It’s wonderful to know how to swim and everyone should be able to learn. But not everyone gets the chance when they are of the “expected age” to learn swimming. Whether it be lack of opportunities or perhaps a bad experience in water.
Then when the chance passes, or you grow out of the “expected age” it gets harder and harder to get into swimming or learning a new skill in general. Learning any skill later in life can be tricky, people have more responsibilities and less time to themselves. It can be a daunting task, choosing to start a new skill. How do you start? Where do you start? When do you get the time? Tend to be loud questions that bounce around in one’s head.
But that doesn’t mean that it’s a hopeless endeavor.
Everyone knows the saying, “you can’t teach an old dog new tricks.” Which may be true, and many use it as justification for stagnation. Only the saying is about dogs not humans, humans, people are in a constant state of change. That’s what makes us so unique ; apart from the opposable thumbs. The problem isn’t a person’s capacity for learning, it’s their willingness to learn and therefore change.
Of course there is stigma around learning later in life and not just in swimming but most education. ‘You should’ve done this sooner’ can ring in your ear like the loudest relative you remember from childhood. Which can make taking that first step so much harder and that is why it is so important that you take that first step. Because it does not matter if you did not do it then, it matters that you are willing to try now.
Yes, learning something new can be hard and it can be scary, but it was always scary. We forgot as we grew up, just how scary it was when we first started school. In my experience as a swim instructor it is never about the level of natural skill a person possesses. It is about their willingness to try, even when it is hard.
To anyone, not just wanting to learn how to swim but trying to learn anything later in life. Remember this above all else, be kind to yourself. You are doing this for you, whether that be the 6 year old who was scared of the water, the 17 year old who wanted to go surfing with friends or the 32 year old who wants to go swimming with their kids.