Wednesday, 27 April 2016

Sweet Sixteen

Last nights lesson was number 16 and I definitely feel different when I go in now. I'm not worried about what's coming, I'm not scared of the water anymore although still not been out my depth but I think I can safely say I've got a handle on this swimming lark!

Last night I worked a lot on kicking trying to keep legs straight and together. My teacher videoed it so I could see what I was doing and it didn't look like what I thought I was doing so that helped.
Did a bit of back swimming/floating which is definitely better than it was and lots of diving for toys, much deeper than I ever have before. I managed to get all the toys!

A while ago I downloaded an ebook which really helped me changed the way I think about water. I also really like watching the videos on you tube. The book is called conquer your fear of swimming and I bought it from the miracle swimming website. It's really well written as a self help book and the writer really believes in her method which comes through.  I thoroughly recommend it.

Next steps are working on technique and stamina to be able to swim a length without panting for breath :)

Friday, 22 April 2016

Ole green eyes

Quick non swimming post. So my wee girl is in for swimming lessons. We go straight from school and it's a bit of a rush. Past few weeks have been school hols so we have gone with her but the pool shuts at 4 so it's not worth it today.
Anyway, the pool is deserted and only has two other people in apart from her and I'm actually aching to get in.
This time 3 months ago I would have felt sick at the thought of it. I used to feel panicked sitting in the safe area at the side and now I'm feeling jealous that I'm not in there! I also think the smell now induces excited feelings and not bad ones?
A weird post but it's a weird and amazing feeling!

Wednesday, 20 April 2016

The waiting game

So I'm here waiting to go in for my lesson...40 mins early. It's lovely so I can add some nice pics!
I did lots of practice Friday and Monday so hopefully it shows.
Back float is getting there and breathing is getting better.

So that lesson was fab. Working more on technique now. It's really hard when you can't see what your arms and legs are doing! Was able to float on back and kick legs better and also stayed up deep end more so that was good for confidence. 

Friday, 15 April 2016

Facing my nemesis - the backfloat!

After this weeks early lesson and being away with the family for a few days, I was keen to get in and practice the backfloat. My daughter has lessons at the local pool so its a good time for me to go and get some practice.

This is where i'm starting to realise I lucked out in all the years I didn't take part in the family swims....trying to get the kids ready.  Its a nightmare! My youngest two are particularly good at winding each other up and there is no better place than the changing rooms for a brother sister fight.

Todays weapon of choice for me was a personal favourite.....the good old threat of birthday cancellation and I have to say it worked a treat, at first. Then they argued over who got which changing room, who got which shower, who held the float, who held the diving otter stick and finally who got to race me first. Luckily the lesson started for my daughter and me and my son were left in peace.

Again the pool was quiet so I got plenty of practice in. I had a few shots at front crawl and then breastroke where I practised coming up for air. Then I knew I had to practice the backfloat. I asked my son to show me how he does it. He demonstrated that he kind of sticks his chest out, so I copied him. Then he said "sometimes I go under but I like it when that happens."

For some reason this stuck in my head. I thought about why it made me nervous and its the though of falling backwards and not being able to get back up. But, I can swim underwater and I can get myself up.

So I decided to practice first just landing on my bum under water and then standing up. Then I pushed my arms to help me get up. I did it so often I knew if I did fall under water it wouldnt bother me anymore. The lifeguards must have been wondering what I was doing!

Then I held onto the wall with one hand and I leaned back...I floated! and when it came to standing up, I wobbled a bit but I got back up. I did this again and again until I didn't need to hold on but by the time they rang the alarm to clear the pool I had mastered the backfloat!

I go for my fantastic swimming lessons in Glasgow with

Monday, 11 April 2016

Roasty toasty!

Thought I would add a quick blogpost while its fresh in my head.

I had a lesson tonight (Monday) instead of the usual Tuesday night lesson. It was weird going home first, it kind of messed with my head but I think that's a good thing.

The pool was really warm today, no complaints from me, but the teacher said it had been a struggle for others and that it had been warmer earlier. It was nice to get into though and my goggles didn't steam up today.....bonus.

Today I did much better at taking breaths while doing breaststroke. I think I was managing every second stroke.  I was really pleased with this because I can really feel it coming together.

I also did a bit of floating on my back, this time in the shallow end with the teacher behind me for support. I really need to practice this.  It still feels scary and I could feel myself tensing up, I just couldn't relax at all.

Did two lengths of front crawl which I think was better and fast, I'm feeling more confident doing this too. Once I get the back float sorted I think ill be able to learn the breathing for this....something to aim towards.

