written by
Kiel Olver

Your Swimming Journey Starts Here

Learn 6 min read

Swimming is one of the most valuable skills you can learn at any age, whether for safety reasons or simply to enable you to try new aquatics experiences like snorkelling, surfing, or scuba diving.

If you or your young ones are just getting started on your swimming journey, here are some some tips and resources to help you dive right in.

1. Figure Out Why You Want to Learn to Swim

A group of swimmers enjoy snorkelling together.
Snorkelling with friends is a great way to enjoy swimming together

People choose to learn swimming for different reasons. Maybe you heard it's a great way to stay in shape or perhaps you have a fear of deep water that you'd like to overcome. Once you've figured out what motivates you most, taking the first step will be easier.

Swimming for Survival

71% of the planet is covered in water, so even if you don't live by the coast chances are you will end up visiting a beach, lake, or island at some point in your life. If the thought of being in deep water terrifies you, that should be motivation enough to sign up for at least a few swimming lessons so that you can learn the basics. If you have children, then you owe it to your family to ensure everyone knows how to be safe around the water.

Swimming for Fun

The best vacations are filled with adventure. Water activities like surfing, snorkelling, and jet skiing are unique experiences that anyone can do β€”Β if you already know how to swim. If you're not a strong swimmer, a small investment in your swimming skills now will open you up to a new world of aquatic adventures for the rest of your life.

Swimming for Exercise

Most people know that swimming can save your life but did you know that it can also extend and enrich your life? Swimming is a unique workout for your whole body that tones muscles, builds strength, and improves cardio endurance. And since water provides high resistance with low impact, it's also an exercise you can learn now and continue to reap health benefits from well into your old age.

2. Get to Know What You Don't Know

A boy wearing scuba goggles holds an alien looking starfish.
The aquatic world is full of strange new things

If you're new to swimming, the world of aquatics can seem quite foreign. There are different ways to learn, various strokes and skills to master, and equipment you may or may not need. To help you wrap your head around all of these check out a learn-to-swim overview designed specifically for you.

  1. The Ultimate Parent's Guide to Kids Swimming Lessons
  2. Adult Swimming Lessons: A Guide for Absolute Beginners

Just like you first learned to crawl, walk, and then run, the path to learning how to swim contains a number of key progressions.

A diagram showing the various swimming levels you may encounter on your swimming journey.
A high level overview of the key progressions you will learn.

For those who have already had some exposure to the water, taking a moment to decide what you are comfortable with will help you to figure out how to continue from where you left off.

3. Set a Goal and Break It Down

To achieve any long term goal, you should first break it down into smaller steps. Planning a vacation next year that will cost $1200? Commit to saving $100 a month and you're done. Let's say you wanted to try surfing on that trip. You might break that lofty goal down into more manageable steps like this:

  1. Ask a lifeguard or swim instructor what skills you'll need to learn (free)
  2. Take some beginner swimming lessons (breathing, floating, and kicking)
  3. Book some private lessons (work on arms for pulling and treading water)
  4. Sign up for a surfing lesson β€”Β and you're done!
A woman in a wetsuit holding a surf board as she wades into the water.
Surfs up ✌️

If surfing seems a bit extreme, snorkelling is an even easier water activity that can be tons of fun for swimmers of all ages and abilities. Swimming with a snorkel doesn't require you to know much about arm strokes and can even be done while wearing a life jacket.

The skills required to snorkel are:

  1. Get familiar with the water (getting wet, putting your face in, breathing)
  2. Learn how to float (orienting yourself, upright to laying flat and back again)
  3. Learn to propel yourself (kicking your feet, pulling with your hands)
  4. Learn how to properly wear a snorkelling mask and lifejacket (optional)

For a more in-depth guide to snorkelling check out divein.com's Snorkelling 101.

4. Learn By Doing

A first person view of someone looking down a poolside ladder with their feet on the pool's edge.
Just take it one step at a time and you'll be fine

Unfortunately for you, internet friend, you aren't going to learn how to swim by reading articles and watching youtube videos. Swimming is an inherently physical activity that requires real world practice to master. There are some things you can do to both accelerate your progress and ensure you don't forget how to swim as time goes on.

Start Now β€” Like Right This Second

There's no time like the present and if you're free tonight, as soon as you're done reading this article, head to your local swimming pool and go for a dip. Your first time may be kind of awkward, since you might not have everything you need but the only way to know what you're missing is to try it.

Ask Lots of Questions

While you're at the pool, ask the front desk for a pool schedule. Ask the lifeguard what skills they would recommend you work on to achieve your goals. If you can't register for lessons because all of the classes are full then ask when the next registration date is. Or even better, ask the lifeguard if they teach private lessons and skip the registration headache altogether.

Practice on Your Own Between Lessons

Regardless of whether you take group or private lessons, few swim schools will share this secret with you 🀫. Students swimming skills improve much faster and are remembered longer when they commit to practicing on their own β€” in between lessons. Just like homework reinforces classroom learning, practicing on your own builds muscle memory and helps you realize what skills you actually can't do without your teacher assisting you. Once you discover what you need to work on, you'll know to focus on those skills during your next class.

5. Switch It Up

4 photos in a panel: an aerial view of a boat towing people riding innertubes, a woman relaxing while floating in the water, a person swimming front crawl in between lane ropes, a man surfing a half crested wave.
Try a different water activity every season and give yourself a reason to keep swimming

As the old adage goes β€” use it or lose it. Even if you've mastered the basics of swimming, the best way to maintain your skills (and stay fit πŸ˜‰) is to engage in some kind of water activity at least once per season.


Trips to the lake or beach? You shouldn't need a more compelling reason to say "Count me in!". Also, being towed by a boat while riding an inner tube or wake board is the best.


As the days get shorter and seasonal depression starts to kick in, a great way to nurture yourself is to give yourself a gym, swim, steam & sauna session πŸ§–β€β™€οΈπŸ§–.


When the weather takes a turn for the worse, sometimes you just need to escape to a better climate. Take advantage of that last minute flight deal and you could be surfing in Sayulita by this time next week.


Many local pools offer super cheap new year passes that will let you dive back into some lane swimming and burn off those extra pounds you gained over the holidays.

Where to Next?

If you haven't already, jump into one our beginner swimmer guides which contain the essential information you need to know about learning how to swim.

  1. The Ultimate Parent's Guide to Kids Swimming Lessons
  2. Adult Swimming Lessons: A Guide for Absolute Beginners

Other Great Resources:

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