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A person's age or previous lack of experience or success in water should never be a reason for any adult to think that it's too late for them to overcome their fear of water and become a swimmer. Since our life expectancy continues to expand, adults are looking for ways to improve their overall health with the least amount of physical stress on their bodies. The water provides this opportunity and a multitude of aquatic activities to help accomplish those goals.This may help to explain why more and more adults, between the ages of fifty and ninety, are enrolling in the SOAP Program and realizing a life long dream of enjoying the water for fitness and recreation.

"Thinking is contagious. If you are able to accomplish today what you believed was impossible  yesterday,  just imagine what you will be able to think is possible tomorrow."   Jeff Krieger, M.S.

"I am writing to you a changed person who hardly even recognizes herself! Just a few short months ago, I was afraid of the water and could not swim. I would go in to a pool as long as my feet could touch the ground or I was on a floating lounger. The ocean, well, basically would only go in up to my knees. This was especially sad, considering I grew up just 3 homes distance away from the beach in Queens, NY!! At 46 years old, faced with the fact that my 4 year old daughter is an avid swimmer, and the fact that we just moved to a home with a pool, I realized it was just irresponsible of me to indulge my fear any longer. I had been looking for an adult swim class, and even went so far as to speak to an instructor at a local pool, but got the distinct feeling that his teaching style would just inspire more fear and did not enroll.

Coincidentally, I brought my daughter to a birthday party held at the Saw Mill Club. While she was enjoying the activities at the party, I was out in the hall with the parents and your flyer on the bulletin board caught my eye. "S.O.A.P. " Strategies for Overcoming Aquatic Phobias!" A swimming class for adults taught by an "aquatic therapist!" I contacted you, and we made our plans to meet at the pool. I still can't believe I got into my car and drove over there. Remember how frightened I was when we met for the first time? By the end of the first lesson, you had taught me how to breathe under water, got me to wear goggles so I could see under water, and had me gliding on the surface on my own!!!! I was so overwhelmed by that I couldn't contain my emotions and broke out crying! I did it!!! And it was fun!

I never dreaded coming back again. In fact, I looked forward to it each week. I was amazed at how fast I went from being afraid to really enjoying being in a pool and learning something new each week. When you had me jump in to a 9 foot pool, well, I just couldn't believe I did it.

I am now a swimmer. I really can swim! I swam all summer with my daughter and it was the most fun! I even went into the ocean on vacation and was jumping waves with my family! We will have years of fun memories together in the future, and it's all because I happened to glance at a flyer on a bulletin board while attending a child's birthday party! Who'd have thought?

Thank you, Jeff!! (It seems so inadequate, those little words!)

Shari F.W. Ruckh

Perhaps, more importantly, adults, specifically parents, grandparents, caregivers and generally concerned citizens remain at risk for serious injury or drowning and in most cases are unable to assist someone who is drowning, because of their fear of water and lack of "Aquatic IQ".

Although the stories and backgrounds of many adult SOAP clients may seem very similar, a few help paint a profound picture of the very special journey that they took as SOAP participants. There has been nothing that has served as a more powerful example of aqua phobia as the retired Marine Officer who shared with me and the other members of his SOAP group, that although he served in both military conflicts in Korea and Vietnam, which clearly required tremendous courage, as well as physical and emotional strength, nothing during those moments on the battlefield terrified him more than the thought of being in water over his head. The smile on his face as he jumped off the one meter board into thirteen feet of water and then resurfaced and swam to the

 side of the pool after completing his SOAP Program was perhaps even more powerful and profound.


Each adult who particpates in the SOAP Program is first offered an "Aquanalysis" where their aquatic history is discussed prior to getting into the pool, if in fact they are prepared to do so, and their physical skills are assessed in the shallow end of the pool. Please note that adults can demonstrate a very wide range of anxiety and fear surrounding water and usually share a similar background with others within these three groups:

There are those whose fear is the result of experiencing a traumatic experience in water. Unfortunately, many people who come into the program recall terrifying experiences, where often well meaning instructors, friends or family members pushed them into deep water expecting them to know how to swim. Others speak of fitness classes in high school or college, or swim lessons as a child, where similar sink or swim strategies were applied. These types of tactics are NEVER EVER used at any time during this program.

However, there has been nothing that helps define the hope that the SOAP Program offers as the story of my oldest client to date, who at age ninety-one, had never been in water over her head. As a result of the skills, support and encouragement she received during her SOAP Sessions, she was finally able to swim the entire length of a twenty-five meter long pool, finishing the swim in ten feet of water with a huge ear to ear smile on not only her face, but that of her ninety year-three year old husband who watched nervously from the side of the pool and could not believe what he had just witnessed.

Furthermore there has been no better example of the importance of a program such as SOAP, than the story of a young mother of two young children who had never learned to swim because of her fear of water. Her

bigger fear now was to not be able to protect her children in and around water and not enjoy special family moments in the water because of her aqua phobia. Watching her overcome her fear and develop the confidence to help the other members of her SOAP group convinced me that she had put her fear of water behind her and was ready to join the aquatic community.

The second and largest group includes those who have absolutely no idea why they fear water. There is no denying that their fear is exaggerated and that they lack the skills to cope with that fear in that moment, however, those feelings and the consequences of those feelings are painfully real. For additional information on how and why, you'll need to particpate in the program!!

The third category of individuals includes those whose fear is the result of complete lack of exposure to water, other than bathing and drinking, due to health or financial issues or a matter of geographic location. As the years go by, the more their fear of the unknown grows and the fear of the fear, rather than fear of water, dominates that scene.

That being said, no matter when, where and why the fear started, the most important part of the process in helping clients to overcome their fears will always

remain the emotional support that the client receives both in and out of the water thoughout this process. This special rapport between instructor and client includes a healthy dose of empathy, the use of relaxation, behavioral modification and desensitization techniques, as well as other therapeutic skills . SOAP clients are encouraged to share their experiences, feelings and expectations in discussions held prior to, during and after every session in the water. As the client(s) increases their Aquatic IQ, comfort zone and skill sets, they increase the amount of time that they spend in the water and the depth of the water they work in.

Just remember, it's never too late to get started and no matter how difficult you feel the challenge might be, the SOAP Program will help you succeed and definitely change your life, personally and professionally!!!


Helping people overcome their aquatics anxieties, fears and phobias for over 30 years.

(727) 741-3088