunch water up the front of your body and both splash into your mouth and also slow your momentum (and smooth momentum is part of what creates a nice dip in the water that you can turn to breathe into).

The most obvious thing that people do wrong in freestyle that creates breathing problems is lack of rotation. When you swim freestyle in all but extremely specialized circumstances, your torso should rotate notably in the water all the way to the hips, and even through the legs a little bit.

Keeping your torso flat in the water creates all kinds of problems: it creates drag and collects a little wave of water up around your shoulders and face, it strains your shoulder joints b/c your shoulder has to flex way too much toward your back (plus then your hand entry tends to be just a bit too 'wide' and often swimmers then overcompensate for that by reaching back toward the midline on their hand entry; both of these faults lead notoriously to chronic swimmer's shoulder), and it means  you have to crank your neck to turn your face completely to one side to breath (not optimal...try taking a breath with your face turned as far as you can turn it to one side and see how much harder it feels).  Whereas if you rotate your whole torso, your face naturally turns to the breathing side and you don't have to turn your neck much at all.

Observe. Note that Phelps is not swimming his typical racing style 'galloping' freestyle here, but a more typical form of hip-driven freestyle meant for lap swimming/distance/training. Hip-driven in particular is characterized by long stretch out front after hand entry, slow stroke rate, and notable body rotation. See how his head is down and his whole chest and shoulder rotate on each stroke, and lift his face automatically to breathe? ETA: Also, you can see the bubble trail continuously out of his nose and mouth as he exhales underwater. No breath holding.

  https://www.bing.com/videos/search?q=michael+phelps+slow+mo+freestyel&view=detail&mid=6E499DD91283BB2E90A06E499DD91283BB2E90A0&FORM=VIRE

ETA: If by asymmetrical breathing you mean breathing to both sides, that's not strictly necessary. Most people more comfortably breathe to one side or the other (I naturally breathe to the left). When you are first learning to be comfortable breathing, you can just breathe on every stroke to the easier side. Eventually, you can practice breathing on the other side and alternating. Swimming while breathing exclusively to only one side can create problems if you swim a lot of freestyle, but it's not the first thing to be worrying about.

ETA: I also attached a couple of screen caps showing my rotation from the side, so you can see how much there is. See how my back and even the soles of my feet show as I rotate away? And on the rotation to breathe, my head is laying flat in the water and just lifting out a bit as my shoulder rises to clear space?
« Last Edit: August 12, 2022, 12:48:44 PM by wenchsenior »

Morning Glory

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Re: Has anyone learned to swim as an adult?
« Reply #31 on: August 12, 2022, 07:42:34 PM »
It's funny...this summer I've been working on learning a new stroke (combat side stroke) and learning to swim a 500 of it as fast as is required to be deployed as an active Navy Seal. (I'm very close, so now I reset my goal to be even more ambitious...the point at which Navy Seals BRAG about their times LOL).

Anyway, I was trying to explain the stroke to a friend who doesn't swim well and was never taught anything technical...to help clarify what I was saying, I sent her a video of me swimming it.  There's plenty of time to breath in this stroke, and I was breathing every stroke, facing the camera. She still asked me: "But how the hell do you swim 20 laps if you don't breathe?"  She literally couldn't even see on video that I was breathing, I guess because people who aren't comfortable swimming don't register that you can get a full breath in a split second just turning your mouth into the tiny trough in the water that is created by your momentum.

As someone else that is uncomfortable in the water, I highly recommend the side stroke.  I'm afraid of being underwater (or even having my face down in the water), and have always found it difficult to swim without being ridiculously slow or inefficient.  I found the side stroke technique, which can be done well with your face always up and out of the water, plus its pretty fast and untiring for laps in the pool.  I'm definitely not doing it the same way as WenchSenior is, but I'm very happy with myself for the time being until I get over my water phobia.

You should try a snorkel. It feels a bit insane breathing with your face in the water, but once you get used to it, it's frickin awesome. Plus then you can do front crawl and never have to worry about breathing.

I have a waterproof mp3 player and I zone out with my face down in the water listening to audiobooks and tuning out the world. I sometimes just stop and float for awhile.

A snorkel terrifies me. I know it’s not rational

Uh. Being afraid of sticking your face in water while breathing isn't irrational, that seems like basic survival instinct.

My point was that if you were able to get used to it, you may become much more comfortable with water in general.

