From Couch to Pool – Learn How to Swim Part 1

learn to swim

Dealing With the Mind Demons  – Learn How to Swim – Part 1 


In this series we are going to break learning how to swim into bite size chunks. In this — part 1, we are going to look at the mental challenges and fears you might be facing with learning how to swim.

I’m going to make an assumption here. If you did a Google search for something like, “Learn to Swim” you’re most likely a non-swimmer or newbie. Which means you’ve come to the right place!

A little background and encouragement

I didn’t grow up swimming. In fact I didn’t learn how to swim until I was 39 years old and I did it in eight months in order to do my first Olympic distance Irongirl triathlon for charity. When I first started I had a million reason/excuses why I couldn’t do it, one of which was I couldn’t put my face in the water without hyperventilating.

You’re in a safe place,  I know all the feelings and frustrations that you’ve had or will be having. I know it can be done because I’ve already walked it out myself. After getting over myself, finding my why, and pushing past my fears — I’m now doing full-Ironman distance swims. The pool has become my happy place. That’s not to brag, I say it to let  you know if I can do it – so can you!

The first rule in problem solving is identifying your problem. Below I’ve listed some of my personal fears, roadblocks, and frustrations that came with my journey to learn how to swim. I’ve also listed my self-talk and action steps that I took. Your list might be completely different and that’s okay.

swimming technique learn to swim

What do I fear about swimming? 

  1. Fear/Roadblock: I don’t know what I’m doing or where to start. Answer: Get over it! Ask around for a good swim coach or group to swim with – you’ll be okay (this is how I learned to swim). Tip: Find a swim teacher who has an empathetic teaching style that makes you feel safe and understood.
  2. Fear/Roadblock: People at the pool will judge me.  Answer: Get over it! No one is really thinking about you, they’re not talking about you. They are concerned about their own life not you and how you may look in the pool or in your suit for that matter.
  3. Fear/Roadblock: I can’t put my face in the water. Answer: Get over it! Sometimes you’ve just got to do it. When your brain tells you no, do it anyway. Trick: If you have this problem as well start by going to the shallow end of the pool (wearing goggles so you can see) put your mouth in the water and start blowing bubbles, making a motor boat sound. As your comfort grows try doing this with your head fully submerged.
  4. Fear/Roadblock: What if I can’t breath? Answer: Get Over it! Tip: When you start working on actual swimming technique, relax. Swimming technique is very similar to that of golf. The harder you try and or tense up the more energy you waste and the more frustrated you’re going to get. Relax! Go with the flow, let the water do all the work. Know that you’re in the safety of a guarded pool with lane lines and pool sides — you are going to be okay. Also read my article 6 Steps to Learning How to Breath While Swimming.

Now it’s your turn:

Write down your fears/challenges — then write down a solution. Figure out why or how you can overcome the problem or fear. When you write something down you set it free. So do it.





Here are some other articles that you can read that hopefully you’ll like until Learn How to Swim Part 2 is released.

If you have any questions for me please feel free to leave them in the Facebook comments box below. I will do my best to get back to you as soon as possible.

If this article helped you out, please like it or share it with someone who could use the help and/or encouragement.

Amy Cotta

Posted on February 3, 2014 in Training & Fitness

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