Fear of Swimming/Pool
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Fear of Swimming/Pool
Our daughter has been taking swimming lessons pretty
consistently for about a year now and is making no progress.
She started at the Y as a pike and moved right up to eels the
next session, but there she stays. In fact, the teachers think
she should go back to pikes now bc she won't even do the minimum
anymore that the class expects, i.e. putting her face in the
water, floating with help... She doesn't put up a big fight
about it and she's always quite happy to go to swim class, she
just refuses to take any risks, esp. with getting her face and
eyes wet. We tried goggles but she didn't like those. We tried
lessons at the King pool during the summer, but she was just as
This doesn't seem like something to just give up on -- if it
were gymnastics or soccer or something like that, we'd say fine,
she can live without it, why push? But this is water safety,
and it seems like a skill she needs to have.
We're about to try a private lesson to see if a little less
noise and commotion might help, but she won't even let water on
her face in the tub, so I'm doubtful that it will make a
difference. Please share your thoughts and experience on this
Our daughter was exactly like this! We tried all different
sorts of swimming lessons, even driving all the way over to that
school up in El Sobrante that's supposed to be so good. She
enjoyed lessons but just refused to progress.
Then one day just before her 7th birthday we were at a hotel
with a pool. She got in with her dad and decided to put her
face in the water and try to swim. He helped her a little and
she actually made a few strokes. She was really excited and we
gave her a lot of encouragement. When we got home we signed her
up for swimming lessons at the local pool. The training wasn't
the greatest but she made fabulous progress, and a year later
she was swimming at an advanced level.
I guess it's just another of those things where the child has to
be ready and *they* have to decide to do it. When your daughter
is ready she'll learn to swim. In the meantime, don't sweat it.
The same thing happened with my son. He would take a couple of
sessions of swim classes at the Y each year but never even
progressed beyond pikes because he would not put his face in
the water. He seemed to like the classes, though. Then last
spring, when he was six, he started in the lowest level of
classes for older kids, and suddenly overcame his fear and
started to learn to swim. For him, goggles were the key, but I
don't think they would necessarily have worked when he was
five. I think he just was ready.
I was about the same age when my parents put me in swim classes, which I, too,
loved, but in which I was afraid in the same way. I think the greatest risk is that
your daughter will detect your frustration and irritation; after all these years, I
still recall my father's reactions to my fear. You might simply have to wait until she's
old enough to recognize her fear for what it is, and to intellectually see her way through
it. By the time I was about 14, I took classes -- for the 4th time in my life. At
that age, I was able to work beyond my fear, and quickly became a strong swimmer, and
even became one of the youngest kids in junior lifesaving.
Do you know if your daughter had a bad experience with one of her
swim teachers? I have vivid memories of being a rather timid seven-
year-old, taking swim lessons, and having the teacher expect us all to
jump feet first into the deep end. When I wouldn't, he made fun of me in
front of the other students. Needless to say, I wanted nothing to do with
the water for quite a long time. It took a couple of hours, one on one,
with a very gentle, understanding, non-pressuring swim coach before I
would even consider putting my face in the water again.
No real advice here, except to be patient and persistent. My
then-5 year old also was timid about putting his face in the
water, and was reluctant to even venture forth from the wall
during Y lessons for many sessions. His breakthrough occurred
last summer when he suddenly realized how much fun it was to be
underwater, and now at age 6 he is completely comfortable in
the water. Daily lessons at the King pool and swimming at Camp
Tuolomne seemed to do the trick. Being able to touch bottom
was a big help. Goggles helped a lot, so keep that open as an
option, even though she is not interested now. It might help
if you can arrange time in a pool outside of structured
lessons. Vacations at a place with a swimming hole or a motel
pool? Bring some diving sticks or rings, and have her retrieve
them, starting with shallow areas like the pool steps.
Wondering if anyone has experience helping their toddler overcome a fear
of swimming--or rather, fear of being in a swimming pool. My 21-month-old
loves taking a bath, but doesn't like the splashing that comes from being
in a pool with even one other child. Last summer was her first experience
being in a pool, and from the very beginning she made it clear she didn't
like it. We took her first to Strawberry Canyon, and it was way too active
for her. So then we tried the small backyard pool, thinking a more
controlled environment would be easier to handle, but she didn't want to
get in. Now the summer is rolling around and we've gotten the first sign
that not much has changed over the interim period. On one of the hot days
last week her childcare provider brought out a bunch of pools for the kids
to cool off in, but our daughter Toni wouldn't have it. The teachers even
made the water warmer, more like a bath, but Toni appeared to be afraid of
being splashed. We don't want to push anything, she'll probably outgrow
this if we leave her alone, but I'm wondering if there's anything we can
do to show her how much fun she can have, and to encourage a love of the
Fear of swimming. A fear of splashing sounds like something that your
daughter is just going to have to grow out of. My son developed a mild
fear of large bodies of water used for swimming (no problem with a bath)
when he was almost 2. On advice of a friend I enrolled him in the
downtown Berkeley YMCA's water acclimation class for kids 6 mos-3 years old.
Obviously this involves a parent being with the kid at all times.
The first time we went he was quite scared and I held him barely touching
the water most of the time, but just at the end he discovered how much
fun it was to jump in and have me catch him. After that he had no
problems being in the swimming pool and we even signed up for a second
session, just to have fun.
I am afraid I don't have any quick fixes. Our own experience was that our
son, now five, was also afraid of water in his face. As a baby, he would
become very upset when one of us would take him into the shower,
presumably because he didn't like the water splashing on his face. He
did, however, enjoy piddling around in the baby pool and in the tub. But
recreational swimming in a real pool was not of interest to him at all.
He would cry and act terrified. Finally, last summer he seemed to
overcome everything. I credit his swimming teacher. She was an older,
grandma-type, who was very firm but not at all scary. She was quite
experienced and scared students were old hat for her. I made sure my son
knew that I trusted her and that the lessons were a fun privilege. Before
one week of lessons was over, he had mastered a few skills and was much
more relaxed. I think it had something to do with the fact that unlike I,
the instructor did not become alarmed when he expressed fear. I guess
children know when we are worried and/or frustrated even when we try to
fake it. Good luck.
My parents, brothers and sister were all good swimmers and my three
children are all good swimmers, however I have been absolutely
petrified of water my entire life and see absolutely nothing appealing
about swimming. Every summer my parents sent me to swimming lessons
as they thought I would learn to love it like they did. That was not
the case, in fact I would try to get out of these lessons which I
never succeeded at doing. I am now in my 50's and things have not
changed, so there are some of us that unfortunately never get over the
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