Aquaphobia, commonly known as “water-phobia” or “water-fear”, is a specific type of fear where you will find yourself experiencing an excessive amount of panic and anxiety when going close to a pool of water. Specifically, having water coming in contact with facial regions such as submerging the head under water in a bath or swimming pool.

What Causes Aquaphobia?

In this article, we explore what are the sensitive areas of our facial region that could trigger and cause such anxiety. We will also dive in to explore what are the best recommendations for aquaphobic learners to help overcome their fear of being in the water.

1. Eyes

Opening our eyes in the water can be one of the biggest challenges when it comes to aquaphobia. This is because when the water enters the eyes, the initial stinging sensation can cause discomfort to the learner. However, the irritation is only temporary and will go away once the learner is acclimatised to opening their eyes in the water. The blurry vision underwater will also cause some level of panic as the learner may not be able to clearly see where they are.

It is an undeniable fact that our eyes are the most delicate organ on our facial region. Even having optical eye drops touching our eyes can cause our involuntary reflex to trigger causing us to blink. Although these reflexes serve to protect our eyes from foreign objects entering, we can however, condition them to relax under certain conditions, such as being underwater with proper training.

2. Ears

Getting water in the ears is can create a great level of discomfort. Many learners find this as one of the most challenging obstacles to overcome. Reactions range from an irrational anxiety that the water entering the ears will cause them to fill up, to an exaggerated worry about water remaining trapped inside the ears. In fact, coming from a biological perspective, the complex design inside the human ear effectively prevents water entering more sensitive regions, mainly the eardrums. Occasionally, water can be trapped by ear wax in the outer canals of the ear, causing some level of discomfort. However, the water will naturally exit the ear canal after some time. If the water is allowed to remain there for an extended period, it may cause bacterial infection, but the chances of it happening is fairly small.

3. Nose And Mouth

Fears of putting the nose and mouth in the water are usually related to the fears of not being able to breathe. The ability to breathe on land comes naturally to us. However, when it comes to being in the water, without proper controlled breathing techniques, our involuntary reflexes may take over. The physiological mechanism of the mouth acts as an effective barrier to prevent water from getting into our lungs. Thus, we will need to familiarize ourselves in the controlled breathing techniques so that unnecessary fears do not overwhelm us, allowing our involuntary reflexes to kick in.

How To Overcome Aquaphobia?

When you have identified that aquaphobia is one of the reasons that you are not getting into the pool. The recommended solution will be to engage a professional swim instructor to help overcome this fear. It is better to engage a professional as the instructor will be able to access your ability, and propose a step-by-step guide to help to tackle the challenges. If you were to attempt certain activities in overcoming aquaphobia through ‘self-taught” YouTube videos, chances are that you might be applying the wrong techniques and end up fearing the water more. As video guides are usually meant to target the majority, not all methods will work as every learner has a different learning ability. Thus, engaging a professional for private swimming lessons would be highly recommended as the lesson plan will be specially designed to help you achieve your intended goals of overcoming aquaphobia.

At Aquatics In Motion, we provide tailored private swimming lessons to meet the needs of individual learners. Regardless of age, we are able to cater lessons from young to old. Depending on the situation, the swim instructor will advice the use of various swim aids such as goggles or noodle floats to make the learning outcome more easily achievable.

Justin Tay