Thursday, December 17, 2009

From Adult Non Swimmer To Swimmer - Mairead



Mairead was one of my adult swim students who's story I thought was a nice contrast to Peter's. More than that, I think that having the two different stories not only provides some gender balance but also you get to see just how many things are held in common by all beginner adult swimmers. 

Please read Mairead's tip at the end and compare them to Peter's swimming tips. I think you will be impress by the similarities especially since the two of them wrote their pieces for me, independently of each other. There was no opportunity for colusion.

The rest of this post is in Mairead's own words:

Having grown up without ever learning to swim I made one attempt to learn in my twenties.

For my first lesson I was given flippers to wear and told to get in the pool with a group of other adults and told to stretch out and kick while holding onto the bars. It was a disastrous experience for me, so after that I put swimming on the back burner. Although not being able to swim was something I felt I lacked, especially when on seaside holidays and not being able to swim with my family and seeing everyone else going in for a dip while I looked after their towels, mobiles, drinks etc. Or, seeing them cooling off in the water or, not being able to take advantage of the pools in motels/hotels on steaming hot days.

After reading in January in the Age newspaper a story about a 40 something woman in Williamstown who had learned to swim the previous year I was motivated by her story and decided to add that goal to my new year resolutions (with a bit of prompting from my husband) for 2009.

Roberts St swimming centre is just down the road from me and I had dropped in a few times the previous year to see what it was like and my 7 year old daughter who had switched centres to swim there was enjoying it. Although I was always careful not to stand too close to the edge of the pool.

I started lessons in late January one evening a week and my aim was to be swimming by year end. Mark was my first swimming instructor and was guiding me from the sidelines while also coaching the adult squads. For someone who had rarely been in a swimsuit not to mention water I soon found out it's best to have a teacher in the pool to guide and assist you. I started off ok walking up and down the 25 meter pool and putting my face in the water. When Mark asked me to throw myself backwards into the water or use a noodle to help me get my feet off the pool floor he might as well have asked me to fly to the moon! After a couple of these classes we agreed I should come to the adult classes he was running on Saturdays as he was in the pool during these lessons.

Mark ran the lessons for a few weeks until Amy his replacement took over.

I initially wondered how she would support me in the water as I was a lot heavier than her but I was worrying unnecessary. I practiced floating and kicking with a noodle and kickboard while Amy pulled the kickboard or noodle along. Sometimes we had another adult in the class. One particular adult was making really good progress and I felt I was not really progressing as well as I would have liked. I complimented him on his progress and he told me he was determined to be swimming before his next holiday. And he also practiced what he was taught in each lesson by going to the pool at least twice a  made a little progress by the time the next class came around. I then started to use the kick board and noodle on my own to practice my kicking and prone gliding. Then Amy told me she would be going overseas around Easter and that I would be getting a new teacher.

I was quite comfortable with Amy and thought 'oh no now I have to get used to someone/they have to get used to me' etc. Richard was my new teacher and started the class by asking me to show him where I was at and his relaxed attitude soon flowed onto me.

Under Richards’s tuition I have learned to float. This took quite a few weeks and at different stages I did wonder if I would ever accomplish it. Richard reminded me quite a few times that I had over 40 years of fears/phobias about the water to unlearn so I needed to be patient and to keep plugging away. When I was honest with myself I admitted that apart from floating with Richard’s assistance in class I only ever practiced floating for a couple of minutes when practicing on my own as I was more comfortable working on my breaststroke arms and flutter kicks as I felt more in control doing these.

One week in July I decided to concentrate on floating every time I was practicing in the pool with the aim of being able to float unaided by the end of that week. I succeeded! Finally I was floating!

Then I progressed to the survival backstroke and after a lot of practice, swallowing a lot of chlorinated water, and bumping into the lane dividers and Richard’s encouragement and advice on steering I managed a 25 meter lap of that in August. Next I progressed to the backstroke and completed a lap of that last week.

I'm progressing well with my breaststroke and am now working on the freestyle stroke and breathing properly which appears to be as big a challenge as floating.


Six things I think that have helped me progress this far are:

- A relaxed, patient, and positive teacher who demonstrates what you need to do

- Learning to swim in a small class - usually it is just me or one other person.

- Practice, practice, practice - it's true the more you do the better you become.

- Set mini goals along the way.

- Be patient with yourself and recognise your achievements

- The water in the pool is not as deep as I initially thought! (Once I mastered floating.)

Next time: "Help Someone Learn to Swim Freestyle - the Right way"

Enjoy
Richard

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