Learning Swimming @ 40+

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OneWorld111
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Learning Swimming @ 40+

Post by OneWorld111 » Fri Jan 19, 2018 8:49 am

BHs:

I Am contemplating on learning swimming and in the past have tried but was not successful due to apparent fears. Now looking at my kids swimming feels like I should try one last time due to various reasons..

Any experiences of learning swimming at this age..

Thanks
OneWorld

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snackdog
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Re: Learning Swimming @ 40+

Post by snackdog » Fri Jan 19, 2018 8:58 am

My spouse learned to swim and ride a bike at about age 45. Did it all through discipline and 100s of hours of Youtube instructional videos. Is now a much better swimmer than I ever was or will be. Has textbook perfect crawl, backstroke, butterfly, etc.

You can do it!

onourway
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Re: Learning Swimming @ 40+

Post by onourway » Fri Jan 19, 2018 9:01 am

Lots of people learn to swim at this age as it's prime triathlon years!

At our local gym there is a 'swim guru' who teaches people of all ages to swim. Many people I know have gone from non-swimmers to comfortable swimming triathlon distances with his help.

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lthenderson
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Re: Learning Swimming @ 40+

Post by lthenderson » Fri Jan 19, 2018 9:03 am

My kids attend private swimming lessons because they didn't get along well in group classes. Their instructor however teaches lots of adults to swim, some of them that I have seen are retirement age. The one-on-one lessons help because the adults learn at a faster pace than kids and also makes the experience a bit more private.

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WoodSpinner
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Re: Learning Swimming @ 40+

Post by WoodSpinner » Fri Jan 19, 2018 9:04 am

snackdog wrote:
Fri Jan 19, 2018 8:58 am
My spouse learned to swim and ride a bike at about age 45. Did it all through discipline and 100s of hours of Youtube instructional videos. Is now a much better swimmer than I ever was or will be. Has textbook perfect crawl, backstroke, butterfly, etc.

You can do it!
Confession time, I am 58 and don’t know how to ride a bike :shock:

Had a bad spill when I was 6 and never got over the fear. I would love to learn how to ride and overcome this but am clueless in how to go about it at this age. How did your spouse tackle it?

WoodSpinner

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Sandtrap
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Re: Learning Swimming @ 40+

Post by Sandtrap » Fri Jan 19, 2018 9:08 am

I always thought I "knew" "how to swim". Many years ago I took a weekly lap swimming class for seniors. Learned how to swim correctly. They started out with something called "drown proofing" which gave me tons of confidence in the ocean that I did not have before.
Suggest join a weekly class for seniors in a heated pool if it is cold. Wear a short neoprene top or vest and shorts to keep warm and also add buoyancy.
j :D

investingdad
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Re: Learning Swimming @ 40+

Post by investingdad » Fri Jan 19, 2018 9:12 am

OneWorld111 wrote:
Fri Jan 19, 2018 8:49 am
BHs:

I Am contemplating on learning swimming and in the past have tried but was not successful due to apparent fears. Now looking at my kids swimming feels like I should try one last time due to various reasons..

Any experiences of learning swimming at this age..

Thanks
OneWorld
No experience learning to swim at this age, but I asked the forum about learning to play an instrument in my 40s with zero musical background.

That was just over a year ago and I've documented in my thread on here how much I'm enjoying learning the violin. I kick myself for waiting but am glad I started.

I was motivated to learn after watching my kids learn to play their instruments.

So...yes, I think you should. Most anything can be learned if the motivation is there.

bloom2708
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Re: Learning Swimming @ 40+

Post by bloom2708 » Fri Jan 19, 2018 9:13 am

OP, is your fear putting your head under water?

As mentioned, swimming is an extension of being able be in the water, put your head under, hold your breath, etc.

A good 1 on 1 instructor should be able to help you get past the basics. Floating, treading water, swimming underwater and stroke development can all come along at different stages.

