Common Mistakes in Learning to Swim and How to Avoid Them

swimming lessons


Learning to swim is a significant milestone for many Kiwis, given the abundance of stunning coastlines and water bodies in New Zealand. However, this journey is not without its challenges, and beginners often find themselves making common mistakes that can impede their progress.

In this comprehensive article, we will delve into the pitfalls of learning to swim. By understanding these mistakes and learning how to avoid them, aspiring swimmers can make their aquatic journey more enjoyable and successful.

Swimming Lessons: Diving into the Common Mistakes

men giving swimming lessons to kid

Skipping Basics for Advanced Techniques

One of the most common mistakes beginners make is overlooking the importance of mastering the basics in their eagerness to dive into advanced swimming techniques. Foundational skills such as floating, proper breathing techniques, and basic kicks are the building blocks of proficient swimming. Skipping these fundamental steps can lead to poor form and hinder the progress of your swimming lessons.

Avoidance Tip: To counteract this, it is crucial to enrol in a reputable swimming program that emphasises a step-by-step approach. Patience is key; taking the time to build a solid foundation will pave the way for success when moving on to more advanced techniques.

Fear of Water

Overcoming fear is a significant hurdle for many new swimmers. Whether it’s the fear of putting their face in the water or general anxiety about drowning, these fears can result in tense muscles, making it challenging to float and move through the water comfortably.

Avoidance Tip: To address this common issue, it is advisable to choose a swim instructor experienced in working with beginners and addressing water phobias. Gradual exposure to water and setting small, achievable goals can help build confidence and gradually overcome fear.

Incorrect Body Position

body position during swimming

Maintaining the correct body position is essential for efficient swimming. Some beginners struggle to keep their bodies flat and horizontal in the water, leading to increased resistance and slower progress.

Avoidance Tip: Practicing floating on both your back and stomach is crucial for developing a sense of body position. Additionally, focusing on engaging core muscles and maintaining a streamlined body position while swimming will contribute to improved efficiency in the water.

Holding the Breath

Holding one’s breath while swimming is a mistake that many beginners make, resulting in fatigue and discomfort. Proper breathing is essential for stamina and relaxation in the water.

Avoidance Tip: Learning rhythmic breathing techniques is key to overcoming this challenge. Exhaling steadily while your face is in the water and inhaling quickly when turning your head to breathe can help maintain a consistent breathing pattern. Regular breathing drills can also enhance lung capacity and overall endurance.

Ignoring Water Safety

Amid the excitement of learning to swim, some individuals overlook the critical aspect of water safety. Understanding basic water rescue skills and being aware of your surroundings can prevent accidents and ensure a safer swimming experience.

Avoidance Tip: Enrolling in a swimming program that includes water safety education is essential. Additionally, always swim in designated areas with lifeguards, and never underestimate the power of currents in open water. Developing a keen awareness of water safety is crucial for a fulfilling and risk-free swimming experience.

Inconsistency in Practice

Like any skill, regular practice is key to improvement in swimming. Some beginners make the mistake of attending sporadic lessons or practising inconsistently, hindering their progress.

Avoidance Tip: Setting a realistic practice schedule and adhering to it is vital. Consistent, frequent practice allows the body to adapt to the water and reinforces the skills learned during lessons. A dedicated approach to practice is essential for steady improvement in swimming abilities.

Overlooking Warm-Up and Cool-Down

warm-up before swimming

Proper warm-up and cool-down are often overlooked aspects of swimming. Just like any other physical activity, these routines are crucial for preventing injuries. Neglecting them can lead to muscle strain and discomfort.

Avoidance Tip: Incorporating dynamic stretches and light swimming drills into your warm-up routine is beneficial. After completing a swim, cooling down with gentle stretches contributes to enhanced flexibility and reduces the risk of muscle soreness. Prioritising these aspects of your swimming routine is essential for overall well-being and sustained progress.


In conclusion, mastering the art of swimming is a transformative experience that opens up a world of aquatic possibilities for individuals across New Zealand. By acknowledging and steering clear of the common mistakes discussed in this article, aspiring swimmers can accelerate their progress and foster a deeper connection with the water.

It’s essential to view each swimming lesson not merely as a step towards proficiency but as an opportunity to refine and perfect the fundamental skills that lay the foundation for advanced techniques.

As Kiwis continue to embrace the beauty of their coastal landscapes and inland water bodies, the importance of swimming proficiency cannot be overstated. The commitment to patient, and consistent practice, combined with a thorough understanding of water safety, ensures a holistic approach to becoming a skilled and confident swimmer. Remember, the journey to mastering swimming is as much about the process as it is about the destination.

So, as you embark on your swimming journey, let the mistakes outlined in this article serve as guideposts rather than stumbling blocks. Embrace the learning process, celebrate small victories, and revel in the joy of navigating New Zealand’s aquatic wonders.

With the right mindset, dedication, and a commitment to continuous improvement, you’ll find yourself gliding through the water with newfound grace and confidence, truly savouring the essence of the Kiwi swimming experience.