I should get a snorkel.  I'm not afraid of water (the wildlife in it is a different story) but I failed swim lessons at the y multiple times as a kid because I'm not coordinated enough to get the fucking asymmetrical synchronized breathing.  I can do a slow breast stroke, side stroke on both sides, and backstroke (a little crooked but basically competent).  Half a lap of freestyle and I get water in my nose or tire out and flip to my back.

One or more things are likely happening here.

One, you simply aren't breathing properly. You have to exhale underwater and inhale when you turn your head. I know that sounds obvious, but surprising numbers of people try to hold their breath when their face is in the water, then exhale AND inhale when they turn their head to breathe.

Two, you aren't getting your mouth/nose clear on the inhale. There are two common reasons for this: incorrect alignment in the water, and insufficient torso rotation.   

The position of your body when swimming freestyle should be almost flat in the water (head to toes), with your neck relaxed and your head in line with your body. Hips and legs should be high in the water, and head should be down (don't lift your head to look forward, just cast your eyes a little in front as you look at the bottom of the pool). As soon as you lift your head up high in the water, even just slightly, your hips and legs drop and you create a bunch of drag. Personally, I struggle with this problem on backstroke b/c I have a tendency to want to drop my chin just a touch to glance at the far end of the pool, when in reality I need to lay my head back like it's on a thin 'pillow'. I'm a fast backstroker, but it is a stroke that takes constant concentration and me chanting, "head back/head back/head back" b/c shortly after I lose focus my ass starts to 'drag'. Lifting the head in freestyle tends to bunch water up the front of your body and both splash into your mouth and also slow your momentum (and smooth momentum is part of what creates a nice dip in the water that you can turn to breathe into).

The most obvious thing that people do wrong in freestyle that creates breathing problems is lack of rotation. When you swim freestyle in all but extremely specialized circumstances, your torso should rotate notably in the water all the way to the hips, and even through the legs a little bit.

Keeping your torso flat in the water creates all kinds of problems: it creates drag and collects a little wave of water up around your shoulders and face, it strains your shoulder joints b/c your shoulder has to flex way too much toward your back (plus then your hand entry tends to be just a bit too 'wide' and often swimmers then overcompensate for that by reaching back toward the midline on their hand entry; both of these faults lead notoriously to chronic swimmer's shoulder), and it means  you have to crank your neck to turn your face completely to one side to breath (not optimal...try taking a breath with your face turned as far as you can turn it to one side and see how much harder it feels).  Whereas if you rotate your whole torso, your face naturally turns to the breathing side and you don't have to turn your neck much at all.

Observe. Note that Phelps is not swimming his typical racing style 'galloping' freestyle here, but a more typical form of hip-driven freestyle meant for lap swimming/distance/training. Hip-driven in particular is characterized by long stretch out front after hand entry, slow stroke rate, and notable body rotation. See how his head is down and his whole chest and shoulder rotate on each stroke, and lift his face automatically to breathe? ETA: Also, you can see the bubble trail continuously out of his nose and mouth as he exhales underwater. No breath holding.

  https://www.bing.com/videos/search?q=michael+phelps+slow+mo+freestyel&view=detail&mid=6E499DD91283BB2E90A06E499DD91283BB2E90A0&FORM=VIRE

ETA: If by asymmetrical breathing you mean breathing to both sides, that's not strictly necessary. Most people more comfortably breathe to one side or the other (I naturally breathe to the left). When you are first learning to be comfortable breathing, you can just breathe on every stroke to the easier side. Eventually, you can practice breathing on the other side and alternating. Swimming while breathing exclusively to only one side can create problems if you swim a lot of freestyle, but it's not the first thing to be worrying about.

ETA: I also attached a couple of screen caps showing my rotation from the side, so you can see how much there is. See how my back and even the soles of my feet show as I rotate away? And on the rotation to breathe, my head is laying flat in the water and just lifting out a bit as my shoulder rises to clear space?

Oh thank you for the detailed posting.  I am definitely not rotating enough, probably due to crappy teachers when I was a kid but I've always thought of floating as a matter of keeping my hips straight and swimming  as a matter of moving arms and legs. I breathe to the right out of habit and my neck has been really tight on that side lately,  which isn't helping matters. I wonder how to learn to rotate when I've been doing it wrong for almost 40 years.  I'm good at the "breathing out continuously " thing though, so that's a start.
« Last Edit: August 12, 2022, 07:47:03 PM by Morning Glory »

wenchsenior

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Re: Has anyone learned to swim as an adult?
« Reply #32 on: August 13, 2022, 12:27:20 PM »
Yeah, there's lots of stuff I was taught as a kid that has been revised since then. I was also taught to swim somewhat flat (and to do my hand entry close to the midline with my thumb down...huge problem for shoulder strain...very incorrect).

