Swimfit Training Camp: Fear of the deep end
Fear of the unknown is one of the most common stumbling blocks for wannabe swimmers. Whether it’s the open water or the deep end of the pool, the psychological barrier of not knowing what is beneath you can be incredibly difficult to overcome.
As part of the Big Splash last year, BBC Blue Peter presenter Andy Akinwolere confronted his fear of swimming in deep water, breaking the world record for the deepest location of an open water swim when he swam five miles across the 8,000m deep Palau Trench in the Pacific Ocean.
So we thought who better to ask for tips on overcoming your swimming fear than the man who coached him to this remarkable achievement - Camden Swiss Cottage's director of swimming Dave Hobbs.
- One of the most important starting points is to eliminate any feeling of a lack of security.
- If you're not confident in your swimming ability, make sure you're in a pool with a qualified lifeguard present.
- If you're tackling open water, do it with a friend (it is always recommended to swim open water with a friend anyway) who is a strong swimmer and ask them to stick next to you.
- Don’t swim after watching Jaws! Or Titanic.
SWIMFIT SAYS... RELAX
There are plenty of tried and tested ways to stay relaxed in the water and it's a great way to feel more confident and comfortable:
- Wear goggles.
- Breathe bubbles out slowly with your face in the water or make a humming noise with your face in the water.
- Relax your breathing – just make it natural. You don’t need a big deep breath to swim.
- Go with a friend who is confident, then in chest deep water just chat away about anything other than swimming. Gradually progress into the deeper water then swim back to where you can stand.
- Sit on the bottom at the shallow end.
- Be soft and gentle when you're swimming, slowly glide through the water and never snatch at your stroke.
- Have fun and laugh – don’t go swimming with anyone too serious!
- Gradual progression is a key to success. Don’t try and do it all in one session. When you have made some progress, quit for the day and feel good about yourself.
- But remember not to leave it too long before you get back in. The next day would be perfect.
- Remember to take it slowly – be careful of friends who may want to push you too soon.
- You will not overcome your fear by jumping off a boat or in the deep end of a pool until you are ready – you will know when this is!
- If you struggle with the deep end of the pool, head to Basic Front Crawl or Basic Breaststroke and work on making your technique smoother and more relaxing.
- If you're daunted by the prospect of open water swimming, head to Advanced Front Crawl and watch our Advanced Technique Videos.
- Read about Andy Akinwolere's Big Splash challenge where he conquered his fear of deep water and swam across a 8,000m deep trench in the Pacific Ocean.
- Leave a comment below or head to Ask an Expert with a specific question about your swimming fears.