Adults - overview
Our adult students tend to fall into three main categories - Beginners, Anxious Swimmers & Frustrated Freestylers. (If you think you don't match any of these descriptions, please get in touch to discuss your specific requirements).
Typically, if you've reached adulthood without learning to swim, you will have a pretty high level of anxiety about water. This is understandable - because if you can't swim water is genuinely dangerous to you. But fear also interferes with your ability to learn. It's the cause as well as the effect. Our goal is to break this vicious cycle - your confidence and ability will grow together, reinforcing each other. A key ingredient is to be in control of your own progress. Fear of losing control is a major element of fear of water - so any approach that takes away your control is (we believe) doomed to failure. Unfortunately this psychological aspect is missing from most swimming classes - so if you've tried to learn before without success, chances are the teacher focused on telling you what to do, rather than understanding how you feel.
A common subconscious assumption of adult non-swimmers is that if you could only learn how to swim, your fear would go away. The truth is more or less the opposite - once you face up to your fear (in small safe stages!) you will be able to start learning. If you're feeling terrified - or just very tense - you're not in a suitable state to learn anything. (Imagine having a driving lesson with a snake loose in the car - where would your attention be?)
So, our teaching process starts with helping you explore how your body interacts with water: Do you float or sink? What happens if you put your face in? What happens when you move your arms and legs? Only when you feel more relaxed and in control of your own body in the water do we progress to recognised strokes. This means that you really own the lessons you learn. It's a learning-oriented philosophy, rather than a teaching-oriented one. A teacher-oriented approach typically leads to comments like, "the teacher showed me what to do but for some reason I just couldn't do it. Obviously I'm not meant to swim"; a learning-oriented approach is more like, "I always assumed I would sink; but when the teacher asked us to let ourselves sink deliberately, I was amazed to find I didn't. So I must float after all!"
We see learning to swim in adulthood as a personal voyage into the unknown (with a guide). It's an adventure, but it's also pretty daunting. We respect the fact that you are choosing to step outside your comfort zone. We believe this requires one-to-one support, especially at first. As you progress, we may suggest you buddy up with another student for 2-to-1 tuition, but the choice is yours.
You can swim one or more widths, maybe even lengths. But you hate being out of your depth. You're never 100% confident you'll make it to the other side - so when you do swim it's rushed and awkward. The problem is you don't really feel in control when out of your depth. Your sense of security comes from being able to put your feet on the bottom. How do other people make it look so easy? What do they know that you don't?
We meet a lot of people like this. For most, it's pretty easy to make big improvements quite quickly. We need to get back to basics - help you rediscover how your body works with the water. This usually means slowing things right down; you can't feel what's going on if you're rushing to the other side. Do you think you'll sink like a rock if you slow down? Lots of people think so - but very few do. (And even sinkers can become good swimmers anyway). Is your breathing relaxed and regular, or tight and laboured? Tense breathing is one of the most common problems we encounter. You can work on this with simple breathing exercises - whereas swimming drills do not address the root cause.
Each student is unique in their abilities, and their worries, so - as with beginners - we think one-to-one is the best approach.
This is anyone who wants to swim front crawl properly! If you want to master the crawl once and for all, you're in good company - a lot of people like you come to us. Especially triathletes feeling let down by their swimming.
We run occasional weekendworkshops that can transform your stroke and how you think about it.
Alternatively there's the option of Private lessons
The Psychology of Swimming - Fear, Mental Baggage etc
This is one of the things that makes it so fascinating and rewarding to help adults learn.
Mention the psychology of swimming to most swimmers, teachers or coaches and they will assume you are talking about a "Winner mentality" or something along those lines. In other words they automatically think in terms of competitive swimming.
But that's not what we mean at all. We are interested in how people learn new motor skills - in a potentially scary environment. Most swim schools just focus on arms and legs; but your body is controlled by your brain - so we need to understand what is going on in your head. Especially any mental baggage that is holding you back (which unfortunately might include misinformation from other swimmers, the internet or well-meaning friends). Often it takes a while to get this stuff out in the open - but it's usually a big turning point, when you can re-evaluate previously unchallenged assumptions; and start to really learn in a new way.
A fairly common example is the assumption that swimming is of roughly the same technical complexity as running, cycling or rowing. You just need to learn the arm and leg movements; and then you can start pounding out the lengths. Sounds pretty straightforward - so why does it turn out to be so difficult??? The reality is swimming is much more like sailing, skiing, or driving a car - there is a LOT of technique to master if you want to be any good. Students who assume it "should" be easy need to let go of the idea that they can force it to work through sheer effort. Once they let go, they are able to "tune in" to the subtleties of balance and body position and become much more in control of their own body.
The opposite end of this particular spectrum is the student who over-analyses every little detail. Seems like they are more interested in talking and thinking about swimming than learning to do it. There are plenty of examples on internet forums of people debating the finer points of technique or fluid mechanics, who are exhausted after a single length. It's understandable that some people need a theroretical context for their learning, but there comes a point where you have to get on with it. To these students we say, We've spent some time Talking and Thinking - now it's time for Doing and Feeling.
TERM DATES 2020-21
Due to the pandemic, our term dates are uncertain this year. We will try to schedule extra dates to make up for any missed due to lockdowns. The latest dates are available upon request.
TIMES (school terms only)
Saturdays 1.00pm - 5.15pm.
Sundays 9.00am - 5.00pm.
Please contact us for specific class times
Sir Thomas Rich's School
5 mins drive from M5 J11
(Also easily accessible from Cheltenham via A40)
Currently we only teach adults in PRIVATE LESSONS. This is because we have found through experience that each individual's needs are unique.
PRICES - Private Lessons
£30.00 per half hour