One thing to check is whether you are trying to start your pull right away as soon as your hand enters the water. If so, that's working against you. That style of freestyle (known as shoulder-driven) is used for sprinting, but it does not involve as much rotation (b/c the hips have to sort of stabilize against the quick hard pull) and it has no glide phase at all. It's got a quicker stroke rate, so it's also more taxing to swim. Most people would do best to not bother with it very much when swimming for exercise (unless you want to train using wind-sprints or quick timed drills).

ETA: In the attached link (https://youtu.be/eSrqoTWMISw) to a rather cheesy video, just jump ahead to 35 seconds and look at the drill with the swimmer 'boxing'.  That's the motion of shoulder-driven freestyle (fast tempo, powerful 'punch' down into the water a bit closer to the head, followed by a quick pull). See how his hips have to stay flat to counter-balance?  That is NOT what you want to be doing.

Contrast that with my body in the photos doing hip-driven style, stretched way out in front with rotation all the way past the hips. If you aren't already 'gliding out in front', that is something to prioritize, b/c it's easier to rotate in combo with a glide.

Next time you are swimming, I would suggest that as you reach forward upon hand entry, concentrate on slowing down your stroke a bit. Try adding a second of glide by rolling about 3/4ers of the way onto your side for the count of 'one-one thousand' while you extend your hand forward in the water (like Superman/like my hand in the photos) before you start the pull.

It's fine to practice this with an exaggerated roll and a very slow stroke with a long glide while you are trying to get used to the feeling and make the stroke more automatic.

When I first started swimming again a few years ago after a long layoff, I had to 'retrain' my freestyle to add a lot more rotation and to learn to not reach my hand toward the midline too much. That's almost all I worked on for several months, but it got to be automatic eventually.
« Last Edit: August 13, 2022, 12:39:38 PM by wenchsenior »

scottish

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Re: Has anyone learned to swim as an adult?
« Reply #33 on: August 14, 2022, 02:50:06 PM »


Oh thank you for the detailed posting.  I am definitely not rotating enough, probably due to crappy teachers when I was a kid but I've always thought of floating as a matter of keeping my hips straight and swimming  as a matter of moving arms and legs. I breathe to the right out of habit and my neck has been really tight on that side lately,  which isn't helping matters. I wonder how to learn to rotate when I've been doing it wrong for almost 40 years.  I'm good at the "breathing out continuously " thing though, so that's a start.

I found this book helpful.   I think the author was responsible for the combat side stroke discussed in the navy SEAL thread.

https://www.amazon.com/Swimming-Made-Easy-Immersion-Swimmer/dp/1931009015/

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Re: Has anyone learned to swim as an adult?
« Reply #34 on: August 15, 2022, 12:16:14 PM »
I've been around water my whole life and can swim pretty well.  But I'm actually a lazy swimmer and usually prefer swimming on my back & just letting my legs do most of the work.  I can swim forever that way. 




JLee

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Re: Has anyone learned to swim as an adult?
« Reply #35 on: August 15, 2022, 12:18:18 PM »
I learned to swim as a teenager and was never great at it - and was also terrified of deep water, but I did get my open water SCUBA certification in my 30's.  You can do it!

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Re: Has anyone learned to swim as an adult?
« Reply #36 on: August 15, 2022, 04:32:32 PM »
I've been around water my whole life and can swim pretty well.  But I'm actually a lazy swimmer and usually prefer swimming on my back & just letting my legs do most of the work.  I can swim forever that way.

I’m a now-retired upper echelon competitive swimmer, and I hate kicking. I dreaded kick sets. Technically I can kick just fine, but it always seems a slow and inefficient way of getting across the pool. Like telling a runner s/he has to hop backwards.

wenchsenior

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Re: Has anyone learned to swim as an adult?
« Reply #37 on: August 17, 2022, 09:25:58 AM »
I've been around water my whole life and can swim pretty well.  But I'm actually a lazy swimmer and usually prefer swimming on my back & just letting my legs do most of the work.  I can swim forever that way.

I’m a now-retired upper echelon competitive swimmer, and I hate kicking. I dreaded kick sets. Technically I can kick just fine, but it always seems a slow and inefficient way of getting across the pool. Like telling a runner s/he has to hop backwards.

