April 3, 2018 – Miracle Swimming for Adults (MSA) celebrates its 35th anniversary May 1by launching a massive project, Miracle Swimming Sarasota: Teach All Adult Non-swimmers Countywide to Swim. If the cure for cancer were known and not publicized it would be a public wrong. Because MSA’s system works virtually 100% of the time, it has a responsibility that comes with its power: to make classes fun and available to all who can benefit.
A good half of the adult population in the United States is afraid in water over their heads in pools, according to a national Gallup Poll. Two-thirds are afraid in deep, open water.
What makes people afraid? Is it silly? What does it take to overcome it?
A story of how someone became afraid in water is not silly to most people. Most often, a child becomes afraid in water because his/her mother or father is afraid. The parent passes on the fear to the child, often unintentionally but sometimes—in order to “protect” the child—intentionally. A parent can’t be blamed for this if she doesn’t understand the water.
On the other hand, many parents who are afraid in water make sure their kids learn to swim early, while the parents hide their own fear so as not to influence kids’ budding confidence.
A child who believes his mother and heeds her warnings is not silly: it’s normal. A child’s beliefs are heavily influenced by messages from parents. Commonly, kids believe and do what their parents believe and do.
Besides learning fear from a parent, people become afraid from experiences where they lost control in water and couldn’t recover it. One example is being thrown in by a well-intentioned uncle who says, “Sink or swim!” He learned that way, but the child he threw in is traumatized for life and may never recover. Teens and adults become afraid other ways.
There’s widespread shame about not being able to swim. However, there need be no shame: it is not the non-swimmers’ fault.
Stroke mechanics (freestyle, breaststroke, etc.) have nothing to do with overcoming fear; to overcome fear, one must restore a broken trust in oneself. A non-swimmer of any age must learn how the water works. If you cannot swim, you haven’t felt how the water works. MSA invites non-swimmers to let yourselves— and tell your friend to let him/herself— off the hook. It is not your fault. Panic is not part of learning to swim.
The project for approximately 125,000 adults in Sarasota County is expected to take 40-50 years. MSA’s system is that each adult becomes safe and confident in water over his/her head by having fun. Afternoon, weekend, and evening classes start April 7, 2018 for residents. Visitors to Sarasota learn in back-to-back 5-day classes separated by a weekend.