Just like investing, the best day to start swimming is today.
"We are here not to please but to provoke thoughtfulness" Unknown Boglehead

squirm
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Re: Learning Swimming @ 40+

Post by squirm » Fri Jan 19, 2018 9:15 am

I I leaned when I was a kid, however start slow and go from there. Get a instructor who has experience.
You won't regret this, swimming is a lot of fun, both in a pool and out on the beach.

mbcruiser
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Re: Learning Swimming @ 40+

Post by mbcruiser » Fri Jan 19, 2018 9:19 am

I had similar fears when it came to downhill skiing... but when my teenage son (similarly cautious) took a lesson or two, it was a "team" thing with him (me well after age 40). Instructor was very smart...she told me to only do what is 'comfortable' (i.e. without having to prove anything to anyone but myself), and sure enough, we overcame and while there's no black diamond runs to demonstrate my prowess, it was learning with my son that let me enjoy recreational skiing for years afterward. As some say, 40 is the new 25, so just breath in, relax, and give it a try. You may find it fun after all.. and if not, what have you lost anyway....

stan1
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Re: Learning Swimming @ 40+

Post by stan1 » Fri Jan 19, 2018 9:21 am

Please learn. It is a safety issue for you and your loved ones. You don't want a close family member to endanger their life trying to save you in case of an accident around water. Likewise if a child or future grandchild falls into a pool you want to be confident in your ability to respond fast and save them.

ubermax
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Re: Learning Swimming @ 40+

Post by ubermax » Fri Jan 19, 2018 9:28 am

When I was a kid I couldn't master the breathing rhythm required for the crawl - it also stymied any longer distance running for the same reason - and so for swimming ( primarily ocean water ) I got pretty good at the side stroke , breaststroke , and backstroke which don't require the breathing synchronization , also got good at just floating - fresh water doesn't have the buoyancy of salt and so those strokes are naturally tougher in fresh .

But maybe start with those and slowly weave in the crawl - Good Luck !!!

lightheir
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Re: Learning Swimming @ 40+

Post by lightheir » Fri Jan 19, 2018 9:36 am

It will be no problem. It feels impossible at first, but you will get the hang of it and be able to swim surprisingly long distances within several months. ANd it's fun to learn!

I did this myself at age 35. I found that getting across the pool to do laps didn't take me that long at but it never felt comfortable or remotely easy. And then I found that swimming 'faster' (like triathlon race swimming) is very hard for the adult-onset swimmer!

But yes, def give it a go - it's very satisfying to see how far you can swim after some good training in the pool. Technique is everything for the beginner swimmer - do NOT fight the water. Relax!

gailwinters
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Re: Learning Swimming @ 40+

Post by gailwinters » Fri Jan 19, 2018 9:37 am

I had a frightening experience as a young child, which resulted in a great fear of being in water over my head. In my mid twenties, I took an adult swimming class at the Y. There were people much older than I, and that made me feel more comfortable than I thought I would. In that first class, learning to float was pretty much the only thing I achieved, but that was a major achievement for me. I took a second class and in that one, I learned to tread water, and how to actually swim. We swam the length of the pool and back as kind of a "graduation" test. I was thrilled to be able to do that.

getthatmarshmallow
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Re: Learning Swimming @ 40+

Post by getthatmarshmallow » Fri Jan 19, 2018 10:24 am

I learned when I was 31, because I had an academic conference that was going to be at the beach and I wanted to kayak. Previously I'd been too terrified to learn. I bought a group of six private lessons at the Y and was swimming end to end by the end of the third. I haven't kept up with it so my stroke is still choppy, but I am sufficiently comfortable to be able to swim for fitness when I want.

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snackdog
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Re: Learning Swimming @ 40+

Post by snackdog » Fri Jan 19, 2018 10:32 am

WoodSpinner wrote:
Fri Jan 19, 2018 9:04 am
snackdog wrote:
Fri Jan 19, 2018 8:58 am
My spouse learned to swim and ride a bike at about age 45. Did it all through discipline and 100s of hours of Youtube instructional videos. Is now a much better swimmer than I ever was or will be. Has textbook perfect crawl, backstroke, butterfly, etc.

You can do it!
Confession time, I am 58 and don’t know how to ride a bike :shock:

Had a bad spill when I was 6 and never got over the fear. I would love to learn how to ride and overcome this but am clueless in how to go about it at this age. How did your spouse tackle it?

