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  • Hamptons Swim Team

What Is Water Trauma and How Do I Know If My Child Has It?

If you are concerned that your child has water trauma, there are a few different things to consider. Traumatic aquatic experiences almost always occur in childhood and stem from feeling a loss of control in the water. There's a large number of adults who self-report never learning to swim as kids, and 20% who share traumatic "survival stories" of being thrown in and dunked under against their will. Often by someone trying to help them "learn to swim." The most common cause of water trauma is a previous negative experience. If a swimmer has been through a near-drowning experience or even a bad swimming lesson, they are more likely to develop a fear of water. The way that these situations are handled afterward plays a major role in determining whether a phobia will occur in the future. At Hamptons Swim, we are trained to know the signs, help your child overcome these fears, and create a safe and healthy relationship with the water.

Some of the more common symptoms of water trauma (or aquaphobia) include an immediate feeling of intense fear, anxiety, and panic when thinking about water. As instructors, we are able to identify these and ease our students' fear surrounding water using techniques such as:

Relationship Building:

  • It's important to remember that the swimmer will have additional anxiety from their past water traumas.

  • Building trust is the biggest, most important key in helping them overcome their fear of the water.

  • Exercising extra patience and gentleness without forcing anything will help build the relationship between student and teacher.

Positive Mindset Techniques:

  • Remain positive and remind students that it takes time to overcome challenges.

  • Celebrate every tiny step with affirmations and reminders of progress.

  • Remember that everyone learns at their own pace!

It's ok for the student to feel fear and ask a lot of questions...that's normal! BABY STEPS! It's ok if it takes a long time for the student to put their face in and do simple tasks. It’s important to never push them beyond their comfort as premature pushing can lead to regression. Using logic and words of affirmation with older kids will be key in helping them develop comfortability and confidence in the water. At Hamptons Swim, encouraging visualization during the lesson (ie. How amazing would it be if you could do those things in the pool?) will help them strive for success and want to create a safe and healthy relationship with the water!


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