scared of swimming

Scared of the Water? No More…

Welcome back gang! I’ve got some motivation coming your way today, particularly if you are one of my readers who are particularly scared of the water.

Scared of the Water? No more…

Today I wanted to talk a bit about one of my favorite books as a teen and about a particular chapter in that novel. The main character, James, has just been recruited to join a top secret British spy academy that they call “CHERUB”. The children that join “CHERUB” become secret agents and travel the world taking down bad guys and stuff. Sounds like every kid’s dream, right?

by Robert Muchamore

The conditions for such an amazing lifestyle however are as follows:

  • James must become fit enough to run 30 kilometers
  • Students must learn two languages and study over 5 hours a day
  • James must learn to swim

The first two he isn’t even the slightest bit intimidated by. But the last one presents a rather significant challenge… As he is very scared of the water.

The instructors take him to the pool and they attempt to get him oriented within the pool. Here is a short excerpt from the novel so you can read about the kinds of thoughts and concerns James has:

Excerpt from The Recruit by Robert Muchamore:

James walked along the twenty-five metre pool, nervously reading the depth markings. The deep end levelled off at three and a half metres.

‘Stand with your toes curled over the edge,’ Amy said.

James shuffled up to the edge. The bottom looked a long way off and the chlorine smelled like the time he nearly drowned.

‘Take a deep breath. Jump in and hold the air until you come back up to the surface.’

‘Won’t I sink?’ James asked.

‘People float in water, James. Especially if their lungs are full of air.’

James crouched down to jump. He could almost feel the water blocking his mouth.

‘I can’t,’ James said.

‘I’m right here to catch you. Don’t be scared.’

James didn’t want to look soft in front of a girl. He raised his courage and leapt in. The quiet when his head went under was eerie. James’ feet touched the bottom of the pool and he pushed himself upwards. As his face broke the surface he let out a gasp and thrashed his arms. He couldn’t see Amy. He felt the same terror as when his classmates had nearly drowned him.

Amy grabbed James and with a few powerful kicks she pushed him to the edge of the pool. James clambered out and doubled over, coughing.

(Next Page)

‘Well done, James. You’ve learned the most important lesson: you float back to the surface when you jump in the water.’

‘You said you’d catch me,’ James said.

He tried to sound angry, but he let out a big sob in the middle of the sentence.

‘Why are you upset? You did really well.’

‘I’m never gonna learn to swim,’ James said. ‘I know it’s stupid, but I’m scared of water. My nine-year-old sister can swim, but I’m too scared.’

‘Calm down, James. It’s my fault. I wouldn’t have asked you to do that if I’d known you were so frightened.’

Amy took James back to the shallow end. They sat with their feet dangling in the water while Amy tried to calm James down.

‘You must think I’m a wimp,’ James said.

‘Everyone is scared of something,’ Amy said. ‘I’ve taught loads of kids to swim. You may take longer to learn than someone more confident, but we’ll get through it.’

‘I should have stayed where I was,’ James said. ‘I’m not good enough for a place like this.’

Citation: “Page 28-29, CHERUB: The Recruit, by Robert Muchamore”

Now, this excerpt is very, very interesting to me. Because in my experience, adults have these same kinds of thoughts and difficulties when they learn to swim after years of anxiety around the water. I want to offer you some of my thoughts regarding the statements James makes about himself.


“I’m scared of the water”

James is truly convinced that he is completely scared of the water. And he may be. But ultimately, when people want to solve a particular issue, they need to accept the situation as it is and then get motivated to take action. It’s a two step process. Realize that X thing is difficult for you and accept that it is OK to feel scared or intimidated by it. But do not become paralyzed to inaction.

Something radical that I want you to consider is this: if something terrifies you, you are just the kind of person who persists through it any way. You understand that pushing through your fears builds confidence, builds self-esteem. And since you are just the kind of person who loves to complete a challenge, you actually ENJOY trying things that scare you.

“I’m not good enough.”

Whether or not you actually have the ability to do something is irrelevant in 99% of all cases when you are learning a new skill. The missing piece for everybody when learning to do something new isn’t the lack of ability in fitness, technique, or raw skill. It is the lack of belief in the self. What is truly holding them back, is the conviction that you are not good enough. Unable to accomplish X thing.


“You must think I’m a wimp”

This is a big one!

I deal with adults all of the time that feel some sort of shame towards their anxiety or fear around the water. They are not valuable as a human being, simply because they are very scared of the water.

People always seem to think that they are the center of the universe and that EVERYBODY is always judging them.

Reality is, people are so concerned with themselves, they don’t even have time to worry about your shit.

Know that. Embody that belief. Embarrassment needs to be the least of your worries when learning to swim.


“I can’t”

Again, we see that James has become utterly convinced that he is unable to learn how to swim. He has no faith that he will be able to float and he “knows” that he is just going to sink when he jumps into the water.

James isn’t even aware about the kind of self-imposed limits he’s introduced to the situation.

He doesn’t even realize yet that this could be the very thing holding him back. His own language and self-fulfilling prophecies. If you are always constantly telling yourself that you are useless at X thing, then why would you even bother?


The alternative…

Consciously choose your language, beliefs and actions to best suit your needs!

It’s your life, and your goals.

So, it would therefore behoove you to choose beliefs that aid you and allow you to tackle your personal challenges with energy and enthusiasm.

Avoiding the phrases “I can’t”, “I won’t”, and “I don’t know how…” will empower you to follow through with things even though you find them tough and challenging.

Taking action every day to try and accomplish your goals are going to ensure that you achieve them.

Grasp these three fundamentals. Use them. Embody them. I assure you, you will cure being scared of the water in no time.

  1. Beliefs
  2. Language
  3. Take Action

Have an amazing week badasses!

Tired of being unable to swim, check out our article on how you can learn to swim in five easy steps…

How to Swim in Five Easy Steps

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