There’s a common misconception that learning how to swim is something only kids do. But in reality, there are a lot of adults who haven’t yet learned to swim, for a variety of reasons. Some didn’t have access to a pool or lessons when they were younger; some have a long-standing fear of the water; some just never got around to it. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, around 37% of U.S. adults can’t swim 24 yards, the length of a typical recreational pool.

So if you’re in that number, you’re not alone, and it’s never too late to learn! Here are a few tips to help you discover a love of swimming as an adult.

Decide to do it.

This is the hardest part. For a lot of people, there’s a lot of stress wrapped up in learning how to swim as an adult. You might feel embarrassed or nervous or freaked out when you think about getting in the water. But know that you can do this, and take the first step by signing up for swimming lessons. From there, it will get so much easier and more fun! Your instructor will help you start from the beginning, and he or she will support you as you learn at your own pace. And if you’re taking a class with other students, you can feel less self-conscious knowing you’re all learning together.

Get some good gear.

You don’t have to spend a fortune on equipment when you’re getting started, but a few high-quality pieces of gear can make a big difference. Buy a good pair of goggles that fit your head well and won’t fog up in the water. Find a swimsuit that you feel comfortable in and stays in place when you move around. And if your hair has a tendency to get in your face, throw in a simple swim cap as well.

Start small.

Be patient with yourself as you learn. In your lessons, you’ll start with water comfort – from getting used to putting your face in the water to learning how to move your body. Bit by bit, you’ll keep building on the basic skills, and you’ll be amazed at how much you can do over time.

Keep it up.

Learning how to swim, no matter how old you are, takes time. It can be more challenging for adults because, let’s be honest, we can be much harder on ourselves than kids are. Take a cue from the way kids learn, and try to relax and have fun with it. Remember why you want to learn – so you can take your family on a beach vacation, or you can sign up for that Iron Man you’ve always dreamed of.

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