I hate kicking drills, too. And I'm built very slender and 'weedy', and my glutes naturally want to do NOTHING in regard to any kind of activity.  This is why I'm fairly fast b/c my strokes are technically decent, and I have broad (though skinny) shoulders, which helps. But training my lower body to any real power is a struggle.

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Re: Has anyone learned to swim as an adult?
« Reply #38 on: August 17, 2022, 10:25:42 AM »
I've been around water my whole life and can swim pretty well.  But I'm actually a lazy swimmer and usually prefer swimming on my back & just letting my legs do most of the work.  I can swim forever that way.

I’m a now-retired upper echelon competitive swimmer, and I hate kicking. I dreaded kick sets. Technically I can kick just fine, but it always seems a slow and inefficient way of getting across the pool. Like telling a runner s/he has to hop backwards.

I hate kicking drills, too. And I'm built very slender and 'weedy', and my glutes naturally want to do NOTHING in regard to any kind of activity.  This is why I'm fairly fast b/c my strokes are technically decent, and I have broad (though skinny) shoulders, which helps. But training my lower body to any real power is a struggle.




Kicking is a breeze when you're on your back.  It barely takes any effort to stay afloat, and only a little more to progress along at a leisurely pace. 

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Re: Has anyone learned to swim as an adult?
« Reply #39 on: August 17, 2022, 12:00:41 PM »
I've been around water my whole life and can swim pretty well.  But I'm actually a lazy swimmer and usually prefer swimming on my back & just letting my legs do most of the work.  I can swim forever that way.

I’m a now-retired upper echelon competitive swimmer, and I hate kicking. I dreaded kick sets. Technically I can kick just fine, but it always seems a slow and inefficient way of getting across the pool. Like telling a runner s/he has to hop backwards.

I hate kicking drills, too. And I'm built very slender and 'weedy', and my glutes naturally want to do NOTHING in regard to any kind of activity.  This is why I'm fairly fast b/c my strokes are technically decent, and I have broad (though skinny) shoulders, which helps. But training my lower body to any real power is a struggle.




Kicking is a breeze when you're on your back.  It barely takes any effort to stay afloat, and only a little more to progress along at a leisurely pace.

Yeah, it's just not in my DNA to do "leisurely" I suppose.  Which is why kicking frustrates me so.  I can kick 100 yards faster than most non-competitive swimmers can swim it, but to me it feels dreadfully slow, and inefficient, and i hate it.

wenchsenior

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Re: Has anyone learned to swim as an adult?
« Reply #40 on: August 17, 2022, 04:50:17 PM »
I've been around water my whole life and can swim pretty well.  But I'm actually a lazy swimmer and usually prefer swimming on my back & just letting my legs do most of the work.  I can swim forever that way.

I’m a now-retired upper echelon competitive swimmer, and I hate kicking. I dreaded kick sets. Technically I can kick just fine, but it always seems a slow and inefficient way of getting across the pool. Like telling a runner s/he has to hop backwards.

I hate kicking drills, too. And I'm built very slender and 'weedy', and my glutes naturally want to do NOTHING in regard to any kind of activity.  This is why I'm fairly fast b/c my strokes are technically decent, and I have broad (though skinny) shoulders, which helps. But training my lower body to any real power is a struggle.




Kicking is a breeze when you're on your back.  It barely takes any effort to stay afloat, and only a little more to progress along at a leisurely pace.

Not when you need it for backstroke (strong kick is crucial in that stroke to help prevent the dreaded 'ass drag'). I alternate between mentally berating myself for letting my chin drop and berating myself to kick harder the entire time I do it. And I used to regularly swim it in competition, fairly successfully.  Ugh...not relaxing for me at all. Although, for this reason I rarely do kicking drills on my back, which I clearly should.

Malcat

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Re: Has anyone learned to swim as an adult?
« Reply #41 on: August 24, 2022, 07:35:22 PM »
I've been around water my whole life and can swim pretty well.  But I'm actually a lazy swimmer and usually prefer swimming on my back & just letting my legs do most of the work.  I can swim forever that way.

I’m a now-retired upper echelon competitive swimmer, and I hate kicking. I dreaded kick sets. Technically I can kick just fine, but it always seems a slow and inefficient way of getting across the pool. Like telling a runner s/he has to hop backwards.