Finally, diving for the little sharks. Secretly my favourite part of the lesson. When I first started and I watched a wee girl doing this I thought ill never manage that and I can.....get this, even two at a time!

I'm getting there!

Great videos for technique here SpeedoInternational

Sunday, 10 April 2016

Getting up to date

So I think we can happily agree that I was off to a good start. The lessons were going well. I was floating on my front a bit more confidently. I had even attempted a bit of swimming underwater kicking my legs.

Something I did have trouble with was standing up after being horizontal in the water. Every time I stopped I would grab onto the side with my hand instead of just standing up using my core, legs and arms. The further into the deep water I moved the more I relied on holding onto the side, it was really frustrating.

My teacher was great though. She reassured me that it didn't matter if I felt I had to grab onto the side at first...I was moving through the water, albeit it slowly and eventually I would lose the need to hold on.

Soon we got to moving on to a new skill...the backfloat. Up at the deep end in the corner, I would hold on to the side, lean back and put my head in the water up to my ears. I didn't enjoy this. To me it felt out of control and that if I let go I would just fall back under the water and not be able to get back up.

I did a few while holding on, then I talked myself into letting go and it was fine, I floated, but then I lost balance and went under water. It was only a brief moment but it felt horrible. The water went up my nose and that familiar spluttering feeling was back and I didn't like it. I tried again but I didn't want to let go of the side.  I felt like this was going to be a real challenge to overcome.

I think this was the week I realised two things. I understood the learning curve. It doesn't go up and up. Some weeks are just to consolidate learning, some weeks go a bit backwards...but that's ok.

The other thing I realised was that learning a new skill as an adult is mentally exhausting and really, really hard.  I would watch what my teacher asked me to do, it looked simple. But when you are talking yourself through it in steps, thinking ahead remembering what to do and not to do....its almost harder than the physical activity itself.  Also the tendency to over think what I'm doing instead of just getting in there and doing it....that can be really annoying.

So we are almost up to where I am now....lesson 14.  I am able to do the breast stroke underwater and I'm just trying to master coming up for air (harder than it sounds!). I can do the front crawl but haven't quite mastered the arms yet.

The back float is still my nemesis.....tomorrow nights lesson might change all this, I'm thinking positive!

Swimming lessons in Glasgow

Friday, 8 April 2016

Great expectations

After the first lesson I had a lot of people to text who were all waiting with baited breath to see if I sank like a stone. I was overjoyed to tell them it was a great lesson and I couldn't wait for next week and at that point (the evening after the lesson), I couldn't.

But, as the week wore on, I started to dread it because I knew I was vested in this learning to swim process. I had paid up for a five lesson block and there was no going back.

I also knew that getting in the pool and putting my face in the water was a great start but I would eventually have to face the deep end and that's where my fear really was.

So, after a fairly uneventful week at work. I did the drive to the hotel again. A particularly nice drive over the Clyde via the squinty bridge and past the SSE Hydro. I always end up being a little bit early which gives the nerves more time to work on me.

In I went past reception, got my towel and locker key, got myself sorted and went through the pool door. This time there was someone else still finishing their lesson, so I sat at the shallow end of the pool and dangled my legs in.  It's a nice warm pool which somehow takes away a bit of the fear. Is fear cold?? I don't know if that's true but it made me feel better anyway.

Soon my teacher was finished with her previous student and made her way over to me. She asks me how my week was, what's been happening and how I'm feeling and I like to be honest so I said I felt more nervous than last week...which was true.

So we started off repeating what we had done the previous lesson. It almost felt like I was starting again. I seemed to have forgotten what I had done last week and the confidence I had gained from the before had gone and I felt the feeling of doom setting in again.

It didn't take long though and I got back to where I was, sticking my head under and blowing out the bubbles. Then we did a bit of floating on my front while I held the teachers hands and in the end I let go. That felt amazing, I could float! Something I completely doubted in my head was actually possible.

Again the lesson ended with a high five and again I headed for the showers with that mini fist pump feeling!

I realised after the second lesson that half an hour in the pool per week wasn't enough and that I would have to practise in between lessons.

I have never been swimming with my family. I have four kids between 5 and 16 and in all those 16 years we have never been swimming together. This is my husbands domain, I'm not part of it at all. So when I announced we were going to go swimming, the kids were happy that I was coming too.

We went to the local pool which is pretty basic. A training pool and a larger 25m pool. No fancy slides or wave machines.....a basic council pool.  The kind I used to hate.

