How quickly can you learn to swim?


Swimming is an essential life skill that many of us feel is important to learn at some point. Whether you are teaching your child or looking to learn later in life, learning to swim is a valuable experience and will help you improve your fitness and wellbeing, develop life skills and have fun.

Although the outcomes are the same for adults and children, the learning process may look quite different. In fact, learning to swim will look different for each individual, depending on a number of factors. Below, we will look at the different factors affecting adults and children learning to swim, and discuss what might extend the learning process or shorten it.


Adults learning to swim

Adults learning to swim often ask how long the process is likely to take. Unfortunately, it simply depends on a number of factors – there is no hard and fast answer.

The first of these is age. The natural fitness and learning abilities of a younger adult may make the learning process go quicker – although this is a generalisation. Possibly a more effective indicator is physical fitness. Adults that are already fit and have a high level of muscle tone may adapt to swimming much more quickly than a less fit adult.

Another key factor is any fears an adult may harbour about water. Many adults who have been unable to swim for most of their adult life will have some fear of the water, due to it being an unknown environment that would pose a significant challenge. This is totally normal and can be overcome. However, the degree of fear each adult has will contribute to the amount of time it takes to become comfortable in the water, and then learn to swim.

One advantage adult learners have over children is that they have an entire lifetime of experiences and skills to help them navigate the learning process. Adults can apply past experiences such as other sports, riding a bike, or driving a car to expedite the learning process.


Children learning to swim

Children learning to swim will encounter some of the same factors as adults. For example, age will play a factor for children too. The younger a child begins to become comfortable in the water and learn swimming skills, the quicker they will become competent swimmers. Children are most effective learners when they are young, as their brains are specifically wired for picking up new skills.

Fear will play a role for children too. Older children being taught to swim often have a high degree of fear of the water, due to it being built up over their childhood. Contrastingly, younger children are usually much more carefree.

The best indicator of the speed at which children learn to swim is the consistency of their lessons / time in the water. So, the most effective thing parents can do is to ensure children are in swimming lessons on a regular basis – weekly is often best.

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