How Many Swimming Lessons Do Adults Need?

How Many Swimming Lessons Do Adults Need

Just because you didn’t learn how to swim as a child doesn’t mean you can’t learn as an adult. In fact, you may be in a better position to learn now that you’re older.

Not knowing how to swim is nothing to be embarrassed about; according to Gallup, 11% of men and 22% of women in North America don’t know how to swim unassisted, with Europe and Oceania having similar stats. While the percentage looks small, that still means that tens of millions of people in developed countries are in the same boat of not knowing how to swim.

Thankfully, there is hope. Swimming is one of those sports where you can make tremendous progress in only a few weeks or months. It just depends on how much effort you’re willing to put in and the quality of your swim instructor.

It’s not unusual for adults to learn how to swim in 2-3 weeks’ time, assuming they are swimming everyday and under the guidance of a good swim instructor. This translates to about one or two dozen lessons. It can take longer if you want to spread the lessons further apart, but either way, any adult can eventually learn to swim as long as they put in the time and effort.

If this currently sounds like an insurmountable task for you, then please keep reading on and we will provide some tips to help you get comfortable with swimming and find the right swim instructor/class for you.

Don’t get caught up on how long or how many lessons it takes

While it’s true that there is data on how quickly people can be taught how to swim, I don’t think it’s prudent to look too deeply into it. It just creates an arbitrary deadline for you that adds pressure and stress.

For instance, even if the average time it takes is 2-3 weeks, or one to two dozen lessons to learn how to swim, there’s nothing wrong if you take longer than that. There have been people that learned how to swim in around 10 lessons or 2 weeks, and some people required 30 lessons over six weeks. One thing these people have in common is they all got there in the end.

Not everyone starts at the same starting point. Some people need to first work on overcoming their crippling fear of the water; others have had past swimming experience or no fear of the water, so they hit the ground running. These factors will skew how long it takes an “average” adult to learn how to swim.

Your initial goal of swimming should be to overcome your fear of the water (if you have that fear), and the other thing is to reach a point where swimming just “clicks” with you.

Once people realize that swimming is just propelling their arms and legs and using their natural buoyancy to stay afloat while conserving as much energy as possible, all the pieces fall into place.

This “aha” moment can turn the swimming lessons from a frustrating experience to one that you look forward to, because swimming is really darn fun once you “get it.” Below are some tips to help you quickly get to this moment.

Tips for adults learning how to swim

Start shallow

If you’ve feared being in the water all your life, you still need to start somewhere. Chances are what you fear is specifically water that is deeper than your height, but maybe you can start in shallow water that you can stand up in so it doesn’t trigger a panic attack.

Once you realize that you are perfectly safe, then you can progressively go to a deeper part of the pool as you get more comfortable. Another fear you should work on overcoming is the fear of submerging your face underwater.

You should get comfortable with doing that and holding your breath underwater, because the vast majority of the swimming strokes you’ll eventually learn involves having your face in the water.

Since you are in shallow water, if at any moment you feel very anxious, all you need to do is stand up straight and your head will be out of the water.

Keep spending time in the water

It is critically important that you step out of your comfort zone by spending more time in the water. Constant exposure to what you’re afraid of in a safe environment is the fastest way you can overcome your fear of it; in this case that means going to the pool more often.

You can read as many guides as you want, watch as many YouTube instructional videos as you want, but the most straightforward way to deal with it is to just stand in the shallow end of the pool and get used to the feeling of being in the water and all that entails.

You don’t even need to practice everyday if that is too overwhelming for you. Aim to go to the pool at least once or twice a week. If you allow more time than that to pass between sessions, then you may not be able to progress.

If you’re wondering, “why don’t I just go straight to taking swim lessons?” The answer is that you still need to practice on your own time. It’s just like school. After the teacher/lecturer teaches a lesson, you need to study on your own time; an instructor can only do so much for you, the rest is up to the student.

Plus, if you can largely overcome your fear of the water on your own, then you can drastically decrease how many lessons you need to take because you aren’t wasting a whole bunch of lessons just trying to overcome your fear. That said, if your fear is that intense, then by all means get some professional help.

Don’t rely too much on goggles or flotation devices

If you’re learning how to swim to decrease your chances of drowning, then you need to learn how to swim without goggles or a personal flotation device such as a life jacket.

Too many swimmers rely on them as a crutch, but what happens if you were to lose your goggles or not have a life jacket nearby? Can you still swim without them?

Relying too much on swimming equipment can affect you psychologically. It can instill a false sense of security, or conversely instill fear in you if you aren’t wearing them.

You could be a very capable swimmer, but if you rely on equipment as a crutch, you might panic and throw all the things you learned from the swimming lessons out the window the second you lose your goggles.

For this reason, you should occasionally practice swimming completely unassisted. In fact, your swim instructors will likely incorporate this into their lessons anyways, but it’s good to practice a bit more on your own.

How to find swimming lessons for adults

Thankfully, finding swimming lessons for adults is very simple. Simply go to a nearby swimming pool or recreation centre and ask if they offer swimming lessons for adults. Alternatively, you can google “Swim lessons for adults nearby” and get a bunch of hits.

What are the differences between swim lessons for kids compared to ones for adults? For one thing, they are typically scheduled later in the day where it’s much calmer and quieter. And if this is a group lesson, then you will be with other adults rather than kids, obviously.

Some lessons will take place at local pools, but others may teach at their own private pool or even your private pool. Private lessons are extremely effective, but they will cost a lot more than group lessons.

It’s important that you look at swimming lessons that specifically cater to people who are afraid of the water. Additionally, the instructor should be CPR certified, with years of experience teaching swimming lessons to adults, and should have a detailed learning plan available so you know just what you’re getting yourself into.

It is reasonable to ask to see the facility you plan on taking swimming lessons at, or even to observe a lesson. They may say no, but it’s worth asking. In fact, you should be asking lots of questions and bringing up any concerns. You’re essentially interviewing them; if they aren’t given you satisfactory answers, then look elsewhere.

If you’ve done your due diligence with regards to picking an instructor, all that’s left is to have faith in them and to apply what they are teaching on your own time. It’s never too late to learn how to swim, and no matter what your starting point is, I have not seen a single adult fail to learn how to swim as long as they put in the effort.