WoodSpinner
Kept after me to buy a cheap bike for ages, so I finally bought a $100 model at K-Mart thinking it was a waste of money. It was cheap and sturdy but weighed a lot. I was scared of potential for injury and insisted I be on hand for training. My advice was ignored, of course. He pushed to the bike to a huge grassy park near our house, tied up the dog to a tree, got on the bike and rode on the grass. Never fell, reportedly. A couple months later we bought a real bike that cost quite a bit more which he rode mornings on the streets when they were quiet. No bike riding in our current location as the streets are chaos. No swimming for that matter either as no pools we can access.

Rupert
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Re: Learning Swimming @ 40+

Post by Rupert » Fri Jan 19, 2018 10:37 am

onourway wrote:
Fri Jan 19, 2018 9:01 am
Lots of people learn to swim at this age as it's prime triathlon years!
+1. This is true. Lots of runners and cyclists learn to swim at a late age so they can do triathlons. It's very common; so don't be embarrassed. I was never a good swimmer as a kid so started lessons in my 30s. I took lessons from a former college swimmer at my local YMCA. She was great.

kelage
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Re: Learning Swimming @ 40+

Post by kelage » Fri Jan 19, 2018 10:40 am

I found the advice and techniques of Total Immersion helpful.
http://www.totalimmersion.net/

TheHouse7
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Re: Learning Swimming @ 40+

Post by TheHouse7 » Fri Jan 19, 2018 10:43 am

Just do it. Your family will love and support you. Think of how happy everyone will be with you playing in the water.

Think of the other irrational fears you can help your kids concur later in life when S* really hits the fan.
"PSX will always go up 20%, why invest in anything else?!" -Father-in-law early retired.

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hand
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Re: Learning Swimming @ 40+

Post by hand » Fri Jan 19, 2018 10:44 am

Interesting challenge having watched many non-swimming teens and adults try to learn.
Learning to swim is infinitely harder (but still very doable) as soon as you're smart enough to recognize swimming is "unnatural"

Keys from my perspective:
1) Recognize that the fear is a rational response to an unnatural act. While you should respect the fear, don't let having fear be a failure unto itself - it's normal.

2) Find a good teacher for you, there are many objectively good adult teachers, but keep shopping and trying until you find one that is subjectively good to you.

3) Know yourself, and what motivates you, if you are goal oriented, get help putting together a step by step chart of achievements you can work towards (first lesson, head under water, floating, swim width of the pool, swim length of the pool), if you are achievement oriented, celebrate the successes after the face, socially motivated, consider a group.

Good Luck!

dutchglider
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Re: Learning Swimming @ 40+

Post by dutchglider » Fri Jan 19, 2018 11:59 am

I learned to swim at my local 4H pool as young boy but I never really learned how to swim.

My son's scout troop has a core group of leaders who do the mile swim every summer with the boys.
Turns out we have more leaders completing the mile swim than boys. I tried the mile swim five years ago
and was absolutely whipped, just able to complete 4 of the 8 laps in the lake for 1/2 mile.

I decided that it was time to learn how to swim.

I took an unconventional route to get there.

I wondered how the Navy Seals could swim for 5+ miles. I looked on youtube and sure enough there are some videos guiding
aspiring Seal candidates on how to swim the Navy Combat Swimmer Sidestroke. Look it up for something interesting.

I spent 11 months teaching myself how to swim the Navy Sidestroke.

I went to summer camp the next year to accomplish my goal of completing the mile swim.
This time around the lake was closed for swimming for the first few days (acid level out of bounds).
To work in the other aquatic activities in a short week,
the mile swim event was cancelled. However, one of the other activities was a lifeguard course so instead of the mile swim
I completed lifeguard training for the first time (as a 51 year old).

The next summer camp, I was able to complete the mile swim for the first time as a Scout (age 52) but this camp was in a pool.
Swimming effortlessly the Navy Seal Sidestroke.

And the next summer, completed the mile swim in the lake with the Navy Seal Sidestroke (age 53).
I also recertified as a lifeguard.

