Help me teach my husband how to swim!

My husband, who is 27, can’t swim. As far as I know, he’s never had a close-drowning incident or something similar.

Next month, we will be staying at a house with a pool, so I hope to get him at least dog paddling. We took a river float trip a year ago, and we got him somewhat comfortable with floating on his back.

So how should I go about this?

If he’s serious about learning then start with a couple of minutes of immersion where he dunks his head going back. The object is to get him accustom to holding his breath while water goes over his face. I would then teach him to swim on his back by holding him up from behind/underneath and moving backwards with him. If a person learns to swim on their back they can stay afloat for hours with less effort than walking. I also think it’s the easiest strokes to learn.

I would add that I am not comfortable with a non-swimmer around water. I was in a canoe with 3 people on a very shallow river and managed to turn it over in the only spot that was 10 ft deep. The unsinkable rental canoe went down like the Titanic. Fortunately we could all swim.

Can he float? I ask this because I see this as a major hindrance to my learning to swim when I was a kid; there was always an emphasis on the stroke, and the necessity of kicking your legs…on the actual swimming technique. Which you’re trying to learn (or I was as a nervous child) while being convinced if you stopped struggling against it, you’d sink to the bottom and die.

Took me a long time to realize…people float. With only minimal effort…or none at all if you’re in the right position, like on your back…people float. Therefore there is no reason to panic about drowning. That makes it a lot easier to consentrate on the technique of swimming, which is more about propelling yourself foward than just staying above water. I wasted a lot of time not enjoying swimming because of the dubious techniques of camp conselors. Not that I’m bitter. Much.

Don’t hold him up. Get to the point where he realizes the water really will support him. The rest is easy.

Personally, I vote for getting a kickboard or a “noodle” or something else that floats that he can hang on to and mostly keep his head out of water and concentrate on kicking.

If you really want to, you can have him wear a life jacket or personal floatation device and water wings- but I doubt they’d be as cute on him as they are on my niece. (Niece is two. Her parents have a swimming pool. If niece goes into the pool past the second or third step, the water is deeper than her head. Therefore she is made to be practically unsinkable, required to have a parent present, and allowed to go wherever she wants in the pool. She doesn’t/can’t move her arms a whole lot, but can kick herself to wherever she wants to go.)

As a person who took swimming lessons in my youth, but who hasn’t been in the water much more than an average of once a year, I find swimming laps unappealling. But clinging to a noodle or two to help keep my face up is kind of fun.

:smack: Missed the whole part where you said he could float on his back. Well…ok, then good start. Just needs to be comfortable with it.

See…that’s where I’d disagree. Like I said you don’t need any help floating. You don’t need to kick to stay afloat. The kicking and such is for propulsion…better to disengage that from the idea of drowning (I mean the general nervousness of a beginning swimmer.) Well, that’s MHO.

Related thread.
Summary of MHO:

I’d suggest building up the ol’ confidence by first teaching him to float on his back. It wasn’t easy for me, but I can get it to work by completely filling my lungs - anything less and I don’t float so good. Got to keep those lungs filled, kick a little to keep the legs up, and maybe keep the head back to keep the nose and mouth just that much further out of the water.

If he learns that he at least has a standby to keep from immediate drowning - and after many years of not swimming, even a little confidence could be a great comfort - he might then be willing to try a dog paddle, or some such.

On review, I apparently didn’t read the OP very closely. Sorry for any irrelevancies in my latest.

Since he’s comfy with floating, show him how to tread water. Big confidence builder, water-treading. It’s nice to know you won’t necessarily drown if the waves are too much for floating to be a good option.

Once he’s happy with that, put him in a pool up to about his upper chest level (ie, shallow enough that he can easily stand up at any point and have his head totally out of the water). That’ll help him stay cool about the whole thing. Going from floating on your back to facing the water is a big mental step - you’re actively putting your face right down next to the water …and probably swallowing it, if you’re me. (I swear I always swallow half the pool. Ick.)

I seem to recall that I learned to swim by my mother having her hands underneath my torso to support me as I lay in the water, while I got the hang of the dog-paddle motions (the hands and the kicking). She’d move me along in the water so I got the ‘feel’ for it. Every now and again she’d take her hands away and I’d sink like a stone, but eventually it clicked. :smiley:

I was too young for her to feasibly do this in water that *I * could have stood up in, as I would have been all of 4’ tall… so he’s got an advantage right there. Less stress, knowing if it all goes bad you can stand up and be hunky-dory.

Obviously he’ll weigh more than a 5-year old, but the water buoyancy should hopefully offset a large chunk of that.

On consideration, if you do take my suggestion and teach him by supporting his torso, it’s probably better that *you * choose the water depth - it’d be better for you if you support him at a depth that makes your arms comfortable.

Sure, you won’t be taking *all * his weight, but I bet if you’re holding your arms too high or low for any length of time you’ll start to feel it pretty fast. :smiley:


I think a lot depends on what the real goal is. Is the goal to have someone who really knows how to swim and can swim distances in perfect stroke formation? I vote get lessons from a professional swim instructor. Is the goal to get enough comfort in the water to not panic if the water goes over the head briefly? Something floating to hang on to in the water may not hurt.

Of course, a lot may depend on the size and shape of the pool as well. My brother’s pool has a very limited shallow area- which is not very shallow, and a steep slippery slope to a somewhat larger deep end. (We think the former owners wanted a pool they could dive in. The present owners do not- but the price of resculpting the pool to a more desirable configuration exceeded their budget.) Since the point of our spending time in the pool was to interact with each other (and cool off), and since most of the pool is way too deep for us to stand on the bottom, most of us enjoyed playing with the noodles and other floating toys. In a more shallow pool(I’ve been in an above ground pool where the whole thing was about three feet deep), or if other people wanted to swim laps, learning to swim without something to help float may be more desirable.

In that case, I have no suggestions. But mostly, I thought the OP should know that the options available to her include flotation devices - and not just for small children, swimming by kicking effectively may be more fun/easier than swimming by moving the arms effectively.

It is not clear to me whether the goal of the OP is to have a husband who is secure in not drowning, or a husband who is confident in his ability to propel himself through water.

My suggestion would be to have him hold on the side of the pool, put his face in the water and kick. This way he’s not going anywhere, he’s still in shallow water, and he can get used to floating by using his arms as well. You could also help support him. I would also say that if he can do this, to breath to turn both his head and his body. If he learns to lift his head to breath that will cause his body to drop and make it harder to swim.

Don’t do like my Dad did to my Mom on their honeymoon, which is to push her into the deep end and “let nature take its course.” :rolleyes:

My Mom tells this story, and of course I say “Mom, I don’t think he was trying to teach you to swim…”