How to get Started in 2020 and beyond.
Swimming is a skill that anyone can learn and yet, more than 50% of people don’t know how. If you are part of the majority that wishes to learn especially in 2020, then you’ve come to the right place. Your journey into swimming doesn’t have to be scary or confusing. Believe it or not, everyone has the potential to swim based on the right method.
Expectations VS Reality
Most of us want to jump into the water and swim effortlessly from one end of the pool to the other on a hot summer day. As wonderful as this sounds, the reality is quite the opposite. Most beginners find swimming to be intimidating, complicated and confusing. Swimming lessons tend to be boring and discouraging and a lot of students who train for months or even years quit out of frustration or lack of results.
Personally, I was one of these victims. As a child, I struggled to learn swimming for many years with little to no results. I was scared of the deep end, choked on gallons of pool water and enrolled in the same beginner level again and again for many years. It wasn’t until I became a teenager and set my sights towards becoming a lifeguard that things started to change. For months I began training myself at the pool everyday and started seeing results.
As I look back on my journey towards becoming a lifeguard I realized that swimming can be quite simple to learn. I was just given the wrong method. There is more than one way to learn swimming and my journey is proof of that. Knowing your needs plus your options is the best way to find the right approach for you. Before we discuss your options, let’s look at what you need to learn in order to swim.
3 Stages of Swimming
Every swimmer from complete beginner to advanced goes through three stages:
Stage 1: Comfort
Stage 2: Movement
Stage 3: Endurance
At stage 1, we are new to being in water and therefore have to learn how to be completely comfortable when submerged. In order to be comfortable underwater, we must master our breathing aka blowing bubbles. Breathing while swimming is very precise when compared to any dryland sport. Every breath must be measured, balanced and controlled in both the inhale and exhale portions. Without this, we cannot travel great distances or swim with consistency. Steady breathing and being relaxed underwater can be learned within a matter of days or sometimes weeks depending on a student’s comfort level. If a child or adult has a fear of drowning they will always need more time practicing and encouragement before moving onto the next stage.
Stage 2 is where most people struggle. At this stage, we begin shifting our focus from comfort to refining our movement in the water primarily in the form of four strokes:
Front crawl aka Freestyle
Back crawl aka Backstroke
Learning each stroke is like trying to be fluent in four different languages all at the same time. For a swimmer, the journey towards mastering each stroke can take several months or even years. On top of this, we have secondary movements to learn as well:
As you can see, the percentage of swimmers who complete stage 2 become smaller and smaller as seen in any local pool. Most swimmers never master all four strokes or secondary movements and instead casually skip to stage 3. Stage 3 is where we put everything we’ve learned in prior stages and test our performance in the form of continuous lap swimming. Here is where a swimmer can spend a lifetime training in order to increase his/her distance, speed or both.
At this stage, a swimmer can choose to compete, set personal goals or maintain a healthy lifestyle with regular practice. Where you take your swimming journey from here is totally up to you. Some choose to become competitive swimmers, others participate in triathlons and most choose to stay active and swim just to stay in shape. Now that we know the 3 stages of swimming, it’s time to discuss which method to learning is right for you.
Method 1: Traditional Lessons
Traditional swimming lessons at your local pool are the kind of classes so many of us love to hate. Sometimes that’s with good reason. I spent years of my childhood on this method, and had very little to show for it. Many of my students had similar experiences.
If you’re a team player and enjoy learning in a group environment for many years, traditional swimming lessons is probably your best bet.
- Learn in a classroom environment
- Develop friendships with classmates
- Creates a regular routine
- Very little to no results
- Outdated curriculum and teaching methods
- General not specific coaching involved
- Lots of students fail and repeat levels multiple times
- Too many students with little individual attention given
- Instructors are usually young and inexperienced
- Years of lessons can be expensive longterm
- No guarantee of becoming a better swimmer
Method 2: Private Coaching
For those who can’t stand traditional lessons and want instant results then hiring a private swim coach is a good alternative. For years I’ve coached thousands of private students of various backgrounds and swimming levels. Based on my experience, the difference between traditional versus private lessons is night and day.
- One on one attention
- Individual feedback and homework assignments given
- Custom workouts and drills offered
- Instant results
- More focus and energy required by the student
- Lots of self study required between sessions
- You have to find a coach that you enjoy working with and gets you results
- You will need a private pool or reserve a lane for training
If you prefer working one on one with an expert then private coaching in person or online is the way to go.
Method 3: Self-Guided Learning
This method is pretty new, but you can teach yourself how to swim like I did through self-discovery. The only difference is that back then there was no internet, no YouTube or swimming tutorials online for me to study compared to now. Teaching yourself to swim through trial and error with online resources is budget-friendly and offers flexibility for any schedule.
If you are go getter and patient enough to experiment and sift through a lot of unverified information then self-guided learning may be the right fit for you.
- Learn at your pace
- Usually no clearly outlined learning structure or lesson plan
- Too much online content to sift through
- No accountability to an instructor or coach
- Most online information is unverified
- No feedback given
- A lot of trial and error involved which requires patience
Method 4: Online Learning
The final method we’ll cover here can often be mistaken for the third method. Online learning through a program shares some similarities to self-guided learning. The resources are all online, and the learning structure is generally more flexible. But there are some differences that make online learning a better option for many folks.
Who might benefit the most from online learning?:
- Casual learners who want a flexible lesson schedule
- Busy adults who can’t commit to weekly traditional lessons
- People who have no interest in becoming professional swimmers
- Students who prefer to learn on the go via mobile devices
- Former swim students that wish to continue where they left off
- Beginners who are intimidated or frustrated with traditional lessons
- Anyone who would enjoy learning how to swim without a lot of hassle
- One teacher or teaching method for the whole program
- Clearly outlined goals and steps to learning
- A specific course sequence designed to achieve results
- Cheaper than longterm traditional lessons or private coaching
- Accessible from anywhere in the world with an internet connection
- Faster results
- Online support for students who have questions or need feedback or extra motivation
- No physical classroom setting
- Requires a laptop and internet connection
Which Method is Right for You?
There’s more than one way to learn how to swim. That said, only you can really decide which method is best for you. For me, it was self-guided learning because traditional lessons didn’t work and online learning wasn’t available to me back then. But if I had to start over I would choose the path of least resistance which in this case is through a proven online swimming course.
My question to you is: which method appeals the most to you as an individual? Which learning format makes the most sense for your needs? Let us know by leaving a quick comment below right now. No matter what you decide to do, I wish you all the best on your swimming journey. Thanks for reading!