Karlie’s Adult Swimming Journey


BaySwim would love to get you in the water ready for summer like me! Mention this blog post when enquiring about Adult Swim Lessons and your first lesson will be free so you can give it a go!

Contact Rebecca to take up this offer
Email: Rebecca.collins@bayvenues.co.nz
Phone: 07 577 8550 ext 8914

Sink or Swim – Week 1

I’m here to tell you that in my experience, swimming is NOT like riding a bike. You can’t just jump in after almost 20 years and swim laps like an Olympic gold medalist. And let’s be honest, looking in the mirror, I didn’t look like one either in my not-so-flattering one piece.

Who am I? I’m Karlie, a 28-year-old, who isn’t the best in the water. In 2019, on holiday in Bali I was caught in a rip, this scared me and shook my water confidence. I realised that I was not a strong swimmer. With the summer season fast approaching I wanted to be confident in the water, improve my swimming ability and incorporate swimming in my weekly exercise. So, I signed up to BaySwim’s Adult Swimming Lessons at Baywave.

Arriving at the pool, I felt a mixture of excitement and nerves. Don’t get me wrong, I can keep myself afloat, but I lack technique, stamina and can’t for the life of me figure out how to swim freestyle and breathe at the same time! The BaySwim team immediately put me at ease and had me excited to jump in the pool.

So, what did I learn in my first lesson? I learnt that kicking comes from the hips, not the knees and feet – that was a revelation. I simply needed to kick in a relaxed manner from the hips, with a slight knee bend (not the log-like type of kicking I seemed to be doing) at a rate that I was comfortable with. Vesna, our instructor, was informative and encouraging. I could immediately tell that I was quite stiff and fought against the water. I know it sounds cliché, but I need to learn to ‘become one with the water’.

I am excited to gain confidence, technique and stamina. Swimming lessons are not just for children; it is incredible how much you can forget after years out of the pool. If you want to get back into swimming, build confidence, work on your technique or be safer in the water, follow my BaySwim Adult Swimming Lesson journey weekly. See you in the pool!

Sink or Swim – Week 2

This week was all about developing our kicking and breathing skills. It is amazing how much you can cover in a 30-minute class.

We spent a lot of the lesson doing backstroke drills with and without a kickboard and practising our arm circles. I didn’t quite master swimming in a straight line and kept bumping into the side rope or the other swimmers – whoops!

Next, we were shown how to turn and breathe when swimming freestyle – first with a kickboard for a few laps and then without. I actually found it easier without the kickboard. Our instructor Vesna was great at really explaining and demonstrating the movement and then correcting us as we tried them out.

So, what were the main things I learnt in this class? Similar to the first class; I was told that I was fighting against the water and needed to spend some time getting comfortable with my head in the water (I hate water in my ears, but the swimming cap helps!)

I also found that my hips were sinking, and I needed to work on keeping myself afloat and streamlined like a graceful dolphin instead of dragging myself through the water like a beluga whale.

We have been encouraged to practice outside of our lessons and all BaySwim memberships receive free pool entry for the term, so I will be back on the weekend to practice!

Sink or Swim – Week 3

I was naughty this week – I missed my normal swimming lesson! But luckily the team at BaySwim came to my rescue with a make-up lesson so I didn’t fall behind! If you aren’t able to make it to a lesson, each participant can utilise one make-up lesson per term.

I attended another beginner class with a different instructor. This class had a mix of skill levels, genders and ages – from someone who was learning the basics of swimming to others who were trying to build on their skills and strokes like me.

The instructor was able to tailor the drills and lesson to the skills in the class meaning that everyone was catered for – by everyone, I meant the 5 of us.

In this class we practiced our kicking from the hips – think awkward dad “dancing” hip wiggle but in the water, freestyle breathing with the kickboard and backstroke (I still can’t do backstroke in a straight line!).

I also went to Baywave on the weekend and managed to squeeze out a couple of laps of freestyle! Really stoked with that but I definitely need to work on my fitness!

Sink or Swim – Week 4

This week was very similar to previous weeks but with one exciting surprise at the end! In this class, we focussed on our freestyle without the board which is something I could not do before starting these lessons.

The biggest thing I didn’t understand about swimming was how to breathe when swimming freestyle! Exercising is harder when you are puffed and can’t breathe when you want, like normal exercise. The one thing I do remember from childhood swim lessons is blowing nose bubbles….This still applies so you don’t accidently breathe water in!

I’ve been told that swimming fitness is completely different from regular fitness ‒ and they aren’t wrong! But your swimming fitness builds and I can now swim a few laps without a break! It just takes PRACTICE.

The most exciting part of this lesson was that I have MOVED UP A LEVEL (cue fireworks and celebrations). From next week I will be moving to a new class to build on my technique and start learning some breast-stroke to add into the mix – and this only took 4 lessons! This will be different for everyone but you can’t progress if you don’t start.

80% of success is just showing up – I think I saw that somewhere on the internet so it must be true. So, the big question is…what are you waiting for? Come and join me!

Sink or Swim – Week 5 

Well, today was the day! Today was my first lesson in the Improver class. This class has a focus on technique and building on the foundations I learnt in the beginner classes. There were two other ladies in this class with me and I was excited that my instructor was still Vesna!

We did a few drills of freestyle without the board focusing on our breathing and finding the right breathing pattern for our strokes and then moved on to learning breast-stroke kicking with and without the board. Breast-stroke is the one stroke where your arms and legs alternate!

