Lulu asks: Hi. All my friends can swim, and I really want to learn. I’m taking lessons, but I can’t get it, no matter how many times I try. It annoys me because my friends can swim and I get embarrassed. Please help x. thanks
Hi Lulu –
Well, I guess it’s pretty obvious, but I’m not a great swimmer; I can only dog-paddle. But when you think about it, that name exists for a reason. And that’s because we dogs never take swimming lessons. We just jump in the water and do our best to propel ourselves around, which means we do something a lot like running, which is dog-paddling.
So I don’t have any great expertise on swimming for you. What I can talk about, though, is your feelings. Lulu, you can learn to swim. If you have a normal human body, you can swim just like other people. What I’m guessing is that you’re just having trouble with the “knack” of it.
By that, I mean that of course there are incredibly amazing, subtle, difficult skills that make the difference between an okay swimmer and an Olympic champion. But we’re not worrying about those. What the two sorts of swimmers have in common is a body-knowledge of how to be in the water, how to float, how to hold your body in a way that it can be buoyant and propel itself. And learning this might take a bit of time for you.
Is there something you can do between lessons? Maybe you belong to a gym or a club that has a pool, or maybe even your school has one? If so, I’d suggest you find some time to go hang out in the pool, and don’t even worry about swimming. Just try to make yourself float. Can you lie face up and just be there? Can you hang face-down like a jellyfish, with just your back staying above the water? Can you dog-paddle a lap?
Once your body has a sense of how to keep itself where it wants in the water, it really shouldn’t be a big stretch to then master a few good swimming strokes.
But I’m also thinking, you may have a special enemy in this. And that enemy is your own embarrassment. As long as you’re feeling bad about your swimming, you’ll be concentrating on that, instead of on your body’s movement. So, again, give yourself some time in the water alone, when you can just get a good feel for it. And then, when you go to that next lesson, remind yourself that you’re the one who’s had to learn swimming the fastest. That all the others there knew how before you. So in that sense, you’re the coolest one there! You’re actually the quickest learner, and you may well prove yourself the best swimmer eventually!
If you can do that, I really think you’ll do much better. Get your body so it can handle the water, then get your mind so it can handle the group… and you’ll be fine!