Monday, August 1, 2016

Swim Social: Vivienne Masters “You would be shocked by the number of adults who can’t swim"

We recently caught up with novice swimmer Lorraine Hepburn to find out more about her blog ‘I’m Going To Swim Before 40’. What comes across from Lorraine, besides her enthusiasm, is the relationship she has with her swimming instructor. Vivienne Masters runs her own swimming school, called Swimming Masters.  Before we get too confused, that’s a good play on words with her surname rather than anything to do with the discipline that is Masters Swimming!  We caught up with her to find out more.

Vivienne says, “You would be shocked by the number of adults who can’t swim.  It makes no sense here in Scotland when we’re surrounded by water! No matter what age you are, you can overcome a fear of water and you can take to swimming.”

That fear of water is something many non-swimmers will recognise.  Vivienne says there are many trigger points and recognising them is one of the first steps to overcoming the fear.  She says, “For many people the fear of swimming starts before they even get to the pool side. They might not like the smell of chlorine or the sight of the changing rooms.  In the pool, I’ve known lots of people who simply don’t like the feel of the water on their skin”.

Vivienne says, “I try to first find out just how deep rooted is their fear of water.  Do they take showers?  Do they take baths?  You’d be surprised at the number of people whose fear of water extends to simply running a bath.  You try to find out if there was something in their past that made them fear water.  I can’t force somebody to do something they’re uncomfortable with – I can only help them realise what is happening to them when they think about getting into the water.  They seek out help, the help doesn’t go looking for them.  They need to realise for themselves why they are there in the first place and I think the sheer determination, and the motivation of what could be, really gets people moving.”

Vivienne is also pretty honest about the commitment needed to overcome a fear of swimming.  She says, “I can’t wave a magic wand – you’ve got to overcome the fear and then learn to swim.  Even if you’re not afraid of the water, learning to swim takes time.  I’ve had people who think ‘I am going on holiday in a couple of weeks and I need to be ready to swim’; it doesn’t work like that. We overcome fear, build confidence, learn techniques and then improve technique.”

So if you’d like to learn to swim ahead of your 2017 summer holiday, now might be the time to start thinking about lessons. 

One to one lessons differ from group lessons in that they progress at the speed that works for you rather than finding a happy medium that works for a group of people. 

Vivienne says it’s a very rewarding process. She says, ‘it’s great to see the look on their faces as people progress. I had an man in his 40s whose son couldn’t understand why his Dad couldn’t swim. The man was completely embarrassed because he couldn’t swim. But when he came for lessons he took to it really quickly. His face just lit up and he couldn’t believe he had managed to learn to swim. He can now go and swim with his son, which was going to make a massive difference to his life.’

You’re never too old to learn to swim. Vivienne says ‘I teach all different ages and it might take a little bit longer to learn if you’ve been out of the water for many years, but once they go through the processes they realise it’s not that scary and it’s not that hard. It’s just a process and it takes time and practice. Most people realise very quickly swimming should be enjoyable”. 

For more information about one to one lessons you can get in touch with Vivienne at

(Vivienne was speaking to Anne Kane)

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