I found the kicking tricky. Due to an old injury, my right hip wouldn’t rotate as easily so I was a bit slower than the rest of the class – but that was totally okay! Everyone takes the classes at their own pace. If you have injuries the instructors modify the drills for you!

One thing I love about my adult swimming classes is that we are all in it together. It makes you realise that you’re not the only one that struggles to swim a full lap or coordinate your arms and legs at the same time. It is a friendly and supportive experience with the same classmates every week.

Sink or Swim – Week 6

This week I had the class all to myself! I arrived all ready for my class to find that I had the sole attention of our instructor. I was stoked… little did I know this would probably be one of the harder classes I do.

We spent the whole class focusing on freestyle and backstroke technique. It is much harder when you are by yourself as you don’t have as much time to rest in between drills as you would with a larger group.

Swimming is a lot like patting your head and rubbing your tummy at the same time. Coordination is needed to kick your legs, move your arms in a certain way and remember to breathe at the same time and it can take a while to really nail it!

I still haven’t nailed it, when I am busy focussing on my legs and my arms I start to count and in return, I forget to breathe. It’s like my brain can’t handle three things at once – and breathing is probably the more crucial of the three!

So, my biggest takeaway from this lesson – don’t forget to BREATHE!

Sink or Swim – Week 8 

OOPS…. I missed last week! Life just got so busy as It does, but this week I was back in the pool ready to perfect my swimming strokes!

This week was like the many others completing swimming drills and practicing swimming strokes so I thought I would give you my 5 tips to help you take the plunge into Adult Swimming Lessons – I wish someone had have given me these tips earlier!

  1. No-one is judging you!

Everyone is on their own swimming journey! There may be a range of skill levels in the class but you are all there for one outcome – to learn how to swim! No-one will be watching you (except your teacher to help you) as they are so busy working on their own skills!

  1. Be consistent

The toughest part for me is getting myself to the pool and into the water after a long, busy day at work – that little voice kicks in and tells me that I’m too tired, or I have too much to do (hence my absence last week 😬. But I feel so much better after my lesson knowing that I hopped in my unflattering togs, gave my lungs a wee workout and got one step closer to being Lauren Boyle!

  1. Practice

To see change, you need to take action! That means heading to the pool to practice your strokes on the weekend or after work! Most pools will have at least two public lanes available at all times for casual swimmers – Just make sure you check their website for lane availability and any events happening.

  1. Have patience

You are not going to turn from a flailing sea-lion to a graceful dolphin overnight… you may even need more than one term of swimming lessons.  All good things take hard work so remember to celebrate your little victories along the way! My workmates heard about every accomplishment I had because I was EXCITED!

  1. Have the right gear!

That little bikini is not going to do you any favours if you have a mishap whilst doing backstroke! Make sure you have a good fitting swimsuit or lightweight board shorts, a good set of goggles and a swimming cap if you live the long luscious hair life! You can purchase all of the above from the reception at Baywave, Mount Hot Pools and Greerton Aquatic & Leisure Centre.

I promise you that learning to swim as an adult is not embarrassing, or scary and no-one is judging you – it is hard work, it is rewarding but most of all it is actually FUN and a bloody good workout!

Sink or Swim – Week 9

I can’t believe there is only one week left of this term, and two weeks until Christmas!

This week we worked on all three swimming strokes (backstroke, freestyle and breaststroke) with drills to focus on our breathing, kicking and our arm circles. I think I have graduated from swimming like a beluga whale to possibly a turtle – slow but a little more controlled.

We were assessed by Vesna and learnt what level to enrol in next term. Enrolments are now open to everyone! I will be enrolling in the Adult Technique class next year. One day I will swim as gracefully as the majestic dolphin!

Not only is my fitness improving, but I have also noticed a dramatic difference in my chronic pain from a previous back injury, which has been AMAZING! I also feel more confident in the water and am ready to tackle a beach filled summer in the sunny Bay of Plenty!

If you sign up to Term 1 Swimming Lessons before Christmas you will go into the draw to win a $400 Prezzy Card! How good is that?

Classes fill up quickly, so if you would like to give swimming a try, contact the friendly BaySwim team. I hope I have convinced you to start your swimming journey next year!

Sink or Swim – Week 10 

This was my last week of swimming lessons! I’ve completed 10 weeks of lessons and in that time have moved up two levels – I’ve never committed to something so consistently in my life… ask my poor gym membership.

I’ve had a great time with the BaySwim team and appreciate the support I received from Vesna this term – she’s a real gem!

If you have been following along with my journey, I hope I have encouraged you to give lessons a go! It’s never too late – you just need to commit and make the time. A term of lessons is just 5 hours of swimming in 10 weeks.

I started classes as I was scared of the water after being caught in a rip – I am yet to test out my new swimming skills in the ocean but my water confidence has dramatically improved. I now have the ability to get myself out of trouble if that were to happen again.

I’m still no majestic dolphin… which is why I will be enrolling in Term 1 lessons to build on my fitness and technique.

If you can’t commit to a term of lessons, or are time poor and really can’t squeeze half an hour of swimming into your week, why not try out a School Holiday Swimming Lesson? They are 15 minutes, one to one classes designed to fast track your swimming! You may love it and book in for Term 1 anyway.

And don’t forget, if you book in for Term 1 before Christmas you could win a $400 Prezzy Card.

This is me signing off – I hope I’ll see you at the pool or in my class in Term 1, 2021!