Step-by-Step Tutorial: Building Water Confidence from Scratch

Alex Ortiz
By Alex Ortiz 9 Min Read
9 Min Read

Hey there! Have you ever wondered why some people are super comfortable in the water while others are a bit nervous? Let’s chat about it!

What’s Water Confidence Anyway?

Now, you might think water confidence is all about swimming, but it’s more than just doing the butterfly or backstroke. Imagine you’re really good at riding a bike on your street, but then you get nervous if you’re biking on a busy road. It’s kinda like that with water too!

True water confidence is feeling cool and in control, whether you’re in a pool, a lake, or the big open sea. It’s about handling anything water throws at you (literally and figuratively).

Here’s a story: I know this awesome swimmer, like, really good. One day, she was swimming in the ocean, and the waves got all crazy. She lost sight of the shore and started panicking. But guess what? Her training kicked in. She floated, calmed down, and swam back safely. That’s real water confidence. Not just swimming, but handling those unexpected water surprises!

Why Do Some of Us Get the Water Wobbles?

Water can be unpredictable, so it’s normal to be a bit cautious. Some of us are a bit more scared, though. Maybe it’s because of a past splashy mishap, or perhaps we never had someone show us the ropes in the pool.

I remember my days of being super nervous in deep water. Even when I became a good swimmer, the deep end still gave me the jitters. It’s kinda like a puzzle of the mind and how it remembers past water adventures (or misadventures).

Diving Deep into Your Memories

Looking back can sometimes help us figure out our water worries. For me, two things popped up:

1. Those Tricky Swimming Lessons

When I was 9, I joined a swimming class. Most kids were ahead of me. They were flipping and turning, while I was just trying to figure out a kickboard. This made me feel a bit left out, and soon, deep water became this big, scary monster in my mind.

2. Growing Up Near Water

Living near beautiful lakes and rivers sounds cool, right? But I was always told to steer clear. They became places of danger rather than beauty. Carrying that feeling into adulthood? Not so fun.

So, if you’re curious about your own water worries, try thinking back. What memories or stories come up? Sometimes, understanding where our fears come from can be the first step to conquering them!

1. Understand Your Fear

Firstly, it’s totally okay to feel scared. Whether it’s deep water, waves, or just being in the pool, everyone’s fear is valid. But, just a quick reminder: always stick to safe places like pools with lifeguards and have a trusted friend with you. Safety first!

2. The Group Classes Misadventure

I once tried group swim lessons. Guess what? They didn’t work for me. They weren’t designed for folks with water fears. And, well, pushing myself too hard only made things scarier. But here’s the silver lining: this taught me what not to do!

3. The Power of Positive Thinking: CBT

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) is like a workout for your mind. You train it to think happy, positive thoughts instead of scary ones. Imagine if every time you felt scared, you told yourself: “I got this!” That’s kinda what CBT is all about. I haven’t tried it face-to-face, but I’ve listened to some super-helpful CBT audiobooks. They helped change my mindset.

4. Baby Steps with Exposure Therapy

Exposure therapy is like dipping your toes before jumping in. For me, it started with looking at pool pictures, thinking how pretty and blue they were. Then, watching swimmers on video, making it look so fun! Slowly, I went from the shallow end to the deep, enjoying the water bit by bit. When I felt comfy, I even practiced in a shallow hotel pool. It felt safe and helped me build confidence.

5. Accepting It’s a Mind Game

Even after getting good at swimming, I sometimes still felt scared. But guess what? Recognizing that it’s all in the mind helps a lot. The more I exposed myself to deep water, the more comfortable I became. The key? Patience and baby steps.

How Do You Build Water Confidence?

Feeling shaky about stepping into the pool or ocean? Building water confidence is a lot like building muscles – with time, patience, and practice. Here’s a blueprint to help you feel more at home in the water:

1. Dive into a Swim Club

Joining a swim club is like having a fitness family. It’s a safe space where you can practice, meet fellow swimmers, and slowly shake off those water jitters.

