How to Learn to Swim as an Adult

No matter how old you are, you can learn to swim.

No matter how old you are, you can learn to swim.

While learning to swim is often thought of as an activity accomplished during childhood, fear of water and lack of access to swimming pools lead many children to grow up into adults that do not know how to swim. In fact, adult swimming website Swimmunity states that 60 percent of U.S. adults have not learned this skill. With the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reporting 10 drowning deaths every day, swimming is an important life-saving skill as well as a recreational skill. As an adult who does not swim, you might feel embarrassed or frustrated by your inability to swim. However, armed with the right resources, you can soon be on your way comfortably splashing around in the water.

Find adult beginner swimming lessons near you. iSport recommends working with a professional instructor to keep you motivated when things get tough. Look for a class or private lessons that fit your needs in terms of the number of sessions per week and the number of total sessions. When researching classes, determine if you will learn to swim in shallow or deep water. As a beginner you might feel more comfortable in shallow water, but if you like to jump into things full force, a lot of deep water lessons might be best for you.

Ease your fears. If you fear being in the water or are scared to let go of your kickboard, look into getting a swim buddy. Team up with an adult friend who also wants to learn to swim, or join an adult swim club that welcomes beginners. Joining a water aerobics class can also be a good way to get comfortable in the water before learning to swim. These classes provide a workout in shallow water and do not require swimming skills.

Invest in good swimming gear. A well-fitting streamlined swimsuit, goggles and a swim cap for long hair are recommended by Swimmunity. If applicable, flip-flops for the locker room and a nose plug are also recommended, as well as a towel if the swimming facility does not provide them.

Learn the basics. The breast stroke, back stroke, freestyle stroke and the doggy paddle are popular swimming strokes for beginning swimmers. Each of these uses either the basic flutter kick or frog kick, which, once mastered, will be the foundation for learning your first swimming strokes.

Practice what you learn on your own. In addition to time spent in swimming lessons, plan for practice sessions in between lessons. This more you practice, the faster you can acquire the swimming skills you desire.

Spend some time watching instructional swimming videos and DVDs. Viewing different swimming strokes and techniques is essential to learning the skills involved in swimming, according to swim website Total Immersion. Having these images imprinted in your mind will help guide you as you practice.

Items you will need

  • Goggles
  • Swim cap
  • Lap-swimming suit
  • Instructional DVDs or videos for beginner swimmers


  • Be sure to always choose a pool with a lifeguard on duty or get in the water with a friend who is an expert swimmer in case you need help.

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About the Author

Shawna Van Trease has been a freelance copy editor and writer since 2007. She has written extensively for private clients, including market research and website development firms. Van Trease holds a Master of Arts in social work from the University of Chicago.

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