I have a confession. I never really learned to swim as a child. Sure, I was comfortable in the water and I could save my life. I could even swim a few sad laps with my head craning out of the water. I never learned to swim efficiently though. When I began triathlon training, I realized I needed to learn to swim properly.

I began by asking my high school son to look at my swim and give me some pointers. He tried, but I think he wanted to avoid hurting his mom’s feelings. I quickly realized I needed additional help. I needed a coach. So, I joined a morning swim group at the Middle Tyger YMCA. Once a week, I get up super early and swim with a group. While I wouldn’t say that I am a great swimmer (yet), I am seeing progress. My coach motivates me to get out of bed and go to the pool. Knowing that someone is watching my progress is a great incentive to put in the work.

Learning to swim as an adult is definitely challenging, because instead of learning from scratch as you would as a child, you have to unlearn a lot of bad habits. Some adults must overcome a fear of the water as they learn to swim. Swimming is a skill that is worth learning though! Adult swim classes are not often advertised, but they are offered at the YMCA and other swim centers. Don’t be afraid to ask. No matter what you think, you are not the only adult in the world who needs swimming lessons. It is nothing to be embarrassed about.

There are a lot of reasons you might want to learn to swim, from being able to confidently play with your children in the water to getting a serious workout. The amount of time it takes to learn to swim varies by individual and is dependent upon natural ability and childhood exposure, according to Peter Kotland, a swim coach, triathlon coach and professional triathlete.

“Swimming provides a full body workout, that engages both the musculature, as well as the cardio systems,” Kotland said.

It targets areas of the body that we often neglect — particularly the muscles in our arms and chest. It is also great for our core because of the need to balance our bodies in the water.

Kotland said his biggest tip for aspiring swimmers is to have patience.

“Swimming requires a lot of technique, and it can’t be learned overnight,” he said.

Like anything, it requires practice. That practice can be fun and relaxing. As with any skill based sport, the more you practice, the faster the learning curve.

“Enjoy the process, as you learn a new skill that will last forever,” Kotland said.

Where to learn

The YMCA offers Parent & Child Swim Classes as well as Adult Swim Classes throughout the year. Find class information and signups in Greenville at Find information for Spartanburg at, for Anderson at and for Pickens County at

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