The first thing I noticed when I got in was the stronger smell of chlorine, the smell hit me like a brick. It was also a lot colder than the hotel pool but I expected this so in we went. Luckily, having a 5 year old with me seemed to make it ok to go into the training pool. I think if I had went on my own I would have felt a fraud going in there....all in my head, but its a bit screwed up in there and that's how I think.

This pool has shallow stairs that go in and the maximum depth is 0.9 m. We got in and I naturally gravitated to the side. I felt like my family were looking at me waiting for my party trick, like I was going to swim from one side to the other...that I was cured!

But, no anything I had learned at the lesson in the nice hotel pool didn't seem to transfer to other pools. It all felt so foreign and different and not in a good way. I attempted a bit of a float while holding onto the wall and stuck my head under water a little but mostly I just bobbed about and watched the others. It was a bit of a disappointment.

When we got in the car my son said how nice it was to have me there. I don't think they really noticed what I was doing they were too busy playing. It was enough for him to just have me there. That cheered me up and we decided the following weekend we would go to another pool. This time more of a fun pool and by that time I would have had another lesson and would be more confident.

I also needed a new swimsuit. The 1920's granny look was not cutting it any more.

It was time to get serious......

 love speedo swimsuits and goggles :)

Wednesday, 6 April 2016

Lesson one

So I started lessons and after a few weeks my fear was gone and I could swim...hallelujah!

Erm.... no, that's not quite how it went.

After the lesson was booked and I couldn't back out (and I realised I didn't want to), I had to do a late night dash to buy a swimsuit. As it was just after Christmas, Sainsburys didn't have their summer range in yet so I ended up with one that wouldn't have looked out of place on a beach in the 1920s!

So I was all ready. I just had to get through one day at work then I would go straight to the swimming lesson. I wouldn't have much time to think about it which suited me fine. I did a couple of google searches on the hotel so I could see what to expect from the pool before I got there. It looked nice and not as scary as public pools so I felt a bit better but the nerves were still there.

I walked up to the recreation area of the hotel and told the guy behind the desk I was here for a swimming lesson. He handed me a locker key and a towel and pointed me in the right direction of the changing rooms.

This reminded me of another reason I dont like swimming...the changing rooms. As this was a hotel it was a bit more pleasant. But still wet floors, hair on the floor and I could smell the chlorine from the pool. As I was getting ready I could hear the door to the pool opening and closing and the echo noises of voices coming through.

I pushed the nervous feelings away, got myself ready and headed for the pool.

I didn't know who to expect. A man, a woman, young or old so I hoped they would stand out as a teacher. Luckily it was very obvious as a young woman was sitting on a bench at the side of the pool and she seemed to be waiting for me. She was really friendly and put me at ease straight away.

She asked me how I felt about getting in the pool and to be honest I didn't want to come across as a complete wreck so I said fine and we got in. This lesson was for her to see what sort of stage I was at and to come up with a plan of action.

We started off by walking up the side of the pool from the shallow end just holding on to the side. This seemed easy enough but as we got deeper I started to feel uncomfortable but that was fine and we just walked back. Then she got me to put my shoulders under water and walk up and down the pool. Next I put my chin in and up and down we went a few times. It was repetitive but I could feel myself getting more comfortable in the water. The last exercise was putting my face in and blowing bubbles out through my felt strange at first but the more I walked up and down the poolside it became easier and lastly I put my whole face under and held my breath for a good few seconds.

I couldn't believe in half an hour I was already sticking my face under water! I got a high five from my teacher and climbed out the pool feeling exhilarated. Suddenly that feeling of never being able to swim was disappearing and a new world of opportunity was opening up.

I got into the shower, pressed the button and hoped it was hot.....and then I gave a little squeal of joy!

Swimming lessons in Glasgow
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Taking the plunge

Irony plays a big part in my quest to be water confident.

Firstly, I am a Pisces, a water sign, symbolized by fish….surely this means I should be a natural swimmer? You would think!

I worked for 3 years as a receptionist at a leisure centre. I would talk nervous people into going for swimming lessons telling them “do it now or you never will.” I should have practised what I preached. I distinctly remember a training session poolside where I was physically shaking at the thought of falling in the pool, but having to act like I was as comfortable as Rebecca Adlington. I doubt anyone ever guessed I could have been sick in the pool with the smell!

Thirdly, I work for Scottish Water…..need I say more?

So, I had decided something had to be done. After the holiday in Marbella I made a pact that I was going to find swimming lessons. But, this wasn’t the first time I had decided on this and usually after a fruitless search would give up and again resign myself to being a non swimmer.

