How to overcome Aquaphobia

On average about nine people die from drowning in non-boat related incidents every day in the United States, according the National Safety Council.  

Parents can keep children safe by always having a supervisor watch them when they’re in or around water, whether that’s a pool, lake, river or bathtub. As children get older, swimming lessons can help them feel comfortable in the water and teach them potentially life-saving swimming skills.

Adults can stay safe in water by swimming with a lifeguard present, not swimming alone and never swimming when intoxicated. Adults who can’t tread water for a few minutes or swim 25 yards without stopping should be cautious around water and strongly consider swim lessons.

Of the 19.2 million American adults who are diagnosed with a phobia, the fear of water – or Aquaphobia – is one of the most common. Aquaphobia is typically developed during childhood, but there are tactics that can prevent it.

If you, your child or anyone you know has a fear swimming, you can stop it from developing into a lifelong issue with the following three tips. Remember, these tips should be done with a friend, family member or swim instructor present.

1. Deal with the panic

Address your fear by gradually entering a pool and letting your body get used to the feeling of the water. Begin by slowly stepping in a shallow end of a pool and start at standing knee deep in the water. Once you’re in the shallow end of a pool, focus on feeling the of the water on your skin.

Slowly continue to walk around until you’re relieved of the initial tension, panic and fear. Once comfortable with knee deep water, slowly move to waist deep and then chest deep in the water.

2. Face the water

In a shallow end of the pool, hold one hand onto a railing or edge of the pool and pinch your nose with the other hand and gently dip your face in the water. Repeat dipping your face in the water until you feel the tension and fear fade.

Once comfortable with your face under water, try blowing bubbles under the water without pinching your nose. Remember to be patient with yourself –  this is a big step for overcoming Aquaphobia.

3. Get comfortable with the deep end

Remember to be patient with yourself and only progress to entering the deep end of a pool when you’re ready – don’t force it. Working up to floating or treading water in the deep end can take years.

If you’re ready to enter the deep end, start by dangling your legs over the edge of the pool and gradually slide into the water, while holding onto the edge. While holding on to the edge, practice kicking and focus on the feeling of holding your weight up right in the water.

While these tips can help children or adults overcome Aquaphobia – swimming lessons are the best way to learn techniques to tread water and swim safely.

Click here to find a certified adult swim instructor in your area.


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Claire McDaniel

Claire is a swimming and nutrition expert who loves to educate and motivate others to healthier living. She swam competitively for 18 years, is a five time All-American, a Division I National Champion, was co-captain of Team USA at the 2007 World University Games and was named a finalist for the NCAA Woman of the Year Award. She also has a master’s degree in nutrition and is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist. After swimming, Claire started coaching and has coached all over the US and even in Switzerland! Her experience and expertise about both swimming and health fuel her passion for Clear Comfort’s mission – to make swimming a 100 percent healthy activity for swimmers, coaches, lifeguards and pool staff.