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This section we hope will increase your bucket list of travel 10 fold!
We cover many areas here. From the most experienced swimmer, recreational swimmer right on through to the non swimmer and this is where we start. "The non swimmer."
The Non Swimmer
Not being able to swim in this day and age is sadly still quite common for many and really can be quite restricting at times, especially when travelling or joining in on tours.
Many people forgo the occasional snorkelling trip or even just a boat ride because of their fear for water and the many scenarios of “what if I fall in, or the boat sinks” thoughts that rush through your minds.
We have mentioned in this website before about the many advantages of being able to swim and by this we mean taking part in swimming activities like snorkelling, diving, playing in the ocean or even playing volleyball in the swimming pool.
If you cannot swim, the chances are you also have either a fear, phobia of just keep away from water just in case.
There is a misconception, especially if you are at an age of teens or older that you should be able to swim and a feeling of embarrassment that you can’t, so you go nowhere near water to save face. This is exactly the same as not being able to read or write and follows through to say, the expectation that men should be able to service their own car, or that women should be able to cook in the kitchen.
If you are expected to be able to do something then there is this ridiculous stigma attached to not being able to do it, or perception that you should by now in life, be able to do it.
You would be surprised to know that you are not alone and in fact there is a large proportion of you that cannot swim, have phobias, not confident at their swimming abilities or are just not comfortable in the water.
Before we get started on giving you some tips on how to learn how to swim, we must point out that we are not swimming teachers, or have any qualifications to teach or offer any advice in learning how to swim.
We have however taught our children and many other adult friends how to swim, by using the same tips and advice we show below. We also have experience in teaching, through other means that have given us a certain teaching skill set, relevant for conveying information to attain skill levels of how to learn to swim.
We also would like to point out that, like crossing the road, water is as dangerous and as safe as you make it. You wouldn’t cross a busy main road with your eyes shut and carefree, the same as you wouldn’t jump into the middle of the Pacific Ocean and expect to swim to shore.
Common sense and logic comes into play here and “Logic” funnily enough, is our third of three tips to allow you to swim.
If you are planning on learning how to swim of course the best route, is to go and have swimming lessons with a qualified instructor in an environment that is safe, secure and has either a lifeguard or a personal instructor that has your full attention.
Like many people, you might have tried this in the past and it didn’t work. Try to remember the reasons why you think this didn’t work. For example, there were many people in the class and you fell behind, or you didn’t have the one on one you really needed, or you was just too young and scared.
This all comes down to “time” and this is where we start our first tip in learning how to swim.
Our 3 simple steps to learn how to swim!
(This can be achieved in one day but it doesn’t matter how long it takes)
The most important thing to remember. Make sure you have someone with you (competent swimmer.) This can be a best friend, husband or wife, mother or father, someone you feel comfortable knowing that you can not swim.
3 Steps to learn how to swim
We go through each of these 3 Steps in detail and we start with “Time”
You will not need any flotation devices, in fact this will hinder you from learning to swim!
This is “the most important step” in learning how to swim, and by this we do not mean you need years of practice. We mean time to get used to being in water.
Like having a bath, when you first get in you need to get comfortable. In a bath there is small risk if the level is low and you are seated, or lying comfortably, (unless you fall asleep of course)
To be able to swim, you need to be comfortable and the main reason for why many people have not been able to learn how to swim, is because they have not felt comfortable in the environment they were when they attempted to swim.
Does getting splashed, pushed about and water movement like waves ring any bells here?
So the key is to take time to find a place, area, pool, shallow water or even the bath, to be able to make yourself become calm submerged slightly in water. You must be able to stand up at any time to waist height, to know that you are safe and in control yourself.
Ideal scenario is to be in a small swimming pool. Could be your own, friend or neighbours or even the local swimming pool but make sure no one else is thrashing about near you and the the water is as calm as a bath.
Warmth. It is important that the water you are in is warm and that you can stand/sit still in the water for long periods of time without starting to shiver. So with regards to a swimming pool, this should be heated or during the summer time where you will not get cold if stationary.
You will need to be able to sit or stand in the water up to your neck until your heart rate is the same as if you were sitting on your lounge having a cup of tea.
And this is where “time” plays an important part. Do not rush this step.
When you are comfortable at being in the water, this is when you can commence learning how to swim.
To swim means, moving through water by means of self propulsion ie,. Using your limbs or body movement.
