Swimming is a sport that is not natural to everyone.
Walking, running, biking, all of these are quite easy to master, however, it takes some coordination and stamina to learn how to swim and to top it all off, before we improve our swim technique, we all have a different swimming style based on our physical ability which makes it that much more challenging.
The good news is that everyone can learn how to swim if given the right instructions. Below you will find a few novice tips that will help you conquer the world of water.
Before getting in the water, let's think about a few things.
First, swimming is done in a horizontal position which is not natural for many people. You might say "duh", but wait, read on.
Most beginner swimmers feel disoriented when laying on the water, they sometimes feel as if they will fall down or that they do not have control over their bodies. This causes the swimmer to try to swim over the water raising the upper body a little, therefore not following the horizontal plane. However, this feeling of falling should be overcome as it is not the case. Try to think of it more as laying down into a nice soft bed.
Second, let's stay with the bed analogy. When you lay down to sleep, your body is relaxed, all muscles are loosened up. This is very similar to how you should feel when floating in the water. Believe it or not, but the more relaxed you are the easier it is to stay afloat.
Third, do not use any floating equipment. True, it is easier to kick with a kickboard or rely on some sort of a belt around your waist, however, most folks start getting dependent on the floating equipment and then it is hard to learn to swim the right way.
Fourth, BREATHE. Do not hold your breath. Every time you take a breath and put your face into the water, start slowly exhaling bubbles.
This will relax you and will let you enjoy your swimming exercise that much more.
If you are having trouble breathing, perhaps this drown proofing advice will help.
Fifth, do not be afraid, water is your friend. Many have mastered swimming before you, so why shouldn't you :)...
Now let's get to the good stuff. You are probably asking, so what do I do in the pool? How do I start?
Well, let's see:
1. If you are afraid of the water, you should start by standing up in the shallow end of the pool holding the wall and try to squat, so you get your chin close to the water.
Once you are comfortable, try to go deeper underwater while holding your breath.
Now, don't just go up and down quickly, relax and use nice smooth motion to get up and down.
If that is ok, try to stay with your head submerged for longer. If you have your goggles, open your eyes, look around you and explore the beauty of the underwater world (you are almost like Kevin Costner now).
Try not to wear any floating devices that would help you with floating. Learning to float on your own is the way to go, so right from the beginning, you exercise the correct muscles and body positions.
If you really need to have some sense of security, you can try the 360swim safety product which gives you a peace of mind.
2. Now that you have mastered going underwater, it is time for bubbles.
Squat down holding the wall, so your mouth is submerged and start blowing bubbles through your mouth.
You are still nice and relaxed and going up, taking a breath, and down, blowing bubbles for a few seconds.
Try to increase the time you are under the water blowing bubbles.
The exhaling with bubbles helps you relax by not keeping you too uptight while holding your breath.
You can even count to 5 or any other number while blowing bubbles.
3. It is time you learn how to stand back up from the horizontal swimming position.
You are standing up, your arms are at your side, slowly lay on the water facing down while extending your arms above your head. So you end up laying on the water as a tree log stretching your arms as far forward as possible with your palms down.
Hold your breath (keep your mouth shut :)) and relax. Your body should be flat, the surface of the water should be hitting you on the back of your hair on top of your head, so get that chin toward your chest.
Don't be afraid to even get your head under the water a little.
Whenever you are ready to stand up, slowly bring your knees to your chest while keeping your arms extended forward and head under the water (in other words, you are still lookingat the bottom).
You will notice your body is changing positions from horizontal to vertical.
When your butt starts to sink begin slowly moving your straight arms (palms facing down) from the front above your head, down toward your hips keeping your arms straight. So, they will make nice half a circle.
Then when you are vertical, your face is still in the water, just extend your legs down to the bottom of the pool and rotate your head out of the water (backward).
Now, try it with exhaling (blowing bubbles) when your head is underwater. This will help you relax more.
If you can master all the swimming skills I discussed above, you should be fairly comfortable being in the water.
If not, keep practicing, until you handle 1,2,3 with ease.
Good luck and remember, water is not evil. Don't think too much about it, we all have instincts to survive. :)