Swimming Pool Blog

Adult Swim: Learn to Swim America!

Adult Swim: Learn to Swim America!
by Rob Cox, July 13, 2012

Adult Swim: Learn to Swim America!

adults learning to swim at the YMCAAccording to Swimmunity, nearly 35-50% of U.S. adults cannot swim. The number increases among minority adults to over 60%. “Each day in the United States, 10 unintentional drownings occur – 70% of them are adults.”

Many of America's non-swimming adults confess an embarrassment at being adult learners, or having to wear a swimming suit, maybe for the first time in their adult life. When asked about learning to swim as an adult, many may joke about fitting into a swimsuit, or express concern over their hairstyle, among other reasons. Understandable.

Some of the adults claiming to not know how to swim may really be expressing a fear of the water, and would hopefully not find themselves in real danger should they have to swim for their lives, but many non-swimming adults may be in real trouble without a life vest.


What most concerns me is three things.

1. They pass on their fears and lack of swimming skill to their kids.

Non-swimming adults may avoid water activities, at the detriment to their children. Not always though, some recognize the situation and actively avoid passing along water avoidance by getting their kids into swim lessons or signing them up for a local swim team at an early age. According to a 2009 Red Cross survey, Among those who learned to swim at age 4 or earlier , 43% have excellent skills, compared to 17% who learned between the ages of 5 and 10. The earlier they begin to learn, the better swimmers children become.

2. They miss out on the best form of fitness there is.

Swimming has been proven to be great exercise, better than most other types. Burns calories, tones muscles, improves endurance and increases muscle tone with a bouyant, low impact workout. Aerobic activity in the water strengthens the heart and can raise HDL levels, the good cholesterol. Swimming laps also has a calming, meditative effect, that can reduce stress levels.

3. They could drown, or be unable to assist in a water emergency

In the event of an emergency, would they, could they - help a person in trouble? In the same survey quoted above, it was found that:

  • 1 in 2 persons surveyed (50%!) have had a near drowning experience.
  • 50% of those who had a near drowning experience were over the age of 10.
  • Half of those were helped by family or friends. 1/3 reached safety themselves.
  • 1 in 3 persons surveyed have helped someone in danger of drowning
  • 1 in 4 persons surveyed knows someone who drowned.

If you are a non-swimming adult, I want you to seek help for your condition! Find a comfortable swim suit, swim goggles and a swim cap if you're concerned about your hair. Make your way to a local swimming pool (one with a lifeguard) and start slowly:

Day 1: Acclimation to the water. Standing in chest high water, bobbing. Stay in your comfort zone.

Day 2: Kicking laps with a kickboard or pool noodle. Watch the other swimmers strokes.

Day 3: Holding onto the pool edge, face in the water, practice kicking and turning your head sideways to breathe.

Day 4: Swim short distances in the shallow end. Push your comfort zone just a little.

There are lots of resources online for teaching yourself to swim, or of you prefer an instructor, you'll find them cheaper than you might think. If you're not the only non-swimmer in the house, buddy-up and make it a family affair. No time is better than mid-summer to learn how to swim. It's never too late!