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Is there any hope for me?

(63 Posts)
GreenGran78 Mon 21-Oct-19 22:19:46

I was never taken to the baths, as a child, so never learned to swim. A friend persuaded me to go with her, in my early teens, and someone pushed me into the diving pool, which gave me a phobia about water. To make matters worse, my brother was drowned when I was 18.
I have taken two swimming courses at our local pool, some years ago, but such panic welled up every time I tried to follow instructions, that I got absolutely nowhere.
Now, at the age of 80, I am wondering if it is worth invested in some one-to-one lessons. They are quite expensive, and I would probably be wasting my money, but my DD in Australia has just bought a house with a swimming pool. I would love to amaze her by casually going for a swim, next time I visit.
Has anyone else overcome this phobia, at a fairly advanced age? Would I be wasting my time and money? I feel so stupid, not being able to swim. My head says, “Do this, and this, and you will swim just like everyone else.” My instincts say, “Keep your feet on the bottom, or you’ll drown!”
Is there any hope for me?

Oopsminty Mon 21-Oct-19 22:23:53

Go for it, GreenGran78.

My neighbour was slightly younger than you, 72 I think. She would take her grandchildren swimming and longed to be able to swim herself

After chatting with the teacher she had one to one lessons and is now a daily swimmer at the local gym

MawB Mon 21-Oct-19 22:26:51

I am exactly like you.
I tried small group lessons some years ago and got on quite well until the instructor said he was going to take us to a deeper pool to teach us to tread water and I panicked, gave up and have never tried again since.
I am 71 and had an uncle who took up swimming in his 60’s/70’s , improving his fitness and probably extending his life by many years as he eventually died aged 94.
Still wimping our though. My Advice?
Go for it!

MissAdventure Mon 21-Oct-19 22:30:30

I wonder if you could try hypnosis for phobias?

It would be great to just surprise your family by jumping in the pool! smile

Urmstongran Mon 21-Oct-19 22:32:26

I think it’s your (understandable) phobia that will hold you back. Perhaps try desensitisation first then the lessons?

That said, you’ve lost nothing by just putting on that swimsuit and trying one lesson to see how it makes you feel. Focus on how amazed and proud of you your family will be. Do it for them!

Good luck!

Urmstongran Mon 21-Oct-19 22:33:23

X posts MissA

MissAdventure Mon 21-Oct-19 22:35:56

Great minds think alike, Urmston smile

BradfordLass72 Tue 22-Oct-19 00:35:31

I'm a life-long swimmer and at my local pool there are several ladies who simply walk around the edges of the shallow end, feet on the floor. They are accustoming themselves to the water, its depth, feel and, of course, their own apprehensions before taking lessons.

If this is available to you, try this first.

We are well-supplied with many different pools, temperatures and depths, so if you have a choice, choose a warm, shallower therapy pool and most of all Don't let anyone push or persuade you faster than you want to go this is vitally important.

I hope you get that Aussie swim, you'll enjoy it - and how brave of you to even FLY to Australia - hats off to you.

Sara65 Tue 22-Oct-19 06:59:26


I sympathise, I never learned to swim at school, despite there being a swimming pool.

I never really bothered much about it till I had children of my own, and was envious of my husband playing around in the pool with them. So I decided to have one on one lessons, I must have had one a week for several years, and I never could swim, I was terrified of being out of my depth, and couldn’t bear my face underwater. Frankly, I was a lost cause.

But it’s something I would still love to be able to do, so I’d say, go for it, you’ll be so proud if you can take your grandchildren swimming.

By the way, one of my children swam to quite a high level, and is now a coach, and her children all swim competitively, so it’s definitely not hereditary!

Good luck

Sillygrandma5GK Tue 22-Oct-19 07:22:11

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

annsixty Tue 22-Oct-19 07:34:03

I advise you to try it as you really have an incentive.
However nothing will get me into water.
I hyperventilated as I walked down those steps and would have to get straight back out again.
I made sure both our children learnt very early, both before they were five and they are both good swimmers as are the GC but it just wasn't for me.
We have had several holidays with our own pool and I thought I might try again but it was no use.
Go for it and let us know.

ninathenana Tue 22-Oct-19 08:21:44

Just shows how different we all are.

I remember my dad plucking me from the sea after a wave knocked me off my feet. I can still see the water above my head and remember floundering for a minute or so and being scared. I must have been 4-5 at the time.
Has it put me off ? No, I love swimming and am happy to swim under the surface. I spent many happy hours at the pool growing up.
This is not a criticism of those that are phobic. It's just my observation of how we react differently. I could so easily have become scared of water.

M0nica Tue 22-Oct-19 08:29:52

Phobias are very different from just being scared and are difficult to overcoem - but not impossible.

Could you go for some counselling first to help you deal with the phobic elements of your fear of swimming. Perhaps some of the techniques used to deal with flying phobia might help you, then have one to one lessons with a teacher who really understands phobic reactions and can be very gentle with you.

midgey Tue 22-Oct-19 08:49:11

Greengran it would 100% be worth doing! Swimming here cannot be compared to a pool in Australia, so all your hard work here will be so rewarded! Go for it!

