Fourth in a Series: Learning to Swim as an Adult
“Even though I’ve been at this for 5 years, it’s been worth it. Now I’m totally in love with swimming, and I try to go at least 4 days a week to keep practicing. I want to continue on as long as I can.” – Angela Bryant
Turning 40 and Setting a Goal
When Angela turned 40 she set a goal. She always wanted to learn how to swim. She tried when she was a kid in summer camp but it didn’t go anywhere. Plus, her parents didn’t swim, and her high school didn’t have a pool, so swimming was never a part of her life. But with her 40th birthday approaching, she decided to just do it. “I always liked being by water,” she says. “So I thought it was a good opportunity for me to go for it.”
On To Private Lessons
Angela started with private lessons elsewhere, but then did some research online and found Chicago Blue Dolphins. “I liked the fact that they don’t push you to use a kickboard or any equipment. It’s just you and the water.” After finding Chicago Blue Dolphins, Angela has had a great experience. “I’ve been learning a lot from the different instructors there. They’ve been very patient and wonderful and very encouraging.”
Overcoming Her Fear
For Angela, the hardest part of learning to swim was overcoming the mental fear. “I didn’t have a fear of putting my head under water. It was more the floating,” she says. “I couldn’t let go of the side of the pool to relax enough to float. I finally overcame that fear, and letting go of the side of the pool was one of my proudest moments.” At Chicago Blue Dolphins, we helped Angela through drills to build up her confidence to move further and further away from the side of the pool. “Now, I can be in the middle of the pool and not even want to touch the wall,” Angela says.
Five Years Later
“Even though I’ve been at this for 5 years now, it’s been worth it!” Angela is now working on endurance to try to swim the full length of the pool and is swimming in a pool that goes up to 11-ft deep. Not only is she working on her freestyle and elementary backstroke, she can also tread water for up to 1 minute. “I also want to eventually learn the breast stroke and the competitive backstroke,” she says.
Sense of Accomplishment
The end result of her lessons and learning? Angela has fallen in love with swimming. “I love being in the water,” she says. “I love the sense of accomplishment, and I want to continue to take it higher. Eventually, I would like to do a U.S. Masters Swim Meet.”
It’s Never Too Late To Learn To Swim
What does Angela recommend to other adults who want to learn to swim? “At Chicago Blue Dolphins, Coach Fitz, Coach Elia and all the coaches have been wonderful,” says Angela. “I definitely recommend it. I really wish I had learned when I was younger. It’s definitely hard to learn as you get older but it’s definitely worth persevering through. It’s never too late to learn to swim.”
(** Note: We sincerely appreciate Angela sharing her story with us. We’d like to emphasize that many adults who cannot swim are embarrassed by that fact. They often feel like they’re alone, when in fact, that’s not the reality at all. The American Red Cross estimates that 54 percent of Americans cannot swim or have not mastered all five of the basic swimming skills.)