Common Swimming Questions

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Are you one of those frustrated beginners with hundreds of swimming questions going around and around in your head?

Learning to swim can be a challenging and sometimes frustrating experience.  You have your good days and you have your not so good days and as a swimming teacher, I am constantly being asked questions.

The most common questions that I get asked are listed below with links to some detailed answers, along with some encouragement that I have given to some of the beginners that have contacted me.

answers to the most common swimming questions

How Do I Float?

This is one of the most common swimming questions asked.

Floating is a characteristic of your body. Either you float well or you do not.  In general lean muscular people tend to sink and people with a higher body fat percentage will tend to float. That does not mean that if you do not float well then you cannot learn to swim.  Here are my tips for floating when learning to swim.

Learning To Swim At This Age. Am I Too Old?

Never!  Anyone can learn to swim at any age.  Where you start will depend on how comfortable or uncomfortable you are in the water. Here is a detailed answer I gave to a 65 year old lady asking the very same question.


Get over to Facebook and join the Swim Teach group where swimming teachers help beginners learn how to swim.

Come on over, upload your videos of you swimming and get some tips and advice.  


How Can I Conquer My Fear Of Deep Water?

Become confident with submerging underwater first.  Practice in water of standing depth with your feet standing on the pool floor and also with your feet lifted off of the pool floor.  Keep in mind that the water is trying to support you, not pull you down.  Here are some simple exercises for conquering a fear of deep water.

How Do I Stop And Stand Up When Swimming?

A simultaneous movement of the arms and legs is needed here. 

 The arms pull down through the water and the knees bend forward before the feet are placed on the pool floor.  A common mistake is to arch the back and lift the head without moving the arms or legs.  Here is a detailed explanation with a simple diagram showing how to stand up in the pool after swimming.

Can I Learn To Swim With My Head Above The Water?

Yes certainly. It is preferable to learn how to submerge and breath when learning to swim as this enhances confidence in all areas of swimming. However a recreational type of breaststroke where the head remains above the water surface can be used.  Technically this type of breaststroke is not very efficient but it is commonly swum.  Here is my detailed answer when asked this question.

Why Do I Sink When I Try To Swim?

Relax!  The more you relax, the more your body will be inclined to float.  Even if your body composition makes you a poor floater, if you relax as you swim you will find it easier to remain at or near the water surface.  Click here for a more detailed answer.

How Can I Swim Without Getting Tired?

This depends firstly on your fitness level and secondly on the swimming stroke you swim because some swimming strokes are physically more demanding than others.  For example front crawl is more intense than breaststroke, but whatever the stroke, correct swimming technique will ensure you swim through the water with maximum efficiency, using the minimum of energy.  Click here for a detailed explanation.

Swimming Questions Answered... and More

Got more burning swimming questions?  You can be sure that the answers along with some practical exercises to try out in the pool are detailed in my very popular book 'The Complete Beginners Guide To Swimming'. 

Click below to download a copy to your computer, tablet or mobile device.  Or, click here for more details


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It's difficult for me to take a breath. How can I swim with my head always over water? 'The easiest way to swim with your head out of the water is to swim Breaststroke.'

I find myself out of breath after swimming only two lengths at a time hard. 'Let us look at your breathing technique first: Ensure you are trickle breathing (blowing out/exhaling underwater)'

I badly need some help to regain my swimming confidence. I used to swim a lot but cannot do so now. I have lost my confidence. 'Returning to the swimming pool can be daunting, especially if it is after a long time or if you were perhaps not the strongest swimmer in the first place.'

I'm a beginner and would like to learn to swim quickly. Could you please give some helpful swimming tips? 'The speed at which you learn to swim will depend on your experience, your confidence level and how often you practice.'

I joined swimming and learnt to float within four days... 'Learning to float in 4 days is a fine achievement, and this tells me that you may be able to learn to swim in only a short time.'

I have been trying to learn to swim for a while, but I cannot get my legs straight behind me. Can you help? 'People find it hard to get their legs straight behind them because their head is too high.'

I want to learn to swim. I grew up where there were no pools to learn that safe. 'It is never too old to learn to swim, and the fact that you missed out on the opportunity when you were a child does not mean you cannot learn to swim now.'

To me, it's very important to learn to swim underwater. 'I almost drowned on Coney Island in Brooklyn at the age of 6. I was playing in the water on the beach and as I swam into the waves I was being slowly pulled out further by the current.'

I am a 35-year-old lady learning to swim for the first time. I have been to two lessons and feel like giving up.. 'First of all - don't give up! You have only had two lessons, and Rome was not built in a day.'

I am learning to swim at the age of 62. I can't seem to go forward in a straight line. I always seem to veer sideways. 'Veering off to one side whilst swimming, whether the full stroke or just kicking, is usually caused by one of two things:'

My friend is teaching me how to swim the strokes. I can swim them fine, but I have a problem when water gets up my nose. 'I think both of your nose problems are related and caused by a fundamental error with your breathing technique.'

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