2. Keep a Swim Diary

Logging your swims is like taking selfies of your progress. Over time, you’ll see yourself getting better and staying in the deep end longer. Seeing how far you’ve come can be super motivating!

3. Embark on a Swim Quest

Having a clear mission can keep you pumped. Challenges, like the “Swim The English Channel” virtual event, can keep you motivated. You’ll have a target, and every stroke takes you closer to it.

4. Polish Your Weak Spots

Everyone has their water Achilles heel, whether it’s a shaky backstroke or a fear of deep ends. Identify yours and make it your project. With focus, that weakness can turn into a strength.

5. Learn Water Survival Skills

Confidence comes with knowing you can handle tough situations. Learn the “Float To Live” technique or similar survival skills. Remember, it’s not just about swimming but also staying safe.

6. Make Pool Visits a Habit

Like any skill, the more you practice, the better you get. Regular dips can help improve your comfort level, swimming technique, and muscle memory.

7. Take the Dive (Literally)

Diving can be exhilarating! Whether it’s free diving or scuba, diving immerses you in water, teaching you to navigate depths and breathe comfortably.

8. Befriend Underwater Time

Start in the shallow end, dipping your head under. Get comfy with exhaling underwater and the sensation of being submerged. And always have a buddy with you for safety. It’s not about depth but familiarity.

9. Invest in Clear Vision

A solid pair of anti-fog goggles can be game-changing. Seeing clearly underwater can remove the fear of the unknown and give you a clearer (pun intended) perspective of your environment.

10. Master Water Drills

There are specific drills designed to boost water confidence. From floating exercises to ‘drown-proofing’, practicing these drills can be your stepping stone to water mastery.

Lastly, remember it’s a journey. Everyone’s pace is different, and that’s okay. Celebrate the little victories, and soon, you’ll find yourself swimming with confidence! 🏊‍♂️💦


Building water confidence is a journey that requires patience, practice, and perseverance. From joining a swim club to investing in quality goggles, there are multiple avenues to help individuals feel more at ease in the water. It’s essential to recognize that everyone’s pace and comfort level will vary, and that’s perfectly okay. The key is to remain committed, celebrate small achievements, and always prioritize safety. Over time, with consistent effort, the vast expanse of water can transform from a source of anxiety to a playground of joy and relaxation. Dive in and let the transformative power of water shape your confidence! 🌊

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Why is water confidence important for adults?

A: Water confidence is important for adults as it promotes safety and enjoyment during water activities. It helps overcome fear and develop swimming skills, leading to a healthier lifestyle.

Q: How can I overcome my fear of water as an adult?

A: Overcoming fear of water as an adult requires patience and gradual exposure. Start with shallow water, practice breathing techniques, and take swimming lessons with a supportive instructor to build confidence gradually.

Q: Are there any relaxation techniques that can help ease anxiety in the water?

A: Yes, there are relaxation techniques that can help ease anxiety in the water. Deep breathing exercises, visualization, and progressive muscle relaxation can all aid in reducing anxiety and promoting a sense of calmness.

Q: How can I improve my swimming skills as an adult?

A: Improving swimming skills as an adult involves regular practice, refining techniques, and seeking guidance from swimming coaches/instructors. Setting specific goals, such as learning different strokes or increasing endurance, can also help in skill development.

Q: Are there any safety tips to keep in mind while building water confidence?

A: Yes, ensuring safety is essential while building water confidence. Always swim in designated areas with lifeguards present, avoid swimming alone, stay hydrated, and be aware of your swimming abilities and limitations. Using flotation devices can provide extra reassurance.

Q: How long does it take to build water confidence as an adult?

A: The time it takes to build water confidence as an adult varies for each individual. It depends on factors such as the level of fear, previous experiences, commitment to practice, and learning pace. With consistent effort and practice, most adults can gradually increase their water confidence within a few weeks to several months.

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