BlueSapphire Tue 22-Oct-19 09:25:56

Didn't learn to swim till I was in my 40s, but even then it was a very gentle breast stroke doing widths across the shallow end as I was terrified of being out of my depth. Did try a length, but when I realised I couldn't touch the bottom I panicked and reached for the side where I clung on for dear life!
I'm still the same, and still terrified. The rest of the family can swim like fish, including the DGDs.
But I think you should go for it GreenGran, you have a good reason and the motivation. Surprise your DD!

Grannyknot Tue 22-Oct-19 09:34:29

GreenGran there is plenty of hope for you. My recently widowed neighbour decided to learn to swim at 72, because since being on her own, she is included on holidays with her daughter and SIL to resorts that have swimming pools and she felt left out when the whole family were in the pool. So she started to take 1 to 1 lessons about 4 months ago. She is tiny by the way! About 5'. She was also 'terrified' at the thought of being out of her depth.

But with a patient swimming teacher ( and a noodle grin ) ...

she proudly came to show me a video last week of her swimming breast stroke across a pool - on a cruise!

You can do it too!

Good luck.

Teetime Tue 22-Oct-19 09:49:15

I decided to learn to swim as a challenge to myself when I was 60. It gave me a great sense of achievement and was money well spent. I would go for it greengran78 the idea of a pool in Australia is a great incentive. Good Luck.

Calendargirl Tue 22-Oct-19 10:22:17

I don’t know if there are Aquacise classes at your pool, but some non-swimmers attend these at ours, keep very much to the shallow end obviously, but makes them feel part of it and hopefully builds up their confidence.
One newish lady has started going, and after the class she practises on her own with floats. I’m sure if she had lessons, she would soon be away.
My advice would be to go for it. If you don’t, you will always wonder what might have been.

polnan Tue 22-Oct-19 10:33:32

wow, go for it,, what will it hurt to try! such wondrous times are ahead for us 80 year olds! I quite envy you being able to travel to Australia... what fun! what an adventure! hope you can report back to us in due course. you inspire me!

B9exchange Tue 22-Oct-19 10:34:08

Neither DH nor I can swim. He isn't really afraid of water, and I did pay for him to have a week's residential swimming course, which you might think would have cracked it, but no, he can take his feet off the botton and glide, but can't breathe whilst swimming, no-one has been able to teach him that.

I do have a real fear of my head going under. When I was 8 I moved to a school with its own outdoor pool. We had to go in when the temperature was above 50 degrees F, it was freezing and I have always felt the cold anyway. On my first lesson we were told to join hands and play ring a ring a roses. The girls on either side of me held me down under the water and I have been terrified ever since. I had ten years of lessons and nothing worked.

I can get into the water if it is above 27 degrees C, and even take my feet off the bottom with a noodle under my arms, but that is as far as it goes. I would love to be able to swim, but my fear is very much greater!

cookiemonster66 Tue 22-Oct-19 10:34:12

I also have a phobia, one that makes me hyperventilate to the point of being sick, then passing out unconscious/fainting. The Dr suggested some CBT (cognitive behaviour therapy) which gives you tools for when you start to panic, and therefore then overcome the fear. Similar to mindfulness for relaxing back down when in panic mode. I think get to the root of the problem first, learn these techniques, then the lessons will be more productive, because if they prove unsuccessful again it reinforces the negative feelings towards your swimming.

mimismo Tue 22-Oct-19 10:37:13

I swim regularly even tho I don't like to put my face in the water. I mostly do backstroke, with the occasional length of breaststroke. It took me a while to adjust to the pool as you can't touch the bottom but the floating lane markers give you something to grab if necessary. You have to be able to relax in the water or you'll sink like a stone! Try floating on your back as if you were going to sleep. It's an amazing feeling, really! Go for it!

Bbbface Tue 22-Oct-19 10:46:03

Lots to gain
Nothing to lose

Rosina Tue 22-Oct-19 10:46:05

How I empathise - I was pushed into the pool at school, aged six, by a teacher who got annoyed at my reluctance to jump in - I couldn't swim - and had to be hauled out choking and gasping. I did learn to swim but have never been able to jump in. That is enough - add to that the tragic loss of your brother and I am hardly surprised at your phobia. However - we are never too old to try anything (within reason!) so I say go for it GreenGran - how you will enjoy a swim, and the suggestion of having some therapy to get over your fear is such a good idea. Try - you will always regret it if you don't. Good luck! x

paintingthetownred Tue 22-Oct-19 10:54:53

I am full of admiration on this one at your bravery for even considering it.

Sounds like you have the motivation. Slowly does it. We remember that story about the tortoise and the hare?

I can swim (though not particularly well). I have a different challenge than you over the next few years...I started learning to drive years ago, but had a few less than positive experiences, but would really like to have another go.

It's never too late!
all best