“ Swimming has become part of my life in a way that I never imagined; a real pleasure. I really look forward to getting to the pool - a complete conversion. Many, many thanks."
Round about the age of 50 I decided to address my dislike of swimming pools and fear of the water. For many years I’d dutifully taken my children to swimming pools, standing in the cold water as they splashed around enjoying themselves while inwardly counting down the minutes until I could get out. I’d occasionally do a tentative width keeping my head as high out of the water as I could manage, thus earning the family phrase of ‘mum swims like a dinosaur’. When they were old enough to swim without me around I let it be known that I didn’t do swimming, and threw away my costume.
Backache has been a long term issue for me, and swimming was suggested as a form of regular exercise and relaxation. I decided (with the encouragement of a close friend, who is a swimmer) that it might be the right time to give it serious consideration. I knew that there was no way I could possibly just go to my local pool and sign up for lessons, just the smell of chlorine was enough to make me panic, let alone the thought that someone might suggest that I put my head under water.
I had a look on the internet for an alternative approach, not really knowing what I was looking for, but a site popped up with the title Swimming without Stress. The idea of a residential course where I could be taught on a one to one basis appealed immediately, so I booked a week’s accommodation along with the course. I took some of the now grown up family, including grandchildren so we could make a holiday of it.
The biggest discovery for me was that swimmers don’t hold their breath under water! Cheryl very gently introduced me to the sensation of being beneath the surface of the water, which in itself took a few sessions as the fear of ‘going under’ took a while to face up to (or face down to, as it were).With a lesson a day (and the opportunity to go in the pool to practice) I learnt to breathe out under the water, glide, regain my feet, float and find my balance, but just as importantly (to me) I was able to blow bubbles under the water at my grandchildren!
I’d not fully grasped how to propel myself by the end of the course but with that surge in confidence I was able to go to my local pool. Gradually I found that I could get my arms, legs and breathing to blend together in breaststroke. With the encouragement of a local instructor I was soon able to take the step of swimming into the deep end (another fear faced).With persistence my stamina increased and swimming sessions have become an almost daily activity. A day without a swim now doesn’t feel quite complete.
A year on and I’ve been back to Cheryl and Ian for more swimming instruction. My aim this time round was to learn front crawl. I’d made attempts at it, in local group lessons at the leisure centre, but found that I made little progress. I could sense the old fear of ‘going under’ returning as time after time I simply found myself gasping for breath, getting water up my nose and losing control of my arms and legs.
By going back to sessions with Ian and Cheryl the front crawl was de-constructed, with an emphasis on finding and maintaining the breathing position. Their approach has given me an understanding of front crawl which seemed to be missing from the conventional swimming teaching instruction.
I shall now be going back to my local pool with renewed confidence and an armoury of ‘mantras ’to put into practice, including the reminder to ‘keep my neck free’. Although my original motivation was to become fitter (which has happened) it has been replaced with a desire to more fully experience their simple statement of ‘swimming, without stress'.
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“In these posts we want to encourage anyone who'd like things to be easier in the water. You may be a non-swimmer struggling to trust the water, an improver trying to understand how the strokes work, a recreational or fitness swimmer who tires easily, perhaps with aches and pains, or a swimming teacher looking for a different approach. Two questions running through this blog are: What is it about being in water that makes us happy and benefits our health? Where does our focus need to be, to enjoy these benefits?
If you find a post helpful, see the links underneath it to others with similar themes. Oh, and if you're on Facebook, please click 'Like'."Ian and Cheryl Cross - Swimming Without Stress