Overcome Your Fear of the Water
If you’re reading this, you or someone you know is afraid of water. You might be afraid to swim or be near water. This fear might have held you back your entire life from enjoying the pool on a warm day, swimming in the ocean on holiday, or enjoying water-related activities with your friends like bodyboarding or snorkeling.
If you or someone you know has some fear of the water (known as aquaphobia), you’re not alone. Fear of deep water is one of the top ten fears in the United States (according to a 2010 survey). Moreover, a 1998 Gallup poll showed 64% of adults in the US are fearful of open water, 46% are afraid to enter deep-water pools, and 39% fear placing their heads underwater.
You don’t have to feel afraid forever. You can regain your confidence and enjoy the water again.
Causes for Aquaphobia
According to Lifecycle Aquatics, there are four major reasons you might be afraid of deep water or swimming in the pool:
Subconscious fears: you were either born with this fear or you don’t remember why you became afraid. Some phobias can be genetically inherited.
Negative experience: it’s possible a bad experience in the water increased your fear; perhaps you were pushed in, fell in, nearly drowned, or witnessed someone drowning.
Learned fears: fear can be transmitted from a caregiver. It’s possible one of your parents or caregivers was afraid of the water and you adopted their fear.
Lack of exposure: a lack of experience can make you afraid to try something. Maybe you grew up far away from an ocean or never had access to a swimming pool, so now your lack of experience makes you afraid to get in (or near) the water.
Symptoms of Aquaphobia
It’s difficult to overcome a fear of water because your fear often causes emotional and physical symptoms. You might feel panic or anxiety when you’re in or even near the water. This panic may make you shake, tremble, cry, increase your heart rate, or hyperventilate.
So how can you overcome these physical and emotional symptoms that are preventing you from learning to swim or enjoying water activities?
There are a number of ways to help overcome your aquaphobia. You can try one or all of these techniques to help build your confidence.
According to healthline.com, you can try exposure therapy or cognitive behavioral therapy to overcome your fear of the water.
Exposure Therapy: In exposure therapy, you are exposed to water many times and a therapist will help track your emotions and feelings.
Cognitive-behavioral therapy: In this therapy, you’ll learn to challenge your beliefs and develop strategies to cope.
2) Swimming Courses
One way to overcome aquaphobia is to become confident and comfortable in the water. The Miracle Swimming Institute offers a course created by Melon Dash, author of Conquer Your Fear of Water.
In her book and course, you learn to master the “nuts and bolts of being comfortable in the water.” It’s not about strokes. You’ll learn to master the basic skills like floating, getting up from a float, and other essentials of being in the water.
3) Swim Aids
When learning to be confident and comfortable in the water, consider using swim aids to help you float. Swim aids come in two kinds: buoyant suits you can wear or buoyant devices you can hold on to.
Buoyant Suits: Buoyant suits allow you to swim while supporting you above the water so you can float with less effort. Adults and kids might look at flotation wetsuits, like the Floater®. Younger children (ages 0-2) could try a float suit. Either buoyant suit is great for learning to swim due to its built-in flotation that keeps you above the water and the suit design, which gives your arms and legs freedom of movement.
Buoyant Devices: Buoyant devices are great to hold on to when you need a little extra support in the pool or ocean. Two common buoyant devices are pool noodles and kickboards. Pool noodles are long pieces of plastic foam you can hold on to when swimming or snorkeling. Some can support up to 300 pounds. If you’re just learning to swim, kickboards are a great device for swimming support or practicing your kicks.