At this point, I decided I should learn how to swim again, so I wanted to learn the freestyle stroke.
I bought several used books and videos teaching the Total Immersion variation of freestyle.
About a year of learning the freestyle stroke, and this is for someone who "learned" how to swim 40+ years earlier.



So, yes, here are my recommendations and thoughts:

1) it is possible to learn to swim at age 40+, and even 50+.
2) swimming is a great low impact aerobic exercise (sometimes my resting pulse drops below 50).
3) For those want to learn how to swim, or re-learn how to swim, I recommend the Total Immersion methods
(key concepts are relaxation and efficiency).
4) For those swimmers needing variety, and lap swimming begs for variety, try to learn the Navy Combat Swimmer Sidestroke.
Your other strokes will probably get better.

Just like with investing, stay long in equities (with index funds of course),
and in swimming, stay long in the water!

Best wishes to all,

Dutchglider

AntsOnTheMarch
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Re: Learning Swimming @ 40+

Post by AntsOnTheMarch » Fri Jan 19, 2018 12:24 pm

OneWorld111 wrote:
Fri Jan 19, 2018 8:49 am
BHs:

I Am contemplating on learning swimming and in the past have tried but was not successful due to apparent fears. Now looking at my kids swimming feels like I should try one last time due to various reasons..

Any experiences of learning swimming at this age..

Thanks
OneWorld
I learned in my 30s but did not fear the water. I just signed up at local club/pool for lessons. When I arrived for my first lesson, the instructor was finishing a lesson with a 5 year old. :D

My take: it’s absolutely worth it. Get lessons form a good instructor (anyone you feel comfortable with should be fine). It’s easy but you can’t see exactly how easy until after your relax. Before then, it feels impossible due to a very natural fear of drowning. It took me maybe 4-5 lessons and then I quickly got into different strokes, dives, etc. One of the best investments I’ve ever made. Now that I’m 60, I don’t swim much anymore and I realize that I would have missed out on so much during these decades. Since you have kids, it’s even more of a no-brainer. Also, being in boats or around water will be so much less stressful if you know how to swim.

Good luck and enjoy it!

StarsandStripes
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Re: Learning Swimming @ 40+

Post by StarsandStripes » Fri Jan 19, 2018 12:29 pm

Full disclosure I am a life long swimmer and my daughter owns Phdswimschool.com.

You can learn to swim as an adult. Your biggest challenge will be finding a good qualified instructor. I have watched many people give lessons over the years and most are a waste of time. Start by contacting your local swim team coach in person after practice and ask for a recommendation of a good instructor for adults learning how to swim. You should first be taught to drown proof yourself as suggested above. Next you can start to overcome your phobias about the water then you will progress just fine.

As an adult there are two challenges that you face; your fears, and using an entire set of muscles you never used before. It is a slow process to strengthen those muscle while feeling relaxed in the water. Try to relax so that you can work with the water and have fun.

I know of several people that have completed an Ironman event that learned to swim in there late 20's and 30's. You too can do it.

TSR
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Re: Learning Swimming @ 40+

Post by TSR » Fri Jan 19, 2018 12:35 pm

I swim a couple times a weak at my local YMCA. Very often I will see adult beginners taking swim lessons. I mention this for two reasons. First, the local YMCA is very used to such requests and is a great resource -- if they don't have the lessons you need, they will point you in the right direction. Second, there should be no "shame factor" in this. As a fairly experienced swimmer, I have never once had a reaction to seeing adult lessons other than, "Oh, good for them." I have never seen other experienced swimmers scoff or roll their eyes.

Please do this, and I hope you love it!

TonyDAntonio
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Re: Learning Swimming @ 40+

Post by TonyDAntonio » Fri Jan 19, 2018 12:43 pm

I learned how to swim when I was 14 after years of failed attempts with private lessons. The trick for me was using flippers a mask and a snorkel tube. I could kick around the pool (and then the ocean...still can't believe I did that and probably won't ever again) and get the confidence that I could float and swim on top of the water without fear of sinking. When you take off the flippers, yes, you have to kick harder but you now have the confidence that you will stay on top of the water. I still (I'm 58) am not totally at ease in the water but I can breaststroke all day long. I can't freestyle worth a damn and have no interest in putting in the time but I can swim. Try the flippers if normal methods don't work.

