Posted in achievement, Change, Commitment, Debate, goals, Learning, Liberation, Personal Growth, Psychology, Skills, Sport, Thoughts

Swimming Lessons

This blog’s purpose is to create a diary of my progress, as far as my new year resolution is concerned.

For those of you who may have read Conquering fear, I am trying to learn to swim. I hope this is going to help me explore my fears as well as providing a brief running commentary on how I am progressing. I am not saying this will be interesting to everybody, but it could be useful to some who may be trying to face similar or other fears and demons.

Lesson two: Yesterday.

After the first lesson which had been very successful, this next one was full of optimism but also reservation. I learnt one thing very important yesterday. Your mind really can make you or break you. My lesson went terribly BADLY. It was awful. I was once again crippled with fear and doubts: my new found optimism was soon deflated like a rubber ring. The barriers of progress was up and I was once again crippled and confined to being on the steps, where I had first started and had soon taken off with my float, only to be flung back there with my negativity and doubt.

I was frustrated and wanted to cry, the water mingling with my tears, but I would not let anyone really see how down and upset I felt, even though I wanted to give up there and then.

“Why was I doing this. It is all for nothing. I will never do it.” I said to myself.

I could not understand. I was swimming with my waddle(sausage like float) last week and had managed widths with my new-found breast stroke. Now I was just drowning again, hoping along the floor, full of panic;my body rigid, full of fear.

The teacher said this can happen. It did not make me feel any better though. A lady who learnt to swim in two lessons was nervous but managing fairly well.

Why did this happen?

Because I did not believe; in-spite of having done it the week before with – ok the help of my float. The water loomed before me and the wall at the far end seemed so far away.

I panicked and sank; and splashed and sank; and gasped and sank.

The reasons why were: one I was tired. two: I felt flat and down even before I even got into the pool. I was still  looking fore-ward to my lesson though.

If, I give up now then that is it. Soon flunked out again. But I can’t, I just can’t.

So next week I am coming off the step and doing it what ever. It’s still only with a float but the worse thing that can happen is I sink, only a small way. It is very shallow where I am. I have to learn to sink and not be afraid, only then will I learn to float and hold my head up high.

The only thing that is stopping me is my head. I did it last week, but not this week.I have heard a theory that when you are closer to success your psyche stops you from winning. It’s like you saying to yourself. You don’t deserve to succeed. You know you are a failure, you’re no good. Like a self -fulling prophecy.

Tomorrow is another year of my life which is about to commence. This is the last year for me that I can not swim. It has to be. For the old has gone and the new person is here. My brain just has to get used to it that’s all.

But for now my husband and the dishes call me. I have had a dinner party for three of my girlfriends to celebrate my birthday tomorrow and it was a very lovely evening. The fears of swimming disloved in some wine and a rather nice salmon. Let’s hope the salmon within me can do a better job next week. 

Lesson three here I come!

30th January: Lesson Three.

Here I not come. Minor illness has prevented me from attending but I will be back next week.

6th February: Lesson Four.

I was determined not to go back to the graduated steps (where you start out in your efforts to float in an inch or two of water with the floor right beneath you and the step to hold onto when you panic.) I soon realised once I was in the water that I would have to go back there, just to start off.

Overall, the lesson was better. I was feeling less down about the whole thing and more positive. My instructor could not be with me because she was supervising some swimming tests in the big pool but another woman from the club came along to help me and my new acquaintance ( she has been on the steps since xmas.) We both discussed our fears together and encouraged each other along.

I managed to do two/three strokes to the steps, with my float of course, but still couldn’t manage week one’s success on my front. What I did achieve is to swim on my back, on my own with my waddle. My family came in to watch the last few minutes and I showed them what I could do. I have learnt to stand up from lying down, so I don’t feel half so panicky about being on my back now.

Finally, Dave the sole male instructor was watching me. He said I try too hard and am fighting with the water all the time. Less effort is required from me and I must learn to stop struggling and learn to relax more. He said I must ditch my waddle soon and I needed some instruction from him.

Fear is terrible and it is so hard. Before my back stroke success, doubts just come all too readily. My will-power to push myself beyond fear is not very easy. Still not a disaster like last time but still not back to where I was at the start at week one.

Strange thing your head. I know it is this alone that holds me back. I realise I have also put myself under enormous pressure to do this, by stating on here my intentions. If success never materialises I would have publicly failed as well as privately. I don’t know which would be worse.

Better plod on then!

13th February:Lesson Five:

 I have decided not to continue to blog about this as it is too much pressure for me to perform. It seemed a good idea at the time, a kind of diary but one of my contacts have talked it over with me on e-mail and she is right.

I just need to plod on on my own for a bit. I do so want to do this and feel my chances are about between 50 and 60%. I still have many doubts and fears but I am very determined and committed.

Tonight I have concentrated on getting more confident with my waddle on my back. Also, the effort to go back on my front is proving hard but can now manage about two strokes up to the steps with my float. The instructor was concentrating on my confidence on my front by getting me to hold her and an extra float and just kicking with my feet. We did this a few times.

The fear is extreme and nothing seems easy but I do enjoy going however, hard it is. Apparently, there is no average length of time to learn. The lady who mastered swimming in two lessons is now in the big pool, having just completed 25 metres while my other acquaintance is still near the steps.

Funny thing fear. It plays all sorts of tricks and I’m now well aware that what you can do one week wouldn’t necessarily be repeated the next.

If, I have any significant breakthrough I will be definetly posting it.

Wish me luck!


I have always cared about health and education and have worked in both settings. Now I like to walk, love visiting church buildings and connecting with nature and its weather. I teach medical English as well as being a novice piano player. My dream is to play the organ.

7 thoughts on “Swimming Lessons

  1. I am sorry that lesson 2 was so traumatic for you. You know that your thinking influences how you feel and what you do, and remember, you are fighting a life-time of thinking about swimming and water in a particular way. So hang on in there!

    Remember too what it was like learning to drive, or learning any new skill. There were often set-backs and disaster days and times when you said: “Why am I bothering?” Yet, you do those skills now automatically. Swimming will soon be like that. 🙂

  2. Thanks. I think you are so right about fighting a life-time of thinking. I am not used to not having something to hang onto, or to be grounded by foot. I need to overcome the fear of being suspended in water, with nothing to cling onto to.

  3. It is very brave to try to conquer something like this. I admire you.

    Is your worst fear going under? Getting your face submerged? Perhaps if you deal with that then the rest won’t feel so bad? I only say that, because when I was learning to ski on the dry slope (and I too was petrified not being one for heights) I realised after a while that the reason I was so scared every time and couldn’t relax or anything was because I was transfixed by the idea of falling (and how much it would hurt). After I actually fell, and yes, it did hurt, I realised that actually that was the worst that could happen and it wasn’t THAT bad and whilst I wouldn’t say my fear went or that I got better straight away, it helped a great deal. When they teach small children to swim, they concentrate first on getting them confident about water on their faces etc.

    But I swim like giraffe – keeping my head as far out of the water as possible!

    Good luck. I will keep visiting to see how you are progressing.

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