hen it comes to learning something new, naturally there’s some anxiety correlated with it -- and learning how to swim as an adult is no different. To ease your nerves, please know that you are not alone. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that more than a third of adults in the United States can’t swim the length of a pool.

Despite natural intimidation in learning how to swim as an adult, there is also room for there to be some physical challenge. We got you covered from what the basic techniques are, and how to get started.

So, if you find yourself in this third of adults and are looking to feel more confident in the water, and ultimately safer, keep reading!
Continue reading this article to learn:

  • How to get started
  • Techniques and quick tips for beginners
  • What equipment you need

Swimming without sweating, it’s all about staying confident

Get comfortable in learning something new, and let those back strokes flow and guide you through the water.

Someone arm stroking through water
Clearing your head free of fears and anxiety of drowning or social stigma around learning how to swim at an adult age will quicken and ease your learning process.

First things first, you need to get out of your head. No one cares -- or should care.  Your safety is the number one priority, and take ownership of learning how to do this to ensure a safe round trip to Cabo.

Once you are feeling fired up and imagining yourself doing cannonballs into the pool -- you’re ready to embark on this journey. In fact, many non-swimmers agree that fear and anxiety about drowning are the main barriers keeping them from getting in the pool.

This is not all to say that water can’t be dangerous. Instead, by accepting the danger and being okay with not being able to stay afloat situationally, you’re not doing yourself any favors.  By spending time thinking about drowning, you won’t be able to focus on actually learning the different techniques.

For example, if you’re thinking about drowning or how hard the whole process is while earning and your backstroke -- you’re uncomfortable and tense in the water, thus resulting in more energy being used. Ultimately making the process physically and mentally exhausting.

Like anything else with a bit of patience and over the course of some time, you’ll get more comfortable in the pool and shake fears of blacking out, sinking, or drowning. Start by telling yourself that you can -- and that it won’t be easy or quick in the first go.

Visualize the experience, and build your technique

To ensure a successful training journey from start to finish, a clear mind is important.

Someone in diving position in the water
Learning what learning style is best for you is beneficial when learning how to swim as an adult as you can most commonly be self or professionally taught.

Getting in the right mindset will cultivate your learning process further. The next step -- finding the right physical routine for you. You have freedom of choice when it comes to learning to swim as an adult. Specifically, you could teach yourself via YouTube, or different how-to blogs. Or you could go the professional route and attend regular lessons with a certified instructor.

When deciding what learning strategy is best for you think about what it is you want. To be able to float and stroke at a basic level, and learn at your own peace, self-teaching may be for you. If you are looking to fulfill a long-lost dream of being an efficient swimmer, with straight and elongated strokes, consider regular lessons.

Below are a few options and quick links for you to consider when narrowing down your decision:

Once you decide on what process is best for you -- now let’s talk how long this is going to take. Learning something new in your adult life needs to be planned out to match competing priorities. When it comes to how long it takes to learn the basics of swimming, that really depends on you.

Some folks feel comfortable, and wrap up the process after a few months. While others spend more time on the basics before they are ready to even think about stroke mechanics. The bottom line is to overcome the anxiety and follow a plan so you can be proud of what you’ve accomplished ASAP!

Understanding the water: What you need

To stay on your “A” game in the water you need to practice and put together the perfect starter kit.

A woman with a swim can and goggle resting both hands on a pool deck
No new sport is learned without having all the necessary gear -- and swimming is no different.

The hard part is done -- you’ve cleared your head and made a training plan that works with your personal needs and time commitments. Now comes fun -- packing for the pool. Learning how to swim as an adult doesn’t call for flip flops and a beach towel. Instead, look to these few items we’ve put together to make sure you are feeling fully supported throughout training:


If you’re taking the dive into learning to swim, you might as well dress the part. Just because you may feel like it's amateur hour, doesn’t mean you need to look like it too. By browsing brands like Speedo and TYR -- you’ll be looking like a pro in no time.

Swim goggles

Goggles are a must-have. When it comes to beginners swimming we’ve already talked about dealing with your emotions to achieve mental clarity -- so now it’s time to make sure you have a clear underwater view. Splurging once on reliable brands like -- Sweedish Goggles or Speedo Vanquisher 2.0 -- will ensure no breaks or leaks in the long run. If you’re looking a expanside life of fast purchases check out Amazon.


Another beginner must-have as this is your lifeline to staying balanced and streamlined. Many pools have foam-like material kickboards all over locker rooms and pools decks, but it wouldn’t hurt to pick up one of your own to stay consistent and clean as you learn and practice new techniques. Size and material are what you should be paying attention to here -- checkout a full listing at Walmart.

Chlorine removing toiletries

You’ve read it once, and you’ll read it again -- an absolute must-have! Though a subjective reasoning for having it, products like chlorine-shampoo will make your time learning how to swim more enjoyable. This is a hobby -- unless you’re looking to go pro -- and it should stay that way. To prevent your hair from smelling like chlorine all day after a morning lesson, try out brands like UltraSwim and Paul Mitchell Shampoo Three to prevent brittle, dired pout, and damaged hair in the long-run.

But don’t just take our word for it when it comes to chlorine shampoo:

“I LOVE this product! ... This year I decided to give UltraSwim a go. The shampoo & conditioner was delivered today and we used it right away. I had doubts but as soon as we rinsed the conditioner out of her hair it was so soft and when we dried her hair it was easy to comb through and it smelled good. Public pool hair be gone!!! I've tried other more expensive brands and they don't work like UltraSwim. ...” -Amazon Review

Putting it all together in the water

Learning the basics and getting your gear together is essentially all you need

Still picture of pool water
Once you understand the water and develop a self-sufficient pace, you’ll be swimming laps in no time.

No one is swimming all the time unless they're a professional swimmer -- but not pursuing the sport professionally is not a just excuse to abandon learning it all together. On the basis of the common association with swimming is that it’s fun and refreshing. So don’t let age or fear let you pass by from feeling the ease a pool has to offer.  

Again, if you let this fear linger beyond your current age, you are letting swimming govern your life choices without reaping its benefits. For example, some say they avoid vacationing near water or beaches because it makes them that uncomfortable. Though a natural reaction, it’s in your control to change.

Taking the dive to learn how to swim is hard -- and putting that together with your breathing technique, and kicks makes it even more challenging. Start by finding what works for you and free yourself of social pressure. If you go the licensed professional route -- you’ll have the benefit of leaning on the support of both an instructor and a small class of adults all in the same boat as you.

Regardless of your goals -- either simply staying afloat or doing laps for amazing exercise --- once you ace the mind game, the mechanics and basics of swimming as an adult will soon become organic to you.

Mar 10, 2021