I hate kicking drills, too. And I'm built very slender and 'weedy', and my glutes naturally want to do NOTHING in regard to any kind of activity.  This is why I'm fairly fast b/c my strokes are technically decent, and I have broad (though skinny) shoulders, which helps. But training my lower body to any real power is a struggle.




Kicking is a breeze when you're on your back.  It barely takes any effort to stay afloat, and only a little more to progress along at a leisurely pace.

Yeah, it's just not in my DNA to do "leisurely" I suppose.  Which is why kicking frustrates me so.  I can kick 100 yards faster than most non-competitive swimmers can swim it, but to me it feels dreadfully slow, and inefficient, and i hate it.

Lol, this reminds me of an amazingly absurd conversation I had with a patient. I was in the process of losing a lot of weight and she came in for an appointment and noticed how much leaner I was. She was interested in what I had done, and like everyone, assumed I had done some kind of hardcore exercise.

I said that I never exercised very vigorously thanks to my injuries, certainly not enough to lose a ton of weight, but that I had recently taken up doing laps in the pool. She thought it was awesome that I took up swimming until I explained that I was just doing nice slow, kick laps with a snorkel.

She looked horrified and said "Ugh, that's so slow"
and I was like "sure, but I'm just doing laps in a pool"
she grimaced and said "but slow laps"
I said "uh...okay...but fast or slow, who cares? It's not like I time myself"
Aghast she said "You don't???"
and I dumbfounded replied "Why would I?"
Still shocked she said "Well then what's the point of doing laps???"
I stared at her with a confused-dog-head-tilt and said simply "Exercise?"

This conversation then proceeds to get bloody bizarre as she starts talking about how she used to be a competitive swimmer, but since she stopped competing, she's gotten obese, and she knows she needs to exercise, but hates the gym. She says she wishes she was still swimming.

I said 'You could just...swim"
she looks at me puzzled and says "But I'm.not training for anything." To which I repeat slower "But you could just...swim."
Frustrated she insists "But I'm not training for anything!"
With brow furrowed I say "So because you are not training for anything, there's no point in swimming. But you love swimming, and hate the gym, and really wish you could exercise more, like when you were swimming."
"Right" she replies, as if I'm a moron who is finally understanding basic logic.

I stop for a good long pause and then say "But if you love swimming, and want to exercise, like when you were swimming, then even though you aren't training for an event, you could just do laps every day and get exercise."

"But I don't have anything to train for!" As if I'm the dumbest cow in the world.

"Sure...but you can still literally swim right? Like, you haven't lost the ability?"
"Well yeah"
"And swimming is great exercise?"
"Obviously."
"And you want to exercise more."
"Yeah, I need to lose weight."
"And you hate the gym."
"Hate it."
"Sooooo...why can't you just do some laps in the pool for fun and exercise? Just as an alternative to the gym?"

She then paused for a long time and looked me straight in the eye and said 'If I'm not training for an event, there's no point in swimming."

At this point I just gave up. But it became an inside joke with my assistant for years. Every time a patient says something patently absurd, one of us will comment to the other afterwards "But I can't swim because I'm not training for anything!"

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Re: Has anyone learned to swim as an adult?
« Reply #42 on: August 25, 2022, 04:45:09 AM »
I've been around water my whole life and can swim pretty well.  But I'm actually a lazy swimmer and usually prefer swimming on my back & just letting my legs do most of the work.  I can swim forever that way.

I’m a now-retired upper echelon competitive swimmer, and I hate kicking. I dreaded kick sets. Technically I can kick just fine, but it always seems a slow and inefficient way of getting across the pool. Like telling a runner s/he has to hop backwards.

I hate kicking drills, too. And I'm built very slender and 'weedy', and my glutes naturally want to do NOTHING in regard to any kind of activity.  This is why I'm fairly fast b/c my strokes are technically decent, and I have broad (though skinny) shoulders, which helps. But training my lower body to any real power is a struggle.




Kicking is a breeze when you're on your back.  It barely takes any effort to stay afloat, and only a little more to progress along at a leisurely pace.

Yeah, it's just not in my DNA to do "leisurely" I suppose.  Which is why kicking frustrates me so.  I can kick 100 yards faster than most non-competitive swimmers can swim it, but to me it feels dreadfully slow, and inefficient, and i hate it.

Lol, this reminds me of an amazingly absurd conversation I had with a patient. I was in the process of losing a lot of weight and she came in for an appointment and noticed how much leaner I was. She was interested in what I had done, and like everyone, assumed I had done some kind of hardcore exercise.

