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From Adult Non-Swimmer To Swimmer - One Mans Journey Vol.2 Pt.5

His Journey Till Now

We have been following Peter for some time now. Last time he shared with his his exhilaration experience of swimming at Lady Elliot Island and his over coming of his fear of treading water. He now presents some thoughts about his journey as he has come from a complete and terrified non swimmer to a competent swimmer taking in swimming challenges that he would never have conceived possible when he first stated. Peter puts forward there thoughts as his final thoughts, but I'm not so sure I have read some of his notes and I think he has a lot more to say. Hopefully he will share with us when he get there.

Wait... Get Your Lesson Plans Here


My final thought or Mental Analogy after 14 months of activity in water

I have spent most of this story discussing the physical side of my learning experience and only touched briefly on the mental side. I want to make one final comment about the mental image of water I had for nearly 49 years compared to now.

Up until six months ago if I was in a body of water higher than my shoulders which I could not stand in, I mentally considered it as a “bottomless pit”. I felt I had no way of keeping my body close to or on top of the water and I would just sink to the bottom, never to be able to get back up to the top unassisted. I might as well be jumping off a cliff, if I was in deep water.

In this last 6 months (and due to the many hours I have put in to getting used to this environment that I feared), my mental attitude has dramatically changed I now think of a body of water as a mattress, that I can lie on, float and rest on. It supports ALL of my body. I think of it as a water bed, with imaginary/invisible springs. If I am in a swimming pool, the springs are slightly softer and I sink into the water a little more, and if I am in the sea the same springs are slightly harder and I sit up higher in the water. In both cases, if I remain relaxed, I know it is much harder to go and stay under the water, and I can feel the water below my body always gently supporting me and pushing me up to the surface. Either way I can easily control whether I stay on top of the water or go under it. What a change in thinking !

I hope this analogy explains how my mental attitude and approach to water environments has dramatically changed from shear fear (for nearly 49 years) to being confident (in the last 6 months), but with some caution and respect for the water of course, but without fear.

My Final tips to other adults who cannot swim at all and want to learn:-

∑ I’m a numbers man, so let’s look at how much time I have put in to achieve what I have done so far in my swimming life. Since I started 14 months ago, I have been in the water and swum on average 5 days a week which means a total number of days in the water of 5 x 60 weeks = 300 days with an average swim time of 1 hour = ~ 300 hours. With total lesson time of nearly ~ 30 hours only a tenth of the total swimming time, the rest of the time has been all practice and becoming acclimatized with the environment and the things I have learned.

∑ So whilst many people have said to me that I have achieved a lot in a little time, it has not happened overnight. I have put in plenty of time on most days in order to do it. Nine hours of practice for every 1 hour of lessons overall. I am obsessive, so I don’t expect everyone to put in this level of time and effort in practicing and training.

∑ I believe that a good rule of thumb that everyone should consider when making the commitment to learn how to swim and have lessons, is that for every lesson you should be prepared to put in about 4 to 5 times the lesson time to practice and refine what you are learning, (this is half my ratio of lesson time to practice time). Anything less than this and you will not make sufficient progress, and you may to get disenchanted, and possibly give up.

∑ I have always said to my children, “There are no short cuts in life”, you have to put in the effort and time to succeed at anything you want to do, and at the end you can reap the enjoyment and personal reward of achievement, like I have with swimming which is a skill I will now use and enjoy for the rest of my life !

Milestones along the way that Peter may write on at another time:

∑ Yeronga 50 mtr pool in Brisbane with Greg Kelly. (Dec 09)
∑ Diving Lessons with Kristin at Darwin Army Barracks pool. She showed me the Safety Dive with arms and leg out to keep head above water.
∑ Darwin harbor swimming, wave pool & Florence Falls Litchfield National Park, over Xmas and new Year holidays, no crocs fronted !
∑ Swimming with Clara at Heffron 2/01/10
∑ Down the coast with Vellas week 2 2010.
∑ Swimming at Bay & Basin Pool at Vincentia with Karen.
∑ Seeing under water (seawater) without goggles. Can’t do it.
∑ Swimming in Jervis Bay, Plantation Point & Hyams Beach
∑ Going from ~ 600 mtrs to 1km in Q1 2010. Then 2km in Q2 2010.
∑ Swimming in China, Shanghai and Beijing. (Water temps too hot, no one swims)
∑ Breathing analyzed first week of Feb 10 with Richard. Figured out I need to exhale 3 times faster, based on my ability to take 12 strokes before needing to breathe air, based on the same rate of my normal (current way) of exhalation. I realized I need to blow 3 times harder and this must be concentrated via the mouth not the nose. This is a big change to what I have been used to, which has been a low volume blown mainly out of the nose, due to fear of running out of breath, which I now know just can’t happen.
∑ Feb 07 2010 ocean swimming with flippers off Willy beach, with flippers out to markers and back no problem with some chop and snorkeling.
∑ Feb 09 2010, I was advised by Richard that my breaststroke was 100% OK, and there was no need for further tuition on this. My backstroke is 95% there, only some minor correction to the hand coming over, needs to be more relaxed, and straightness in the arm and speed, slow down. Freestyle improving with pull buoy and butterfly can do with flippers two kicks per stroke and breathing on second stroke.
∑ Starting a program to learn flip turns with noodle, and proper diving technique. Noodle did not work very well, tried to learn without it with Zoltan.
∑ Achieved my first tumble turns (wobbly with arms and legs) on the 13/02/10 with Zoltans help. Improved with no arm movement and tucked in legs on the 16/02/10. Now will try to incorporate into my free style turns.
∑ Zoltans last day with swimming 20/02/10. Met Rachael drinks and lunch at Pelicabs Landing.
∑ Holding breath under water for 25 seconds


Well that's it for Peter. For the time being at least.
I must say that Peter has had one of the most significant learning journeys that I have watched. Coming from a point were to even enter the water was a challenge to were today I watch with some amazement I might add, as he traverses the pool with relative ease.

I have met few people that have faced their fear and challengers with such determination. As I have said many times to people I teach self defense to "fear is both a friend and an enemy, but if you can learn to work with it it will always be your friend". Peter has demonstrated that principal again and again.

Peter said that I said to him that his breaststroke was 100% OK. Whilst this was the second stroke that he managed to gain some mastery over, it is also the one that he has been the most successful at. On reflection I probably should not have said his breaststroke was 100% OK as in swimming there is always room for improvement but it was a reflection of how far he had come. Swimming had become natural to him and his strokes showed it.

Whilst not being the biggest challenge by far the hardest thing that any older swimmer has to overcome is lack of flexibility in their muscles and joints. Fortunately most of this is due to not being relaxed in the water. Once Peter began to relax his swimming improved out of site

Adults don't usually have any difficulty understanding what is required to swim and Peter was no exception. But understanding is only part of the battle. Convincing your body to do what is necessary is a whole new game. After the initial fear this has been Peters biggest and I must say most successful challenge to date.

But most of all I have watched Peter grow. He has told you all the milestones and challenges he has overcome so for me to go over them would diminish them. But watching Peter confront his fear and overcome, and watching the affect that has had on his personality has been and inspiration.

There is a picture which is adopted buy many a judo player as a kind on mascot. It is a picture of a chicken with its head cut off and completely plucked inside the mouth of a Pelican ready to eat it. But the chicken has its hands around the Pelicans throat squeezing with all its might and the caption is "Never give up".

If you give up when you think you are losing you can never win. Peter Never gave up and still keeps going. He cannot hope but to succeed.


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