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Learning to Swim Is Like Learning a New Language

Learning to Swim Is Like Learning a New Language

Mark Warkentin, head swim coach for the Santa Barbara Swim Club, writes that learning how to swim is a lot like learning a new language: 

The language of "the water" becomes more challenging to learn later in life, but that doesn't mean that learning it shouldn't be attempted.  The biggest obstacle for all new swimmers, when learning the language, whether they are young or old, is overcoming our natural instinct to feel anxiety in the water. 

Humans are not designed to feel naturally comfortable in the water, so our central nervous system keeps us on edge when we are learning how to swim. This natural anxiety is good for the new swimmer because it keeps us alert in a potentially dangerous situation, but it prevents us from feeling comfortable in the water. As a result of feeling uncomfortable, many new swimmers fight against the water rather then blend into the water. 

What's the solution? Just like learning a language, the best way to learn the langue of the water is to immerse yourself in the pool on a consistent basis. It won't happen overnight, but, eventually, your learned behaviors will override your natural instincts and you'll feel more comfortable. You may never understand the language of the water as well as Michael Phelps, but you'll be fluent enough to have a great conversation.

Inspired? Join Our Free Adult Learn to Swim Program This Month!


Sundays from 2:30–3:30PM at Los Baños Pool, 401 Shoreline Drive

Starts October 30, 2016

How to Sign Up

Send an email to Amber Workman at to get signed up today!

Last Updated: Mar 15, 2018
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