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Don’t hold back because of the fear of water

Overcoming a fear of water is something I have researched for years. There is only one solution: confront your fear. But how should you go about it? Read on to find out.

health and fitness Updated: Oct 12, 2009 19:37 IST
Yana Bey

I’m terrified of water and fascinated by it as well. Are there ‘safe’ water sports I can try to get over my fear? I can’t swim.
Anchal Bahuguna

Overcoming a fear of water is something I have researched for years. There is only one solution: confront your fear. But how should you go about it?

First things first, learn swimming. This achieves two objectives — it makes you face the water and lessens your fear by making you self-sufficient. Swimming lessons also start with steps to help you get rid of your fear. The instructor will show you how to hold your breath and make you sit on the floor of the pool in shallow water with your eyes open. This will teach you to float by relaxing the muscles. But because you’re afraid, your muscles will take longer to relax, and you might take longer to float.

After you’ve learned to swim, you’ll feel less scared of the water. Swim from the shallow end to the deep end of the pool and swim back. Do lots of pool activity like swimming underwater in the shallow end and playing games where you have to move toys on the pool floor and swim through hoops. These are designed to increase comfort in the water. If you persevere, your fear will end.

If you decide that you don’t want to learn how to swim, the another method for learning to cope with a fear of water is to take a psychiatrist’s help. He will expose you to your fear without your having to enter water. There are many water sports that non-swimmers can do like water skiing, snorkelling, rafting, sea kayaking, rowing and canyoning. You can also do kayaking and canoeing in still water, though I suggest you avoid white water.

Just make sure that you’re always wearing a lifejacket that fits you and insist on having safety personnel around. Your lifejacket should fit you snugly and should not slip past your head and arms if someone grabs the back and tries to haul you up.

What’s the difference between kites and gliders, and paragliding, parasailing and kitesurfing? Where can I try these sports?
KShitij Sahni

Kites are used with control devices attached to the harness. Paragliders control their canopies with lines held in the hands. Also, kites pull you along, while paragliders lift you. Hence design and technique differ.Paragliding is done on land and kitesurfing on water (and snow, but not yet in India). Paragliding is done on hilly terrain where you can take off from a higher point and catch air currents. In parasailing, you are pulled along by a motorised vehicle on land or water so that the canopy fills with air and soars. Kitesurfing uses wind as the source of power.

Paragliding is done at an advanced level in Kamshet, Maharashtra (www.flynirvana.com), Bir-Billing (www.himalaya-paragliding.com) and Solang(Meher Chand Thakur: 09816544738) in Himachal Pradesh.

Kitesurfing is still in its infancy; some Goa operators offer it. Parasailing is widely done on land in India and also on beaches using water scooters. Boat parasailing is not yet available.