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Don’t Set Limits

Simon Swimming in Croatia

A big shout out and congratulations to Simon of London, UK. Simon came to Fit&Abel in June this year. At 52 years young he was scared of deep water, not a confident swimmer but most importantly he was uncertain as to whether or not he could ever learn to get comfortable in deep water , let alone open water. This was part of his first e-mail  to us: “At 52, I have never mastered swimming and  nervous to go near deep water. I would be really grateful if I could organise some 1 to 1 coaching to at least teach me the basics and gain the confidence that I lack. I can swim (poorly) a very short distance front crawl.

Simons goal was to go on a swim holiday off a boat. We told him that with some hard work (mental and physical) this was perfectly achievable. To Simons credit he bought in to our belief that a safe, fun, successful swim journey was very much a possibility. Simon bought three 121 lessons to begin. Our focus was on starting with the basics, showing him that he was more than capable and most importantly that even the process of learning and facing ones fear can still be a process that includes some laughter and fun.

Simon started coming more often, over June , July and August he made three lessons a week fairly regularly. We had ups and downs… “ I was frustrated yesterday… but I guess that’s all part of the equation.I know I’ve made good progress and to keep pushing on out of my comfort zone is all part of my progress.” The key was Simon stuck at the process, sometimes he was frustrated but he never gave up. It’s never linear … like any journey there are good days and better days. But as we progressed and the basics became more comfortable we were able to add more to the lessons; we covered the basics of front crawl, efficient body positions in deep water, jumping into and exiting deep water, the art and ‘secret’s of breathing , ‘go to’ positions’ for rest in deep water including sculling, treading water and floating on ones back. We set challenges and goals along the way to tick off and celebrate.

Note that all of this is taking place in Tooting Bec Lido, a ‘natural’ water temperature pool which in June means water temperatures well below 20C. We also completed all of the basics without a wetsuit. As Simon was new to swimming he didn’t know any different.  Sure he got cold to begin but the water temperature became his ‘normal’. As the water temperature naturally heated up he felt that increase and enjoyed it. In late August we added the wetsuit to Simons swim kit. Because he’d learnt the basics without one he was better placed to take advantage of the attributes of the wetsuit … and he certainly had enough experience by now to appreciate them.

After three months Simon had built up enough confidence and experience to take to the open water proper. Sure there were nerves to begin and he took it tentatively to start with – and rightly so, but again with persistence, his new found knowledge, encouragement from friends and family and a great attitude Simon continued to tick off new achievements in his swimming … until it was finally time to take on the ultimate goal… a swim holiday in Croatia. It was a pleasure to get Simons first e-mail while on his swim trip … “ The most freedom and joy …I can’t quite describe..
I was as most definitely as happy as a pig in..!
Thanks for all the incredible coaching you gave me over the 2.5 months. This water is like bath water in comparison to Tooting!”

Some final words from Simon … when we asked him if it was OK to share his journey “if I can give someone the chance to experience the freedom I felt these past few days..then it has to be done!”

And in his words… “What a holiday… I’m bushed… but I’m so glad I went…
It’s been a long time to wait, 53 years to breaking this fear.
Everyone was so supportive of me..  and I only used the wet suit once!


Don’t let a bad experience put you off swimming in the future. For you. For your children perhaps? For your health certainly. For fun and to meet new people … definitely.  The mind will always set limits the body has no idea exist. Swimming … give it go!






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