It is that time of year again. The sun is out, the temperature is up there, and that sparkling pool is calling your name. There are invites to pool parties, lakeside bar-b-que’s, and trips to the beach coming your way, and you want to crawl in a hole and hide because you don’t swim. It could be that you just never learned, but it could be aquaphobia. Anyone can say, “Just learn to swim.” Sounds simple enough. It isn’t though, is it? It isn’t something you want to share with the world, but it goes deeper than just not knowing how to swim. The water terrifies you. You can’t pinpoint what it is about it, but something keeps you from diving right in, or even thinking about wanting to.
It’s ok, you aren’t alone. So many people have a fear of water and the range of reasons is about as varied as they are. For me, chlorinated water is less scary, but you get me near a river, lake, or ocean and my palms get sweaty, my head spins, and I want to crawl in a hole and hide. Kind of ironic since I am actively seeking a residence on the beach, but that doesn’t mean I have to go in the water, right? It’s a push in the right direction. I want to deal with the fear so that I can finally, joyfully, accept those invites and enjoy these warm summer months with more than just my toes in the water. I am not an avid swimmer, but I grew up in the dry heat of Phoenix, so I had to get used to swimming pools or dry out. It was a slow process, but now I can at least hover in the deep end
without panicking. Here is a tactic for getting over my fear of swimming in natural water sources.
Give yourself a reason to be where the water is on a regular basis. Not to go in it, but to be around it, and watch. Find a place where other people are there swimming and playing in it. Observe how they interact with the water, how they float and maneuver themselves around in it.
Relax and enjoy the experience
After a few trips, take some baby steps and approach the water. Just the toes. Let the water lap over them and experience the sensation. Go in a little further with each visit. Don’t push yourself, or let anyone else push you, just go at a pace that is comfortable and relaxed.
Focus on the good
Today, the water feels good on my toes, it lowered my body temperature and felt nice. Remind yourself of these things on the way to the next visit. Go with a relaxed and casual attitude, stay as long as it is pleasant, and stay focused on the good parts of the experience.
Remember that the human body is built to float when the lungs are inflated. Breathing normally will maintain buoyancy. Holding your breath prevents your body from regulating air pressure because exhaling empties the lungs completely.