How to Learn to Swim as an Adult

Swimming provides both youth and adults with a means for physical activity and recreation throughout life. According to a study presented at the Athens Pre-Olympic Congress in 2004, when an adult doesn't learn to swim at an early age, he often develops a fear of swimming that can make learning to swim later in life a challenge. If you want to learn to swim as an adult, you need to acknowledge the psychological barriers as well as the physical barriers. Consider private or group adult swim lessons, or enlist a trusted family member or friend to accompany you in the water.

Developing Comfort in the Water

Step 1

Get in the pool. Walk around in chest-deep water, learning how it feels to move through the water and maintain your balance.

Step 2

Submerge your face and your entire body. Hold onto the side of the pool or your friend and start humming, blowing through your nose. Place your nose under water while humming, blowing bubbles at the surface. Then do the same thing while placing your whole face under water.

Step 3

Hold onto the side of the pool, take a breath and hold it, then submerge your entire body under water. Immediately bob back to the surface. Repeat 10 times, quickly.

Floating and Kicking

Step 1

Practice floating on your stomach by holding onto the side of the pool. Ask your friend support your hips as you lift your legs up from the bottom of the pool, extending them behind you. In this position, practice placing your face in the water.

Step 2

Add a kicking motion. Place the noodle under your hips to help support you if you feel uncomfortable.

Step 3

Hug a kickboard to your chest, then ask your friend to support your shoulders as you lean backward and pick your feet up off the ground to learn the back float.

Step 4

Relax your neck and look toward the ceiling, arching your lower back slightly. Bend your knees slightly. When you begin to feel comfortable, have your friend let go of your shoulders. With practice, try the skill without the kickboard.

Step 5

Hold the kickboard against your chest or in front of your body as you practice floating and kicking through the water. Try to submerge your face in the water and blow bubbles. Turn your head to the side to breath.

Arm Strokes

Step 1

Hold onto the edge of the pool and begin kicking your legs behind you.

Step 2

Let go of the wall with one arm and reach down through the water with your arm, drawing a big circle up and out of the water. After a full rotation, repeat with your other arm, continuing the forward crawl stroke.

Step 3

Practice the forward crawl stroke while holding a kickboard in front of your body, propelling yourself through the water.

Step 4

Combine the entire stroke without assistance. Kicking your legs and stroking with your arms, submerge your face and begin swimming.

Things You'll Need

  • Water noodle

  • Kickboard


Split up your practices into short, 30 minute segments. Progress slowly, allowing yourself to master one skill before moving on to the next.


Bodies of water always pose risks. Never swim alone.

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