Fear ofvswimming in the deep end ( history of panic)

V

Viao

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Hi all,

I am a new member here and I am overjoyed to have found this place. I have many mental issues to be managed but here I'd like to talk about this one problem that has been bothering me for a while.

I recently learned swimming as an adult with a trainer and thanks to a plethora of free resources out there I can wade in the shallow end of the pool without any problem. I can easily swim 50 ft front crawl with a decent form but every time the trainer asks me to swim a few feet across the deeper end I freeze with fear. Actually the deeper part of the pool measures about 15ft in length with a depth of 6' ( I measure 5'8"). As soon as I try swimming in the deeper end I tend to panic and forget every skill I learnt. I know the fear is irrational because my
trainer would save me if in case I forget to move my limbs and begin to drown. He also reiterates the same thing every time but I don't have the courage to get past the "pool comfort zone". Fed up with my reluctance to give my courage a try despite his repeated reassurances he has given up on me and I am now doing laps in the shallow end.

Actually the root of this deep-end phobia is an incident that dates back to 5 years ago when I accidentally swallowed water in the middle of the pool and started to panic. I somehow managed to make my way to the ladder and get out. After this horrible experience I quit swimming altogether. I forgot to mention that I had taught myself swimming with some help from my friends and could tread water for hours without problem in the pools as deep as 15'

I really want to get out of this fear and swim freely. I also want to go underwater and float on my back without worrying about the depth of the floor underneath. I am quite aware that the fear is all in my mind but as soon as I am conscious that I am moving towards the deep end my emotional self overpowers my rational self and takes control.

What do you think would be the best solutuon to the problem? There are lots of resources on aquaphobia but I haven't come across a single dealing with cases similar to mine. Can anyone point me towards books I would benefit from? Do you think I should visit a therapist/hypnotherapist?

Thanks.
 
LizBo

LizBo

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Hi and welcome @Viao :welcome:

In Oz we learn to swim at school as young as 5 and is a sporting activity every week each Summer. In high school we compete at carnivals coordinated by the school, so Aussie's are usually proficient swimmers.

Can I suggest you try swimming on your back (back stroke) to avoid knowing the depth of the water? This provides a different perspective and focus while swimming.

Practice in the shallows first until you're confident. As with steps to treat phobia's, (desensitization therapy) you swim one metre further (one or two strokes) each time along the wall until you reach the deep end. If you panic you have the edge to hang on to.

If you have a friend who could be your 'spotter' while walking along side and encouraging you, it might also help.

Again, welcome. Hope your stay here is valuable and enjoyable.

Cheers;
Liz
 
OCDguy

OCDguy

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Could being pressured into swimming in that area also be part of the problem? Just take your time, enjoy your time in the water, and should you want to swim a little towards that area, use your own discretion. Feeling safe and relaxed and enjoying what you are doing has got to be more important wouldn't you agree?
 
midnightphoenix

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Hi and welcome :welcome:

I agree with what others have said :hug:

we are happy to have you here :hug:

i personally cannot swim, my arms and legs do not work together in water :redface:
 
OCDguy

OCDguy

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You aren't alone, I can't swim either. I think constantly being pressured in school just made me hate the thought of going swimming. If I had been left to my own devices who knows...
 
midnightphoenix

midnightphoenix

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You aren't alone, I can't swim either. I think constantly being pressured in school just made me hate the thought of going swimming. If I had been left to my own devices who knows...
yeah if I'd been on the titanic i would be one of the ones who drowned, that i am sure of :redface:
 
OCDguy

OCDguy

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Never too late to learn though ;) I am contemplating it. If I do it will be at my pace, not one dictated by others' :)
 
V

Viao

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Thank you all for your response.

@Liz
You're probably right about floating on my back to take my attention away from the fear of depth; however my main problem is as soon as my mind is unsure about the depth below, I start to panic and stop swimming immedeately to verify if I am in my safe zone. I dread while visualizing myself in a scenario where I am backfloating when a kid comes from nowhere, bumps against me and I start drowning as I would be incapable to move my limbs due to panic.

Moreover, unlike other mental issues it's really hard to face the irrational fear head-on in this case because goofing-up means drowing, resulting into either a highly embarassong situation ( if you're saved by your trainer or the life guard), or Death!
 
V

Viao

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Could being pressured into swimming in that area also be part of the problem?
Yes, kindof. I am thinking ofo joining the army in the near future and I gotta learn swimming.
 
LizBo

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Hey again @Viao

I thought swimming was a recreation goal for you but it's more complex.

To my knowledge, the army doesn't just expect you to swim the length of a pool, they also require you to be able to save someone else, and be saved yourself. (Life Saving Certificate) It can be dangerous for both if the victim struggles too much. I've even had my own situation where the person I was trying to pull toward the shallows pulled me down with him. If it wasn't for my training neither of us would be here to tell the story.

If I were you, I'd hunt for a specialist swim coach who'll help you using desensitization therapy. Trying to do this alone is a big ask considering your fears. I really feel you need professional help. :hug1:
 
Heidrun

Heidrun

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Weird how I am always ashamed of the fact that I cannot swim but there are actually a lot of people who cannot swim. I didn't swim for about 7-8 years and this summer I finally made the step as well, terrifying it was but wow that feeling of the water on the muscles is relaxing.

I still am feared to swim in water that is to deep to stand, every time I cross the "stand-boundary" I panic and swallow water. Also going under is very terrifying.

I know for fact that in my case it's a mental thing, because if I don't see how deep it is (swimming from shallow to deep) I do not panic anymore. But whenever I try to put my feet down and there's no bottom,I panic.
 
N

natalie

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Interesting that this thread should arise.

I have always been fearful of swimming in the deep end, since I was little, and then older school, so when the instructor took me at the deep end, yep, you've guessed, that just wasn't it, and I created emotionally, and that I wished to get out of the pool joking on serious note to follow as fast as I could manage to, bearing in mind, very wet, and as I always susceptible, always could catch a cold very quickly.

These years, if at all, and for relaxing purposes, and when away on hols, I get in to the jacuzzi.


Less fearful.
 
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