If you’re afraid of drowning, the idea of getting into the water and learning to swim can be overwhelming. With the right training and practice, however, you can become a strong swimmer and overcome your fears. As a general precaution, don’t try to learn to swim on your own. Always have somebody with you, even if you are practicing in a seemingly safe pool.
Find a teacher who understands your fear. A good swimming coach should know not only the technical aspects of swimming, but also how to deal with students who are uncomfortable in the water. Before your first lesson, talk with your instructor, and make it clear how fast or slow you want to go. If you want to spend a few lessons getting used to the water, instead of focusing on swimming lessons from the start, explain that, too.
Choose a shallow pool. If you’re afraid of drowning, it will help to know that you’re able to touch the bottom of the pool if you get too scared or uncomfortable. At the beginning of the learning process, stay close to the border or the stairs, so you have something on which to hold.
Take small steps to get used to the water. Don’t try to force the learning process. Before you learn to swim, become comfortable holding your head underwater, learn to float and practice breathing. Use a small floating board if you need to, so you have something on which to hold.
Work on loosening your body. According to Aquatic Therapy/Specialized Swim Instruction's Enjoythewater.com website, people who are afraid of swimming often tense muscles, hold their breath and refuse to put their head under the water. They also tend to hold their body and limbs in awkward positions that make swimming and staying afloat very difficult.