I said that I never exercised very vigorously thanks to my injuries, certainly not enough to lose a ton of weight, but that I had recently taken up doing laps in the pool. She thought it was awesome that I took up swimming until I explained that I was just doing nice slow, kick laps with a snorkel.

She looked horrified and said "Ugh, that's so slow"
and I was like "sure, but I'm just doing laps in a pool"
she grimaced and said "but slow laps"
I said "uh...okay...but fast or slow, who cares? It's not like I time myself"
Aghast she said "You don't???"
and I dumbfounded replied "Why would I?"
Still shocked she said "Well then what's the point of doing laps???"
I stared at her with a confused-dog-head-tilt and said simply "Exercise?"

This conversation then proceeds to get bloody bizarre as she starts talking about how she used to be a competitive swimmer, but since she stopped competing, she's gotten obese, and she knows she needs to exercise, but hates the gym. She says she wishes she was still swimming.

I said 'You could just...swim"
she looks at me puzzled and says "But I'm.not training for anything." To which I repeat slower "But you could just...swim."
Frustrated she insists "But I'm not training for anything!"
With brow furrowed I say "So because you are not training for anything, there's no point in swimming. But you love swimming, and hate the gym, and really wish you could exercise more, like when you were swimming."
"Right" she replies, as if I'm a moron who is finally understanding basic logic.

I stop for a good long pause and then say "But if you love swimming, and want to exercise, like when you were swimming, then even though you aren't training for an event, you could just do laps every day and get exercise."

"But I don't have anything to train for!" As if I'm the dumbest cow in the world.

"Sure...but you can still literally swim right? Like, you haven't lost the ability?"
"Well yeah"
"And swimming is great exercise?"
"Obviously."
"And you want to exercise more."
"Yeah, I need to lose weight."
"And you hate the gym."
"Hate it."
"Sooooo...why can't you just do some laps in the pool for fun and exercise? Just as an alternative to the gym?"

She then paused for a long time and looked me straight in the eye and said 'If I'm not training for an event, there's no point in swimming."

At this point I just gave up. But it became an inside joke with my assistant for years. Every time a patient says something patently absurd, one of us will comment to the other afterwards "But I can't swim because I'm not training for anything!"

Lol - yeah, I’ve encountered this, and can even empathize with your patient to some degree. 

Being hiighly competitive in an activity for many years changes it for you, particularly if it involves racing . It re-wires your brain. For well over a decade I had coaches yelling and me, urging me to swim fast and race.  Every set had a purpose, ever practice was built on a certain goal, and every season I was working towards an specific event (or a couple of events) to be raced at a particular meet in the not-too-distance future. Ultimately absolutely everything you did was supposed to be for that goal or it was considered goofing off.  The micromanaging wasn’t contained to your performance in practice. Coaches would constantly as what I was eating, when I was going to bed, and if whatever relationship I happened to be in was ‘distracting me’ from that one sacred goal of going a few tenths of a second faster in an event a month away. We were even told not to have sex in the days leading up to the big race.

That kind of control leaves a giant mark on your psyche. Even today, a decade out from retiring as a competitive swimmer I feel a mixture of guilt and boredom if I swim a few laps and don’t start pushing my heart-rate into the anaerobic zone. I love to swim, just love floating in the water, and yet I will feel guilty if I just bob up and down for 30 minutes for fun.  I can’t help but count yardage, and I do much better when I can find someone who’s vaguely my speed to swim against. Like a perverse Jeckylle and Hyde, I feel like i wasted so much of my youth being ‘forced’ to swim painful sets and I have an aversion to putting mysel in that situation anymore - yet left alone I feel guilty for ‘goofing off’ and ‘wasting time’ even though my only reason for going to the pool in teh first place was to relax and swim a few laps.  I’m no where near as mental as that patient you describe, but I get the internal monologue that likely goes through her head anytime she considers swimming or doing just about any other physical activity.



@Malcat - the only response I could see working in that situation would have been to suggest some race - preferably an open-water long-distance - which she could fixate on. My former teammates and I have observed that most ex elite swimmers parse out into two categories: fat-and-slow (relative to their ‘former sleves’) or ‘race-junkies’.    The ‘fat-and-slow’ types may look normal to everyone else (though some become obese when their metabolism hits the skids after ceasing training for 3+ hours each day… perhaps what happened with your patient), but they struggle to have any regimented exercise.  The ‘race-junkie’ just bounces from race to race, and occasionally change sports entirely, but they are always managing their lives around a not-to-distant race.  They keep the internal monologue of training a core part of who they are, for better or worse. As with all competitors, it requires a great deal of selfishness.  If they can’t train for some event (due to injury or life-circumstances like a new baby) they flounder.

