Change is hard. Fear makes change even harder. A study performed by Gallup (n=815) and presented at the 2008 World Aquatic Health™ Conference by Melon Dash indicates that 64% of Americans are afraid in deep, open water (lakes, rivers, ocean,…). Forty six percent are afraid in deep water in pools. Even 39% are afraid to put their heads under water.
I was talking to Melon Dash a couple years ago and she said something that has been embedded in my mind ever since. Melon leads the Miracle Swimming Institute that focuses on training swim instructors to help fearful adults become swimmers. She said something like, “When you think you are going to die, you are not thinking about proper stroke technique.” When my kids were in swim classes, a lot of the focus was on strokes. Overcoming change is already a substantial barrier for most people. Overcoming fear is an even greater obstacle.
It seems reasonable to surmise that if an individual is afraid of a specific environment, it is less likely that they would advocate participating in activities in that environment or purchasing a swimming pool. If that individual has influence on purchasing decisions in the family, it is reasonable to conclude that over half of American households may oppose the idea of engaging in aquatic activities or investing in a pool or hot tub. Donate to swim programs that help the fearful like the Miracle Swimming Institute or S.O.A.P. (Strategies for Overcoming Aquatic Phobias). Or, donate to the Step Into Swim™ Campaign that will raise money for programs like these and other learn-to-swim programs.
Come learn about these programs at the 2012 World Aquatic Health Conference in Norfolk, VA on October 10-12. Getting more people in the water benefits everyone!