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Category: X On And In The Water

If you will realize that your body is buoyant, not a dead weight in the
water, and that swimming should come as naturally to you as to the wild
creatures, it may help you to gain the confidence so essential in
learning to swim. If you are not afraid of the water you will not
struggle while in it, and the air in your lungs will keep you afloat
while you learn to make the movements that will carry you along. You
will not sink if you are quite calm and move only your hands _under_
water with a slight paddling movement. Keep in mind that every inch
above water but adds so much to the weight to sink you lower. To throw
up your arms is the surest way of going straight to the bottom. Do not
be afraid to allow the water to come up and partially cover your chin.

All sorts of contrivances have been invented to keep a person afloat
while learning to swim, but they all tend to take from, rather than to
give confidence, for it is natural to depend entirely upon them and to
feel helpless when they are taken away. According to my own experience
the best method is to have a friend place a hand under your chin while
her feet are touching bottom and to walk with you while you learn to
make the swimming movements. This will keep your head above water and
give you a sense of security, and you will then strike out confidently.
The support rendered is so slight you learn to manage your own weight in
the water almost immediately, while you have the feeling that some one
upholds you, and the friendly hand may be withdrawn at intervals to
allow you to try entirely alone.

You see that after all it is the _feeling_ of being supported more than
the actual support that counts, and if you can convince yourself that
you need no support you won't need it. It is best to start by swimming
_toward_ land instead of away from it. To know that you are not going
beyond your depth but are gaining the shore is a great help in
conquering fear.

Next: Movements in Swimming

Previous: Poling

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