Enjoy swimmingI often get asked how long it will take to learn front crawl and how many lessons someone will need.

This is a tricky question to answer and in this blog I’m going to talk about some of the things that make it easier or harder to learn and give you some tips on how you can help yourself.

Everyone is different

I do often say it’s a bit like learning to drive a car and everyone is very different.

Some people pass first time after 10 lessons while some people pass on their 5th test after several years of lessons. It’s the same with learning anything, and swimming is no different – it’s very individual.

Talent is grown

The good news is that Total Immersion coaches believe that talent is grown and not born. And this means that swimming is a skill that anyone can learn. With patience and a focused approach to how you practice anything is possible.

Things that will affect how long it will take are

Your starting point

If you are already comfortable and confident in water and can swim breast stroke reasonably well you’ll probably pick it up quicker than someone who has some anxiety, tension and fear in the water.

How long have you been swimming?

If you learned to swim as a child then you’ve got years of muscle memory of being happy and comfortable in the water. If you only recently learned to swim at all as an adult then your human body and brain has less memory of what it’s like to be in water.

Your history with water

If you have any history of bad experiences of swimming lessons or water from childhood, or an accident or something that happened to yourself or someone close to you then you will also have these experiences both in your and body to work with.

Movement Literacy

How co-ordinated you are on land and how aware you are of your body and how it moves will affect how easy it is for you to pick up movements in water. If for example the only sport you’ve ever done is running for a long time in a straight line and you know you struggle to co-ordinate yourself it might take you longer than someone who spent their life dancing or doing martial arts.

Posture and Mobility

If you are not very flexible and mobile then your body will find it harder to get into some positions than someone who has more mobility. It’s still possible to be an efficient swimmer but it might be harder to feel some of the movements. For example  people who are stiff in the hips and ankles often find it takes longer to learn a flutter kick from the hip. And this is definitely something that I struggle with.

How often do you swim?

If you only swim once a week then it will take you longer to progress than someone who swims five times a week. Don’t forget it’s not in human DNA to be in water so the more time we spend out of it the more likely our body and brain will forget the skills we’re working on.

How well do you practice?

How well you practice and how focussed you are will also affect your progress. If you never practice the drills then your progress will be slower than someone who practices drills every day.

How focussed is your practice?

If you have good concentrate and focus while you practice you’ll learn faster than if you’re distracted easily and your mind wonders. The first step is to actually practice some drills but you also need to concentrate and focus while you’re doing those swimming drills. These are the principles of deliberate practice.

Your Goals

How long it takes you to learn depends on what your goals are and your definition of swimming front crawl. If your goal is to swim an Ironman distance in a set time then it might take you longer than someone who is happy to swim a few lengths before getting their breath back.

Life Long Learning

Personally I like to think of swimming as a life long skill. Which means there’s still things I can learn and improve. There’s still opportunities for me to be a faster and more efficient swimmer. But also my swimming has many ups and downs which keeps me still learning. Injury over the last few years has meant I’ve had to re-visit my stroke many times.

The exciting thing is that I believe swimming is a skill that anyone can learn with the right attitude and quality practice. Your age, history, fitness, strength or flexibility has much less impact on your swimming than learning efficient skills and focused practice.

If you’re interested in learning then you can book a 30min taster session or dive right into a detailed assessment and initial lesson. You can make a booking here or if you have lots of questions then get in touch and book a FREE 15min Lets chat here

More Tips

I’m Penny and I have a passion for swimming and anything water related. I’m a Total Immersion swimming teacher and I help people more comfortable in the water so they discover the joy of swimming or finish a triathlon without feeling exhausted.