How can I overcome my fear of swimming in deep water? My swimming lessons take place in a pool that is 6'6 deep at the deep end, and I feel I cannot swim at that end. Please help.
You can practice a few exercises in the pool that will get you used to deeper water and help you conquer your fear of swimming in deep water.
Firstly it is important to understand that the human body behaves the same in deep water as in shallow water. In other words, how your body floats and your ability to swim in deep water is the same as in more shallow water. The actual depth of the water makes no difference.
However, psychologically it can make a huge difference. Fear of swimming in deep water and even just fear of water can cause the body to become nervous and our muscles to become tense. This then makes swimming very difficult. The key to overcoming this initially is to relax.
How to relax in the water? The first step is to become comfortable with holding your breath and submerging below the water's surface. This has to be practised in the water of standing depth. You can even try it whilst holding on to the poolside for security if you feel you need to.
When you feel comfortable with submerging (which can take anywhere between 10 minutes and ten weeks, depending on your fear), try it without holding the poolside and then try it without your feet on the pool floor. As long as you know you can place your feet back down at any point; your confidence should start to grow. Click here for tips on regaining a standing position.
Becoming comfortable with being underwater will help you relax in all parts of your swimming.
Then comes swimming in deep water. If you know that your body will float and move in the same way in deep water as in shallow water and you are now more confident with submerging underwater, actually swimming in deep water should be a little easier psychologically.
Try swimming in the water of standing depth, swimming away from the poolside for about 5 to 10 meters, then changing direction and swimming back to the poolside again. This is a good test of your swimming strength and confidence. Practice this until you are totally confident and find it easy, then go to the pool's deep end and do exactly the same.
Practice it until you find it easy, and when you do, you have proved to yourself that you can swim away from the poolside, change direction and swim back again and the depth of the water makes no difference whatsoever.
My best-selling book The Complete Beginners Guide To Swimming contains everything you need to give you that helping hand with all parts of learning to swim, including learning how to submerge. You can download it, print out the parts you need and take them to your pool to try out. Click the link below for more information.