I am female and learnt to swim about three years ago at age 60 after a lifelong fear of the water. I now have confidence in the water but am still struggling with my deep water fear and get anxious swimming to the deep end.
I will swim to the deep end when instructed but get very anxious as I approach the end - I constantly feel that I am not going to reach the end - I get anxious before I go to the pool and cannot get it out of my mind before and after my lesson. I seem to have a mental block regarding this. Any tips?
First of all, congratulations on learning to swim. You have achieved something that many adults wish they could but dare not try.
As for swimming in deep water, it is important to understand that the buoyancy of the human body remains the same in all depths of water. In other words, you will float in deep water just as well as you float in shallow water, therefore your ability to swim in all depths of water remains the same.
You may be experiencing some fatigue and breathlessness as you approach the end of your length in the deep end, which may give you that fearful feeling that you are going to sink.
You could try starting your swim from the deep end of the pool and swim to the shallow end and see how it feels in terms of tiredness.
A little test to try out on yourself: swim away from the poolside to an area of the pool that you know you can stand in if you need to. Then turn around and swim back to the wall where you came from.
The most important part here is when you change direction to swim back again, you must do so without placing your feet on the pool floor or stopping to touch the bottom.
Changing direction like this can be tiring and make you a little breathless, but with some practice, you will begin to find it easier.
What you are effectively doing here is attempting to convince yourself that no matter where you are in the pool you are able to change direction and swim back to the side of the pool. Therefore the depth of the water is of no relevance.
The most important thing is not to let it put you off of swimming in any way. You have achieved a huge amount so far, so keep going to the pool and practice, practice, practice. Soon your confidence will grow, and it will not be a problem.