Floating, is not swimming but is necessary to learn how to swim correctly. However you can swim underwater which also means that you do not need to float to swim.
Now here is the difficult part for many. “Getting your face wet” and this is where most people have failed in their attempts to swim because of this.
Yes you can swim with with a version of breaststroke, that keeps you head above water “but” you will inevitably get some water splashed onto your face and this is where you start to feel uncomfortable again and heart rate rises and panic starts to set in.
So it is important that you desensitise yourselves to water on the face.
This is where our next step “relaxation” come in.
Being comfortable and relaxed is the next stage to learn how to swim. By now you are relaxed in the water up to your neck.
So here is our next tip’ with both feet firmly on the bottom and holding on to your friend/partner and for a brief moment only, take a deep breath and slowly lower your face into the water very slowly, allowing yourself full control to be able to take your head out of the water at any time.
This may take as much time as the first step, which is time to feel calm about what you are doing. Many people give up after a few minutes here and this is just as important as the first step. Take time to get used to it.
Only when you can fully submerge your whole head into the water without panic or raising your heart beat much, can you go to the next step.
This usually takes from around 15 minutes to an hour but can take days, so don’t worry if you are struggling. The key is to be able to do it calmly and relaxed.
Another great tip for doing this step rather than holding your breath, is to use a snorkel and mask initially. This will get you used to the feel of the water around your head, the change in sound from your ears and the sensation of water on places around your head and the feeling of submersion.
Congratulations, that is the hardest part of swimming. The rest is easy.
We now go to the easy part “step 3,” of learning how to swim, “logic.”
The simple fact is, if you take a deep breath and lay calmly face down on the water, your body will float.
In a calm and relaxed state you can achieve this in one second. With a snorkel and mask you can lay like this for hours, or until you shrivel up like a prune :-)
Yes you are not swimming at this stage but you are floating, which is a major step in the logic and psyche behind why you have been struggling to swim all these years.
You will however feel your legs drooping lower in the water and touching the ground. This is because you are in the shallows and the air you have just inhaled is in your lungs which is in the trunk of your body and not in your legs.
There is still enough air in your body to keep you afloat and even in deep water, the trunk of your body will float to the top, leaving your legs dangling below the surface.
As you learn to hold your breath for more than a few seconds at a time you will begin to realise that you are keeping on top of the water and that all you need to do, is to move your limbs to make movement in the water. No matter how little, you are swimming!
Our top tip here now is to learn how to swim under water, or on the surface of the water before learning how to swim with your head above the surface of the water. Again if you feel more comfortable and more importantly relaxed using a snorkel and mask then this is a great help.
Again being in a calm state, and holding your breath(if not using a snorkel) just for a short moment, get to a state of floatation and then just move your legs, or arms about, anyway you like initially.
Did you know, at this stage, you are already swimming!!!!!
Well done, you can now swim!
The key now is effectiveness. Moving your arms and legs with no purpose is still swimming but you won’t really advance further or get anywhere useful.
Propulsion will be the main way of allowing you to raise your head out of the water and breath but at this moment we recommend that you try propulsion with your head still under water. This way you can calmly work out the best way that suits you to start your swimming.
If you can hold your breath for quite a few moments then practice by floating on the surface of the water and pushing yourself from the edge of the side wall. This will give you a little momentum and try some strokes in the water with your arms and legs.
If you struggle to hold your breath underwater for more than a few moments, then we recommend purchasing a snorkel and mask. By now you will realise that you can swim and the small investment is well worth it.
Having a snorkel and mask is a great aid to making you feel relaxed initially and will give you more time to float and get used to finding a good stroke that will propel you forward in motion.
For those of you that feel comfortable holding your breath for a little longer, we recommend using simple and easy breast strokes to start with. For the more adventurous, submerging right under the water and pushing off the side of the wall, will give you better propulsion and as you stroke through the water, the air in your lungs will give you additional propulsion that drives you up to the surface.
Either way by now you should realise that no matter what you do, if you take a deep breath prior to putting your head in the water, your body will stay up top near the surface and that you cannot sink, as most people think.
Once you have got this far, the rest is even easier. Basically the faster you propel yourself in the water the easier it is to lift your head out of the water and breath.
We do not go into the variety of ways to swim here as we are just trying to get you comfortable at swimming, the rest is just practice.
Please also bare in mind that swimming in the sea, is even easier, due to the salt content making you more buoyant but and this is a big “BUT.” The sea also throws up a whole new set of things to think of and beware of. Like tides, waves, currents, rips, depth, hazards and object to navigate.
