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Understanding Aquatic Fears

Written By: Ashley Graves


All independent movements in water can provoke fear. It's important to understand that children react differently to certain aquatic skills, especially when beginning to learn to swim.


What is fearful for one child is not always the same skill that another child fears. Tears are common with children when they are learning to face and work through their fears in aquatic spaces. What's most important is to take the time to work through those fears by leaning on your instructors' & coaches' expert guidance.


Swimming is often the first fear that children have to face on a regular basis until they conquer it.


Common Fears:

  • Going Underwater

  • Jumping Into Water

  • Floating & Water Buoyancy

  • Blowing Nose Bubbles

  • Depth Perception & Refraction

  • Skill Combinations

A coach or instructor should understand how hard it is for parents to watch their child struggle though fears and embrace new skills. It's completely normal for parents to have those feelings.


When the going gets tough, don't give up. Swimming is a lifelong life saving skill and is absolutely worth the struggle. The self-confidence and achievement athletes will feel when graduating swim lessons or to the next swim level is worth every moment on the hard days! This is a marathon not a sprint and there are often fears to overcome.


Here, coaches should equip swim parents with tips & tricks to help navigate those harder days:


Tips To Help With Fears:

  • Watch classes from a respectful distance to reinforce skills & phrases in other aquatic spaces.

  • Remind athletes of where they started and all the progress they have made.

  • Encourage productive talk with coaches outside of sessions about ways to help with skill development at home.

  • Stay positive. Even on their bad days athletes need support and motivation.

  • Never give up! This is a lifesaving skill that equips children for the rest of their lives.

  • Practice patience and remember that all children learn at different paces.


Ashley began her coaching journey at the age of nineteen years old. She became the youngest female head coach in the country of a club team and combined high school program in 2014. Ashley has continued to work in the swim community in a variety of roles but is most well known for her work at Streamline Teams where she is the Founder & CEO. In her community she runs a summer swim lesson school serving both local and military families.

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