Learning to swim is a completely different experience for all adults, therefore how long it takes an adult to learn to swim will vary.
On average, it will take an adult who is not afraid of the water and is relatively fit, around 35 hours of lessons, to gain basic swimming skills. However, this will vary dramatically depending on factors such as access to pools, and the ability to coordinate breathing techniques.
If you have a fear of the water or zero water confidence (like I had in the early days of learning to swim), it can take much longer to learn to swim and sometimes, years to master the art of swimming.
With a crippling fear of deep water, I have had a very long journey to learning how to swim, but I learned some valuable things along the way that I would like to share, so you can take some shortcuts!
In this article I am going to share:
- How long it takes to learn to swim for an adult.
- Is swimming difficult to learn?
- Tips to learn to swim for adults.
- Am I too old to learn to swim?
How Long Does It Takes To Learn To Swim For An Adult?
Unfortunately, there is no definitive answer to this question, as learning to swim depends on varying factors, such as:
- Natural water confidence
- Fear of the water
- Athletic ability
- Ability to follow instructions
- Natural water ability
- General fitness levels
- Regular access to the pool
If you are already relatively fit and comfortable in the water, you can master the basic strokes within 35 hours of lessons.
I recommend the Total Immersion Swimming Method on Udemy (here is a link) as a great video course to learn how to swim or improve your swimming technique. This course has helped me immensely!
With regular practice, you can progress to swimming a mile in under a year.
On the other hand, if you have a fear of water, learning to swim can take much longer. For example, the time between my first lesson and my first (comfortable) length was 7 years. However, I still have a fear of deep water.
Although I was not going regularly to the pool, over those seven years I tried everything from group swimming lessons, private swimming lessons, and swimming clinics.
It was not until I discovered the Total Immersion Swimming Method that things began to click.
Is Swimming Difficult To Learn?
Swimming can be a tough skill to learn if you are not water confident or do not feel comfortable in the water.
I have a fear of the water and terrible water ability, with zero kicking power and water balance issues. Therefore, it took a long time for me to learn how to swim.
In the early days of learning to swim I tried everything from traditional swimming lessons, (where I felt dreadful because I never progressed like everyone else), swim clinics, (where I felt overlooked as my technique never improved at the speed of everyone else in the class) and one-to-one private lessons, (which were great, but just too expensive to maintain.)
Not everyone has this experience, however, and if you are the kind of person who is excited by the water and wants to jump in, you could swim well within a month.
Is There A Quick Way To Learn To Swim?
As an adult, if you want to progress quickly at learning to swim and improving your technique, then as mentioned I 100% recommend the Total Immersion Swim Method. (Link to course here)
After years of a poor kick, being exhausted, doing one length and being terrified as soon as I was out of my depth, this swimming method taught me how to embrace swimming and swim effortlessly.
Over two weeks I went from a real beginner with terrible technique, to swimming lengths effortlessly.
I have dedicated a whole article to this method, so if you want to learn more, check it out below:
Tips To Learn To Swim For Adults
The following are a few things I have learned from my experience of learning to swim.
1 – If You Have A Fear Of Water, Book A 1-2-1 Private Lesson
You will not overcome a fear of water in a group swim lesson. You need a one to one, private lesson with a swim tutor.
Ideally, this swim tutor will get in the water with you.
With a private tutor giving you their full attention, they can help you understand your fear and identify any movements that you are making in the water that might cause you to sink or panic.
In addition, you can explain your fear of the water to your tutor, who can help you through it.
My fear of water was purely a fear of deep water. As soon as I got out of my depth, my brain forgot to swim and would panic.
I had a 1 to 1 private lesson with a professional synchronised swimmer who taught me how to tread water using the “eggbeater kick”. This was such a breakthrough for me.
She identified I was scared of deep water as no one had taught me how to tread water, so I spent my time in the deep end focusing on how to get to the wall and not stop. If I stopped, I sank.
Treading water is a fundamental step in learning how to swim and overcome a fear of water.
2 – Find A Shallow Pool
Most public pools have a shallow and deep end, however, most hotel or gym pools are one depth and waist-deep for an average height adult.
Learning to swim in a shallow pool can help you progress quickly, as you can push yourself to practice strokes, but if you get exhausted or have to stop, you can just stand up.
This can take the fear element out of learning to swim and allow you to focus purely on your technique.
3 – Learn The Total Immersion Swim Method
From my experience, the fastest and best way to learn how to swim as an adult is to follow the Total Immersion Swimming Method.
Discovering this swimming method was a breakthrough for me, which really changed my swimming life.
Over the period of 14 days, I went from struggling to do one length of a 15m pool, to doing endless and effortless swim laps.
It was like all the hard work and years of struggling to learn how to swim paid off in just one go!
4 – Reward Yourself
Learning to swim is an important life skill and a significant achievement. Ensure you celebrate your achievements and milestones as your swimming progresses to remind yourself of how far you have come.
If you book yourself a swimming lesson, or get your head under the water and exhale, or you took any step that shows progression, congratulate yourself!
Personally, I like to treat myself to new swim gear. When I first swam a full-length front crawl without being out of breath, I treated myself to a new Speedo swimsuit like this one on Amazon!
5 – Track Your progress
To improve your swimming it helps to track your progress. I use a swimming log book where I record my daily swim times, distances and moods. This is the swimming log book I use (view here on Amazon) which also doubles up as a mindfulness journal which is awesome.
Am I Too Old To Learn To Swim?
You are never too old to learn to swim.
Swimming is a low-impact sport, which means it is easy on the joints. This makes it a wonderful sport to pick up, especially as we age.
There is also no age limit on swim technique. I often get overtaken in the pool by swimmers at least twice my age and more.
I recall one particular time; I stopped mid-swim to watch an 80+-year-old woman do a fantastic butterfly stroke. It was her swim technique that made me stop to watch; it was only later in the changing rooms when we chatted I realised she was in her eighties.
If swimming is something you always wanted to do, there is still time as you are never too old to learn how to swim!