Something changed at New Year. We booked a holiday and I was excitedly telling the kids about how it was next to a water park. My little girl asked me if I would come down the slide with her and instead of making an excuse I said yes I absolutely will. I wanted to be part of this holiday, fully not watching from the sidelines. I also wanted the photos to prove it!

I knew I couldn’t take the chance that I would go back on my word and hope she would forget so on a night out for dinner with my sister and best friend I told them I was going to learn to swim. They were both really supportive as usual and I looked forward to sharing the experience with them. So by telling them I had to start the search for lessons. I wanted them to know I was serious.

During my lunchbreak at work the next day, I did a quick search. I wanted lessons that were tailored to nervous swimmers and I needed it to be a 1-1. Lots of adult lessons came up but they were in places I didn’t know or couldn’t get to, they were for people who weren’t scared of water, just wanting to improve there technique. This was not what I was looking for.

Then I found a website called Swimming Masters. It said they had a unique and proven way to learn to swim. It looked welcoming compared to other websites. So, I typed out an email before I could change my mind, secretly hoping no one would reply and I would have an excuse….can’t say I didn’t try.

A response did come back. Almost straight away I was asked what time would suit me and that a Tuesday evening was free at 5.30pm. It was Monday…I could start the next day. I replied speedily before I lost my nerve. Feeling empowered I replied “Great, I would love to start tomorrow and I look forward to seeing you.”

…….and then I clicked send.

I go for my swimming lessons with Vivienne at

How I became a non-swimmer

I wanted to write this blog as so many people have been so lovely and supportive about a topic I thought would be really embarrassing and has haunted me my entire life.

I figured if I wrote this blog and one other person read it and found some help, then it was a job well done…so here goes.

I have been for pretty much for all of my 39 years a non swimmer. No, hold that thought that makes me sound like someone who just doesn’t swim, cause they do not want to. Like choosing to be a non smoker, non drinker……it is not like that at all.

I am petrified of water or more correctly swimming pools. The smell of chlorine, the coldness, the feeling of it in your hair, on your skin, up your nose. Sharing a bath with people i don’t know and quite frankly don’t want to be near naked with. The echo noise, the tiles, the smell, the smell, THE SMELL!

It can’t have always been like this. I know I acquired this fear somewhere along the way. Apparently I was chucked in the deep end as a 2 year old by my well meaning granny as this was the best way to teach children to swim. I don’t remember this but it didn’t work….I cant swim.

What I do remember is that in first year of high school, a particularly vicious PE teacher lined us all up in order of height along the side of the swimming pool and told us to jump in and swim across. Me, being 5’7″ from the age of 11 and one of the taller members of the class (boys and girls) was faced with a slog across the deep end. I knew it wouldn’t end well but I remember thinking surely if I just get in and thrash across ill be fine…so in I jumped.

It didn’t end well I ended up trapped on the bottom of the pool and the lovely teacher sent in the best looking boy in the class to rescue me while I coughed, spluttered and snottered my way to the side of the pool as she commented “this is why we learn to swim.”

From that moment I have come up with every excuse under the sun to get out of swimming. I was blessed with excema which got me out of any further school lessons. When my group of friends all started going to the Paisley Lagoon on a Friday night, I found new friends so I didn’t have to go (fairly extreme but it worked!). I managed to have weekend jobs by the time my husband was taking the kids so I always got out of it. It has been 30 years of being devious and clever but not fun.
I always felt like I was missing out. I desperately wanted to go to the lagoon with friends but there was no way I could put myself through that. I wanted to go on family swims when the kids were babies but what if they picked up my fear, I could never forgive myself for that. So it was easy. I just didn’t go. I was a non-swimmer, always would be and that was that.

So, what changed then? Well for the last few years we have had family holidays abroad. Nice hot places with nice pools. You have probably seen the photos on Facebook. Lots of lovely pictures of my kids and my husband in the pool. Lots of pictures taken by me, the official holiday photographer who has no photos taken of her in the pool cause she hardly got in it. Then on a girls holiday in Marbella it was blistering hot and my two friends got into the lovely, cool pool and swam away. I just felt a complete rush of jealousy. I wanted to get in swim across, swim under, float on my back, on my front….be cool. What was stopping me?

I had watched the Paralympics. blind people, athletes with one arm, one leg, no arms… they could swim. There was absolutely no medical reason why I couldn’t swim.

I had finally had enough of being a non-swimmer….something had to be done!

speedo goggles are the best!