I have taught many people to swim, of all different shapes, sizes backgrounds and experiences. It is endlessly fascinating because although what I am teaching is always the same, every person I teach is different. Each person approaches the water, and the learning process in a different way. Some are very frightened, especially if they have had a bad experience that has put them off being in the water, some are impatient not understanding that to learn to swim, to really learn, can take years. Many adults are embarrassed that they can’t swim, or embarrassed about their bodies in some way. I am so focused on the teaching that I don’t quite see the body as such, just a way of being in the water, that is often reflected in the way someone holds themselves on land.
I have no proof but I do believe that learning to swim , or improving your relationship with water, impacts on the rest of your life. I try to teach people to listen to and to feel the water. One of my pupils said to me the other day ‘when I swim like that the water feels much softer‘. That is exactly what I am aiming for, and my idealistic self believes that learning to experience the softness of the water will help you to live a more contented, connected sort of life.
When I teach the children to swim I get them to listen to the water. After they have jumped in I get them to be very quiet and put their ears down to the water, to listen to the tiny bubbles fizzing.