3feetpete
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Re: Learning Swimming @ 40+

Post by 3feetpete » Fri Jan 19, 2018 2:16 pm

ubermax wrote:
Fri Jan 19, 2018 9:28 am
When I was a kid I couldn't master the breathing rhythm required for the crawl - it also stymied any longer distance running for the same reason - and so for swimming ( primarily ocean water ) I got pretty good at the side stroke , breaststroke , and backstroke which don't require the breathing synchronization , also got good at just floating - fresh water doesn't have the buoyancy of salt and so those strokes are naturally tougher in fresh .

But maybe start with those and slowly weave in the crawl - Good Luck !!!
Plus 1 for sidestroke breast stroke and backstroke. They are my go to strokes especially the sidestroke which doesn’t tire me and allows to keep my mouth out of water and breathing whenever I want . For ocean swimming it. Is the best. I can swim the freestyle but it tires me quickly.

hicabob
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Re: Learning Swimming @ 40+

Post by hicabob » Fri Jan 19, 2018 2:25 pm

Using a swimmer's snorkel helped me. It removes the breathing problem I always had and lets me relax and concentrate on what I'm doing. Most of the swimmers where I swim use a snorkel.

SrGrumpy
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Re: Learning Swimming @ 40+

Post by SrGrumpy » Fri Jan 19, 2018 5:11 pm

Go to the web site of your local city pool. They will offer adult classes. Swimming is the superior sport, and it rewards efficient and calm stroke technique. A lot of skilled swimmers came to the game late, so you never know how far this bold first step will take you.

timmy
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Re: Learning Swimming @ 40+

Post by timmy » Fri Jan 19, 2018 5:14 pm

Swim class

If you have the means, private swim lessons

Swim, 2x to 3x per week

That's been my journey. I could always jump off a boat or diving board and get back to safety or stay afloat in the deep end of a pool. But I couldn't swim across a pool. I got serious in January 2017. In July 2017, I swam 1500 meters in a lake (triathlon), this summer, it'll be 1.2 miles, and in 2019 2.4 miles. I'm still clunky but I am getting better bit by bit.

Mid 40s ...

Good luck.

timmy
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Re: Learning Swimming @ 40+

Post by timmy » Fri Jan 19, 2018 6:23 pm

SrGrumpy wrote:
Fri Jan 19, 2018 5:11 pm
Go to the web site of your local city pool. They will offer adult classes. Swimming is the superior sport, and it rewards efficient and calm stroke technique. A lot of skilled swimmers came to the game late, so you never know how far this bold first step will take you.
+1

JBTX
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Re: Learning Swimming @ 40+

Post by JBTX » Fri Jan 19, 2018 6:58 pm

I found in teaching my kids to swim that putting face in the water and opening eyes was a big hurdle. Letting them learn with swimming goggles helped.

Definitely do lessons, but it really shouldn’t be hard. Go to a shallow end around 4 feet deep. Unless you are a male athlete with low body fat you can pretty much float if you hold your breath. Learn to float on your back and on your stomach with your head in the water eyes open. Learn to exhale under water (blow bubbles) and inhale out of water. Jump up and down in 4-5 feet of water going completely under and exhaling. Once you master that in shallow end learn to push off the wall or steps and glide a few feet. Then add some kicks. Then add some arm strokes.

Yukon
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Re: Learning Swimming @ 40+

Post by Yukon » Sat Jan 20, 2018 6:30 am

kelage wrote:
Fri Jan 19, 2018 10:40 am
I found the advice and techniques of Total Immersion helpful.
http://www.totalimmersion.net/
+1. Tim Ferriss did a TedTalk on his battle with fear and swimming using the same technique.
Don't Work Forever.