We do recommend at the earlier stages, until you are confident, to always buddy up when swimming and stick to shallow waters.
Our next section is for the recreational swimmer, not to be confused with the experienced swimmer.
The Recreational Swimmer
By recreational, we mean someone that is comfortable swimming in most environments but only swims occasionally, or goes to the pool, lake or in the sea every now and again to have fun with family, friends and on one's own.
We expand further our swimming section here mainly because, even the most experienced swimmer can get themselves in trouble and as this is a travel tip website, it would be remiss of us not to point out a couple of tips to help avoid a serious failing whilst travelling the globe.
Please be aware of your own limitations and this is where many run into trouble. Many of you are strong, powerful, young fit and healthy individuals and sometimes almost believe you are indestructible.
Do not and we repeat “DO NOT” underestimate the power of water.
We share a few tips here. One, "time your swim."
Tip 0406 Time your swim
It is best not to swim directly after a heavy meal!
Do not drink alcohol and attempt to swim!
If you are feeling unwell, try not to follow the crowds and go swimming.
Be very careful if you have an ear infection, especially if you go underwater.
Tip 0407 Sun and temperature.
Keep out of the heat of the sun, especially when diving into the water! Sudden drop in body temperature at the onset of heat stroke, will cause dizziness and disorientation, or worse, loss of consciousness.
If you are swimming a long way, especially in the sea try to swim against any current on the way out, making for an easier swim on the way back.
Conserve energy and save strength for return swims.
Know your area! Research or ask the locals all about the area you intend to swim in.
Swimming at dawn and dusk in the sea makes for an interesting meal for marine life.
We have swam with many different varieties of shark with no problem at all but even we wouldn’t swim with them at feeding time or when the sun is so low in the water that they generally have difficulty see what you are in the water.
If you like snorkeling then have you tried any of these. (We must mention that all these techniques require proper training) and also plenty of practice. We highly recommend getting some qualified training here).
Have you ever wondered why you’re struggling to get down deep like some of the other guys?
The more air you have in your lungs, the harder it is to dive down.
Practice exhaling air from your lungs, either as you dive down, or before you dive under. Also try only taking half a breath before you dive under.
Hyperventilating before you dive, assists in tricking your body into thinking that it has enough oxygen and the breath reflex reduces, allowing you to hold your breath longer. Although this is true, it is also highly dangerous and can lead to loss of consciousness. We mention this only because many people know about it but not of the dangers and note as precautionary and as not advisable to do.
If you would like to know more about free diving and or diving, we suggest that you get in contact with the relevant associations to book yourselves into a club.
Do not try techniques that you have only heard about and haven’t researched or been taught by friends rather than experienced professionals.
Do you have ear pain and are you equalizing? Unless you are a diver, you may not know all about the dangers of air within the body at depth. We recommend you take a course in diving to establish how to correctly equalize and the effects of depths of water on the body and some simple physics.
We also point out about swimming in currents, thermal streams and rip tides.
No matter how good a swimmer you are, you cannot out swim strong current, tides and especially rip tide, that is a cause of many deaths around the world.
This all comes down to local knowledge. We mention time and time again about planning and research within this website and here is a “must do” for everyone. Always find out first hand what the conditions are like in the waters you are about to swim in.
Never assume it’ll be fine and that it looks safe.
Rip tides are the area of water that look the least dangerous and yet it can be a killer.
Swimming in thermal waters, makes you feel all warm and cozy but it zaps the strength out of you very fast.
Strong currents can take you a long way from where you want to go and getting out of a current is difficult unless you know what to look for.
We cannot give advice here as there are so many variables but we can say that seek the advice and assistance of the local authorities when it comes to swimming in areas you are not familiar with,
Even the most experienced swimmers have been caught out and this leads us nicely onto our last part of this section so far the "experienced swimmer."
The Experienced Swimmer
As an experienced swimmer you should be fully aware of all the dangers as written above but we do mention again that no matter how strong you are, you can always get caught out and in fact many drownings happen to experienced swimmers merely because they get all blase about it all.
Please take care out there and have fun.
Well there’s not much we can share with you experienced guys at the moment but if you have any comments you would like to add or contribute, we would love to hear from you. You can contact us at: firstname.lastname@example.org or on our “Forum page” in the toolbar at the head of each website page.