Tl;dr - high end competitive athletics can really screw up your body and your mind long after you quit.

wenchsenior

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Re: Has anyone learned to swim as an adult?
« Reply #43 on: August 25, 2022, 12:40:20 PM »
I've been around water my whole life and can swim pretty well.  But I'm actually a lazy swimmer and usually prefer swimming on my back & just letting my legs do most of the work.  I can swim forever that way.

I’m a now-retired upper echelon competitive swimmer, and I hate kicking. I dreaded kick sets. Technically I can kick just fine, but it always seems a slow and inefficient way of getting across the pool. Like telling a runner s/he has to hop backwards.

I hate kicking drills, too. And I'm built very slender and 'weedy', and my glutes naturally want to do NOTHING in regard to any kind of activity.  This is why I'm fairly fast b/c my strokes are technically decent, and I have broad (though skinny) shoulders, which helps. But training my lower body to any real power is a struggle.




Kicking is a breeze when you're on your back.  It barely takes any effort to stay afloat, and only a little more to progress along at a leisurely pace.

Yeah, it's just not in my DNA to do "leisurely" I suppose.  Which is why kicking frustrates me so.  I can kick 100 yards faster than most non-competitive swimmers can swim it, but to me it feels dreadfully slow, and inefficient, and i hate it.

Lol, this reminds me of an amazingly absurd conversation I had with a patient. I was in the process of losing a lot of weight and she came in for an appointment and noticed how much leaner I was. She was interested in what I had done, and like everyone, assumed I had done some kind of hardcore exercise.

I said that I never exercised very vigorously thanks to my injuries, certainly not enough to lose a ton of weight, but that I had recently taken up doing laps in the pool. She thought it was awesome that I took up swimming until I explained that I was just doing nice slow, kick laps with a snorkel.

She looked horrified and said "Ugh, that's so slow"
and I was like "sure, but I'm just doing laps in a pool"
she grimaced and said "but slow laps"
I said "uh...okay...but fast or slow, who cares? It's not like I time myself"
Aghast she said "You don't???"
and I dumbfounded replied "Why would I?"
Still shocked she said "Well then what's the point of doing laps???"
I stared at her with a confused-dog-head-tilt and said simply "Exercise?"

This conversation then proceeds to get bloody bizarre as she starts talking about how she used to be a competitive swimmer, but since she stopped competing, she's gotten obese, and she knows she needs to exercise, but hates the gym. She says she wishes she was still swimming.

I said 'You could just...swim"
she looks at me puzzled and says "But I'm.not training for anything." To which I repeat slower "But you could just...swim."
Frustrated she insists "But I'm not training for anything!"
With brow furrowed I say "So because you are not training for anything, there's no point in swimming. But you love swimming, and hate the gym, and really wish you could exercise more, like when you were swimming."
"Right" she replies, as if I'm a moron who is finally understanding basic logic.

I stop for a good long pause and then say "But if you love swimming, and want to exercise, like when you were swimming, then even though you aren't training for an event, you could just do laps every day and get exercise."

"But I don't have anything to train for!" As if I'm the dumbest cow in the world.

"Sure...but you can still literally swim right? Like, you haven't lost the ability?"
"Well yeah"
"And swimming is great exercise?"
"Obviously."
"And you want to exercise more."
"Yeah, I need to lose weight."
"And you hate the gym."
"Hate it."
"Sooooo...why can't you just do some laps in the pool for fun and exercise? Just as an alternative to the gym?"

She then paused for a long time and looked me straight in the eye and said 'If I'm not training for an event, there's no point in swimming."

At this point I just gave up. But it became an inside joke with my assistant for years. Every time a patient says something patently absurd, one of us will comment to the other afterwards "But I can't swim because I'm not training for anything!"

Lol - yeah, I’ve encountered this, and can even empathize with your patient to some degree. 

Being hiighly competitive in an activity for many years changes it for you, particularly if it involves racing . It re-wires your brain. For well over a decade I had coaches yelling and me, urging me to swim fast and race.  Every set had a purpose, ever practice was built on a certain goal, and every season I was working towards an specific event (or a couple of events) to be raced at a particular meet in the not-too-distance future. Ultimately absolutely everything you did was supposed to be for that goal or it was considered goofing off.  The micromanaging wasn’t contained to your performance in practice. Coaches would constantly as what I was eating, when I was going to bed, and if whatever relationship I happened to be in was ‘distracting me’ from that one sacred goal of going a few tenths of a second faster in an event a month away. We were even told not to have sex in the days leading up to the big race.