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Toons
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Re: Learning Swimming @ 40+

Post by Toons » Sat Jan 20, 2018 6:57 am

Face Your Fears :happy
What An Excellent Way,
To "Grow"
Swim On.
:happy :happy
"One does not accumulate but eliminate. It is not daily increase but daily decrease. The height of cultivation always runs to simplicity" –Bruce Lee

OSUBucks4Evr
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Re: Learning Swimming @ 40+

Post by OSUBucks4Evr » Sat Jan 20, 2018 7:31 am

I too am older (age 58) and would very much like to learn, but am not sure I can make myself face my fears again. I first tried to take lessons at the age of 8, and had a very bad experience. I was deathly afraid of water, but at the start of the first lesson the instructor insisted that everyone get in the pool by JUMPING in (shallow end, but I watched the other kids do it and saw their heads go under water briefly, so that was it for me). When she couldn't talk me into doing that, instead of just letting me sit on the side of the pool and watch until I hopefully would have felt more confident, when I was looking the other way she shoved me in the pool. I took in a big mouthful of water and came up coughing and crying and choking and making enough noise that everyone in that olympic-size pool (there were several other classes going on simultaneously in other parts of the pool) stopped what they were doing and stared. My instructor became irate and started screaming at me that I was embarrassing her and that when I came back the next week she would see to it that I was no longer in her class, then she ordered me out of the pool. I never went back for a second lesson. Nowadays, an instructor who behaved like that toward a child would probably be fired on the spot, but everyone just watched her yell at me for what seemed like forever, and no one did anything. I took a few lessons years later, when I was 17, with a much nicer/more patient instructor, but still had difficulty with having my head underwater so I didn't pass the course. I'm always embarrassed when I have to admit to someone that I can't swim.

To the OP, best of luck with your lessons. I hope you have fun with them and have many years of swimming enjoyment. :happy

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JamesSFO
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Re: Learning Swimming @ 40+

Post by JamesSFO » Sat Jan 20, 2018 7:33 am

I tried at age 40. One thing I did was take the "Total Immersion" class, it was a 2 day program that really helped provide some class room theory + video recordings underwater. But in the end after making valiant attempts for ~2 years after, I never got much beyond one lap at a time and it never "clicked" for me.

SrGrumpy
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Re: Learning Swimming @ 40+

Post by SrGrumpy » Sat Jan 20, 2018 9:36 am

OSUBucks4Evr wrote:
Sat Jan 20, 2018 7:31 am
I too am older (age 58) and would very much like to learn, but am not sure I can make myself face my fears again.
Your story is one of the saddest I have read on BH. Sport coaches have a lot to answer for, and that person should have been locked up. Swimming, like all sports, needs to be an enjoyable, social experience with a dedicated coach.

I believe videos and classroom pep talks distract from the basic chore of getting into shallow water and kicking with a board or floating on your front/back with the coach holding you. I still remember, at 5 or 6, my coach promising that she would never let me go - and I'm glad she kept her word.

timmy
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Re: Learning Swimming @ 40+

Post by timmy » Sat Jan 20, 2018 9:37 am

JamesSFO wrote:
Sat Jan 20, 2018 7:33 am
I tried at age 40. One thing I did was take the "Total Immersion" class, it was a 2 day program that really helped provide some class room theory + video recordings underwater. But in the end after making valiant attempts for ~2 years after, I never got much beyond one lap at a time and it never "clicked" for me.
I tried it also. With only some success. I thought it made a lot of sense but it never came together. I've moved on but tried to keep some of the main points in mind.

I should note ... I'm not very coordinated so I find "complex" movements like swimming harder than many others. I can generate a lot of power, can withstand a lot of pain, and can be very focused. In the case of swimming, the last one helped. :?

timmy
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Re: Learning Swimming @ 40+

Post by timmy » Sat Jan 20, 2018 9:47 am

Two more things

I found it easier to perform the breast stroke first. I never had great form but I got to the point that I could do it all day (literally). Within 3 months, I performed it for 90 minutes with no breaks. Why? I think ... The breathing is easier and so is the sighting (seeing where you are going) in open water. Knowing that I was "good at something" made it easier (mentally) to attack freestyle.

Teach yourself to flip over on your back when you panic. It needs to be automatic.

When I performed my TRI last year, I had never swam within a large group. At about the 200 meter point, I panicked, literally. I flipped over for 2 to 3 minutes to breath, catch my bearings, reset. I used the breast stroke for the next 200 meters, maybe. The crowd of swimmers passed then. I did the rest freestyle.

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