Click here to find out more about Aquaphobia.

Millions of frustrated Aquaphobics are being given the chance to take back control of their lives and overcome their fear of the water with the launch of a pioneering new course.

The UK Academy of Swimming and drowning prevention charity The Royal Life Saving Society UK (RLSS UK) have joined forces to launch the specialised Adult Aquaphobia Learning Programme (AALP), which aims to give people confidence and control in the water.

Over 13.8 million adults in the UK, that’s double the population of London, are afraid to take part in any form of swimming, and over 33% of the adult population saying they know at least one person who has a real fear of the water.

Written and created by UK Academy of Swimming and supported by the RLSS UK, AALP is a 12-step progressive programme delivered by swimming professionals to help people who are aquaphobic, weak or non-swimmers to overcome their fear of water from both a psychological and physical perspective, and in so doing break down barriers to participation.

Distinctive from swimming programmes, AALP focuses on eliminating and desensitising fear, not on the physical mechanics of swimming.

Davinah Jade, 37 from Enfield had a traumatic experience at a swimming pool when she was just seven years old which caused an overwhelming, irrational fear of water.

“I was pushed into a pool when we went swimming at school. I’d never actually been in the water in a swimming pool before so it was my first experience. I just came around on the side with someone helping me to get the water out of my lungs. I never went back in the pool.”

Unable to even drive over a body of water without panicking, Davinah’s fear was affecting her life and she worried it was having a negative impact on her family.

Having found swimming lessons ineffective because they didn’t tackle the root of the problem, Davinah undertook the AALP course and said it changed her life: “I’m no longer scared of the water. I recently went on holiday and was at the beach in the water when beforehand I couldn’t even be close to water in such a large capacity. Best of all, I’m moving my career towards my dream job as an air hostess which is something I would never have ever dreamed of doing in the past because of the water aspect of the job.

“Being comfortable in the water has given me a sense of freedom and means that I’m no longer restricted to what I can or can’t do.  It has given me such a sense of accomplishment because it’s the biggest fear that I have ever had.”

Recent research carried out by RLSS UK and UK Academy of Swimming revealed that:

  • Over 14% of the adult population has a fear of the water
  • A staggering 33% knew at least one person with a phobia of water.
  • One in four adults are afraid to take part in any form of swimming
  • Over 7% are even afraid of having a bath.

Master Coach Mike Burman, Creator of the AALP said: “Aquaphobia can have a very real impact on a person's quality of life, sometimes cripplingly so. They miss out on opportunities, experiences, time with their families, and it can leave a person feeling alone, embarrassed, or frightened.

“Our aim is to give people the skills they need to feel composed in the presence of fear: to calm the mind and body. The course teaches a person how to relax, float, feel happy and in control in the water and reduce all stresses in a safe and careful way.”

Martin Symcox, RLSS UK director, said the organisation had jumped at the chance of working with the UK Academy of Swimming to develop and disseminate the AALP as there was a clear need for a specialised course of its kind.

“In order to swim correctly, there is a necessity to completely relax in the water. Clearly to someone who is scared or even petrified of water that can be very difficult.

“AALP is fundamentally different to swimming courses. Each course is tailored to the individual’s degree of phobia and own personal needs and moves at a pace set by the individual so they feel uplifted, encouraged and comfortable to undertake them on a regular basis. Only when they are happy they have overcome a step do they move to next step and there is no set timescale with courses lasting anything from 3 weeks to six months.”

Click here to find out more about Aquaphobia.