That kind of control leaves a giant mark on your psyche. Even today, a decade out from retiring as a competitive swimmer I feel a mixture of guilt and boredom if I swim a few laps and don’t start pushing my heart-rate into the anaerobic zone. I love to swim, just love floating in the water, and yet I will feel guilty if I just bob up and down for 30 minutes for fun.  I can’t help but count yardage, and I do much better when I can find someone who’s vaguely my speed to swim against. Like a perverse Jeckylle and Hyde, I feel like i wasted so much of my youth being ‘forced’ to swim painful sets and I have an aversion to putting mysel in that situation anymore - yet left alone I feel guilty for ‘goofing off’ and ‘wasting time’ even though my only reason for going to the pool in teh first place was to relax and swim a few laps.  I’m no where near as mental as that patient you describe, but I get the internal monologue that likely goes through her head anytime she considers swimming or doing just about any other physical activity.



@Malcat - the only response I could see working in that situation would have been to suggest some race - preferably an open-water long-distance - which she could fixate on. My former teammates and I have observed that most ex elite swimmers parse out into two categories: fat-and-slow (relative to their ‘former sleves’) or ‘race-junkies’.    The ‘fat-and-slow’ types may look normal to everyone else (though some become obese when their metabolism hits the skids after ceasing training for 3+ hours each day… perhaps what happened with your patient), but they struggle to have any regimented exercise.  The ‘race-junkie’ just bounces from race to race, and occasionally change sports entirely, but they are always managing their lives around a not-to-distant race.  They keep the internal monologue of training a core part of who they are, for better or worse. As with all competitors, it requires a great deal of selfishness.  If they can’t train for some event (due to injury or life-circumstances like a new baby) they flounder.

Tl;dr - high end competitive athletics can really screw up your body and your mind long after you quit.

This is both hilarious and horrifying.  What I find is that if I'm in a pool with actual lap lanes, the urge is to at least swim steadily for  at least 30 minutes or I feel I'm 'not doing it right/wasting valuable pool time', but I don't have that same response to open water swimming, or swimming smaller or non-lap-equipped pools.

But yeah, I have a touch of this. One reason to be glad I didn't pursue competitive swimming into college.

LeftA

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Re: Has anyone learned to swim as an adult?
« Reply #44 on: September 01, 2022, 05:47:42 PM »
OP here. I thought I’d post an update. Had my first lesson this evening. It went very well. I’m pumped and feel that I CAN learn to swim! Thanks for all who encouraged me when I first posted!

nereo

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Re: Has anyone learned to swim as an adult?
« Reply #45 on: September 01, 2022, 06:08:50 PM »
OP here. I thought I’d post an update. Had my first lesson this evening. It went very well. I’m pumped and feel that I CAN learn to swim! Thanks for all who encouraged me when I first posted!

That’s awesome!  Keep at it!

partgypsy

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Re: Has anyone learned to swim as an adult?
« Reply #46 on: September 01, 2022, 06:39:47 PM »
Great news!

wenchsenior

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Re: Has anyone learned to swim as an adult?
« Reply #47 on: September 02, 2022, 11:11:16 AM »
OP here. I thought I’d post an update. Had my first lesson this evening. It went very well. I’m pumped and feel that I CAN learn to swim! Thanks for all who encouraged me when I first posted!

YES!

lollylegs

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Re: Has anyone learned to swim as an adult?
« Reply #48 on: September 04, 2022, 04:23:00 AM »
OP here. I thought I’d post an update. Had my first lesson this evening. It went very well. I’m pumped and feel that I CAN learn to swim! Thanks for all who encouraged me when I first posted!

Thats wonderful!! well done!

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Re: Has anyone learned to swim as an adult?
« Reply #49 on: September 22, 2022, 05:32:29 PM »
OP here. Quick update. Just got back from my third lesson.

I floated on my back unassisted for almost 2 minutes!! I only stopped because the lesson time was up! I also swam 3 laps the length of the pool and put my head in the water!

My instructor says I’m really progressing very well for 3 30 minute lessons. I’m really pleased.

 

Wow, a phone plan for fifteen bucks!