#23 Fran “I can’t breathe!” (62 years young)/
Fran e-mailed me saying that she is from the east coast, moved out here when she was 30 and took a few swim lessons at that time. She has never really been comfortable in the water, but can put her face in as long as her eyes are closed. “Can’t or don’t know how to do the breathing at all.”
I hear that all the time. I just had a conversation with a stranger in line at the post office yesterday (clearly this is what I’m supposed to be doing). She saw my wet hair, then started talking about swimming and her fear of putting her face in the water because she thought she would choke and die. Yikes. I told her to relax. To breathe.
I asked her, “If you ran around the block right now, would you hold your breath?”
“No, I’d pass out!”
“Well, don’t you think the same is true for swimming? You have to breathe.”
“I’ve never thought about it that way. I just always assumed I was supposed to hold my breath. Is it really that easy?”
Yes, it is! If you have this same way of thinking, please try to breathe. I promise it can be as simple as that. Try it. Or call me and I’ll help you.
Anyway, Fran just retired from teaching public high school (amen!). She has a lot more free time on her hands and thought this was the perfect time to conquer the water! I couldn’t agree more. She came into the lesson pretty serious. She was definitely there to accomplish something and looked determined to do so. She has a lot of ear issues and did not want to deal with water in her ears, so she came prepared with a swim cap. Ear and nose problems are a really common issue for individuals of all ages. Many people have a phobia of getting water in them, so they avoid it. But, your body is designed to handle that. The water comes out when you take your head out of the water. Is it uncomfortable? Possibly, if you’re not used to it. Is it life-threatening? No. Like anything, you just have to practice and get used to it. Check out Fran getting out of her head and really enjoying the water:
She did so well, but Fran would really over-think it at times. That’s the good and bad part about working with adults- the constant need to get it right and self- criticism if we don’t. At one point, Fran became winded and got a bit dizzy. We took a break and I got her some water. This is where I needed to take a breath and be patient. I had one hour with Fran and I wanted to have a positive impact on her. I wanted her to walk away from the lesson feeling more comfortable in the water, not feeling like she was gonna pass out!
One of my clients just wrote a wonderful testimonial that read, “Kim has the right balance of being positive and patient while still managing to provide excellent swim instruction at the same time.” Patience. The story of my professional life. Patience. Deep breath, Kim. I needed to be aware of Fran’s limitations and put her health concerns before my pride. I reassessed her comfort level, slowed it down and worked on breathing while floating. Fran became an expert on both her front and her back!
Phew! We got back on track. At this point, I didn’t want Fran to over-exert herself, so I stuck my most favorite teaching aid ever on her- FINIS Fins! Of course, she absolutely loved them. When she put them on, they pulled her hips up, which helped get her body into the proper position, as she was otherwise a bit nervous and therefore stiff. She glided through the water, inhaling and exhaling. She even turned from front to back without worrying about (or freaking out about) her ears. Way to go, Fran! Happy retirement! Look at you…