I am 32, just had my first class and seem to panic when floating. I can float, but after a few seconds, I panic and try to get up abruptly. This is affecting my glide as well. I don't think I am scared, but I can't seem to control this impulse to get out quickly. Help please!
Congratulations on taking your first swimming lesson - it can be a nervous time for some people.
Do not stress at this stage about floating and gliding. The panic you are experiencing is very common. A combination of things can cause it.
if you hold your breath whilst floating or gliding, in fact, if you hold your breath whilst doing anything (not even swimming-related), it causes a build-up of carbon dioxide in your lungs which after a few seconds needs to be released to allow in fresh oxygen. In other words, you need to breathe!
Instead, try to breathe out slowly as you float or glide. This will allow the carbon dioxide to be released slowly whilst you are face down in the water, which will help you relax and make the need to breathe again much less urgent.
Another factor to consider is your buoyancy. You say you are able to float but there will almost certainly be parts of your body that will slowly sink (probably your legs) and when you glide you may find yourself beginning to roll slightly, or certainly feel unbalanced in some way. This is just the way that the human body behaves in the water, and it is these kinds of things that cause the panic to quickly set in.
With all this in mind, think about your scenario. You are learning a brand new skill in an environment that, quite frankly, human beings were not designed to be in and do not belong in. You take a deep breath, put your face down in the water and glide or float. Carbon dioxide builds up, and you suddenly need to breathe. Combine that with an unbalanced feeling and maybe a slight sinking feeling, and that's is - panic. Get me out of here.
Take each lesson one at a time. Over time you will learn how your body behaves in the water when you are floating, gliding and swimming.
Remember, the water is not trying to pull you down. It is actually trying to support you and in time you will learn to relax and appreciate and feel your own buoyancy.
My ebook The Complete Beginners Guide To Swimming contains all the help and support you need, from relaxing, floating and breathing to all the technique tips for learning to swim the four basic strokes. Click the link below for more information.