Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Learning To Swim As An Adult - Peter's Experience (Part 2)

Last time I introduce you to Peter, one of my adult swimmers. I think that his experience could be very helpful to others learning to swim as an adult.

Learning To Swim As An Adult - The Real Start

Fear is not always rational and last time Peter covered the extent of his fear of the water and the effort he had go to in order to avoid swimming.

What was it that triggered Peter to tackle Swimming?

Well you'll just have to read the last post?

Here is Peter with his first lesson


My First Lesson

My first lesson was mid Oct 2008, I was very nervous when I arrived to the pool. There were three adults in my class all of them could float and swim a short distance, while all I could do was stand there. I initially thought the lesson was for 1 hour, so when I found out it was only for 1/2 hour I was immediately relieved, and thought, only half as much time to be terrified.

Our instructor was a lovely young lady, I will call her “Miss”. She whizzed around and asked us all a couple of questions about our swimming history and ability, she very quickly “instructed us” to put on our goggles grab a kick board, put our face in the water and start kicking, as if we had been doing this all our lives.

I Thought You Have Got To Be Kidding

I thought you have got to be kidding ! How can I do this ? The others managed to do this drill quite well and then did some basic breaststroke, backstroke, and a few other exercises. I just struggled with my feet firmly planted on the bottom of the pool and pretended to kick and put my head in the water etc. I hated doing this. I was very uncomfortable and uneasy and felt I was getting no “coaching”, practical advice or support from Miss, who did not understand my situation, and who was more preoccupied with instructing the others who could do something in the water.

The best part of the half hour lesson was when it ended. I thought to myself, I will never ever learn to swim and that Miss’s style was not right for me, but felt I should give her one more try next week, and at this point I did not say anything to her or the swimming centre management. But I thought this might have been a big Miss-take! (Sorry!)

Lesson number 2, came around very quickly, and I was expecting to experience more of the same “torture” and “just do it, I don’t have time to explain” approach from the lovely Miss. This was “make or break time” for me. Same people from last week turned up, we were starting to get know each other, and we were all still nervous.

To our surprise Miss did not turn up. (I was not going to miss, Miss! Sorry again!) A more mature gentleman called Richard introduced himself and said he would be our new instructor for the rest of the term. Great I thought, a fresh start.

Grouped Us Accordingly

Richard started again, asking us all what swimming experience we had. Unlike Miss, he was actually listening to everyone, and he then grouped us accordingly.

Learning To Swim As An Adult Part 2: an Image of a mail swimmer doing confident freestyle in the pool
From Adult Non Swimmer To Swimmer
When I told him my history, he immediately smiled and nodded and it was clear to me he understood my situation, my fears and what was going on inside my head. We spoke a lot in the beginning, and he explained a lot of simple things like, how to put the goggles on properly to ensure they were comfortable and did not leak, what it would feel like to put our head under water, and what happened when you got water up your nose, in your ears, mouth etc.

In general, every-time he was planning for us to do a new drill or skill Richard would tell us what to expect and what may happen. This was great as it took away some of the fear factor and uncertainty, by preparing us for what to expect.

I still spent the entire half hour with my feet still fixed to the bottom, but I came away from that second lesson feeling more confident that eventually I could learn something because Richard understood me, and would give the right guidance and support and most importantly, I felt I could trust him. He was not just an “instructor” like Miss, he was also a “coach”, and somehow who knew what was going on inside my head.

Next time Richard becomes pushy

Enjoy
Richard

Enjoy
   Richard

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