How Running Helped Me Conquer My Fear of Swimming


If there was one thing, that even just the thought of, scared the hell out of me — it was having my body immersed in deep water. My aquaphobia or fear of water goes to the extent of being terrified just by simply being near a swimming pool.

I am not a swimmer, I never learned swimming as a child.

Just picturing myself in a situation where my head is fully immersed in water kickstarts multiple scenarios in my head where I’m struggling to breathe, being consumed by panic, drowning, and eventually accepting the fate of having no choice but to die.

To share a bit of history, it’s a phobia I believe I have inherited from my parents as both of them are afraid of deep water. Growing up, I have always seen bodies of water as synonymous to death so I’ve always done my best to avoid open water and even swimming pools.

You can imagine why I never enjoyed summer trips. I never got why people say they need a dose of “vitamin sea”. I never experienced wearing swimsuits and I never even yearned and dreamed of white sand under my feet.

However, last year, I fell in love with running and to my surprise as well, this sport started my journey towards conquering my aquaphobia.

I felt so amazed with the endurance I was able to build through consistently training – from not being able to run 1km straight to finishing half marathon (21km). These small accomplishments restored my faith in my body’s strength and ability to adapt to an activity foreign to it.

And as my experience in running went farther and farther, I realized I wanted to level it up by venturing into triathlon sometime in the future. So I told myself, “if I was able to train my mind and body to run from 0km to 21km, what makes learning how to swim impossible?”


That’s when I decided to enroll in basic swimming lessons offered by a swim school called Swim Central. I knew swimming is gonna be a lot harder, but I was mentally prepared for it. But… it’s easier said than done, as expected.

I remembered my first session with my swim coach – it was the hardest. I could not let go of the hand rails of the pool. I did not even know how to float in water (I was panicking big time!) but my coach was persevering enough to believe in me from the first up to the last session. I finished 5 private sessions of basic swimming where I learned the basics of breaststroke and freestyle, and though I would say I’m still not a good swimmer after those, being able to conquer the fear was already more than enough for me.

Months later, I learned that our swim school also offers survival swimming lessons wherein students jump into 14-20 ft pool to practice their treading skills — now that’s the real deal and I wanted to challenge myself if I’d be able to conquer my biggest fear in life so I took the lesson.

After the lesson, I felt like I am already ready to experience the ocean for the first time so I joined the open water exposure in Tali, Batangas to put our learnings into the test but little did I know that we would be asked to do cliff diving… without life vest!

And March 18, 2018, was the day that made all the difference – the day I literally took a leap of fate and let go of the tiniest strands of fears I have in me.

I CHOSE TO JUMP TO THE UNKNOWN… AND I MADE IT OUT ALIVE.

“Ganito pala talaga kaalat ang tubig sa dagat? Lasang patis!” Those were the first words I uttered when I jumped off the cliff and landed into the ocean which made the people around me burst into laughter. Yes, that was my first ever ocean experience and I couldn’t be any prouder to have done it via cliff diving — without wearing any life vest!

My deepest gratitude goes to the ever helpful coaches and co-students I’ve met along the way. I couldn’t have done it without their support system. I know I’m still far from being a triathlete but I am a step closer to a dream I once thought was impossible.


Now I enjoy summer trips and desire to visit all the wonderful beaches our country has. Now I get why people say they need a dose of “vitamin sea” ‘cause I already feel the need myself. Now I go crazy when there are clearance sales on swimsuits and bikinis. Now I already know how delicate the texture of white sand is. Now sea or ocean, which used to be the scariest place on Earth to me before, is that place I am longing to go to to find peace and serenity.

This might not be the bravest story ever told on taking a leap of fate, but doing so has made me aware of a new world that I didn’t know existed. And nothing hereafter will hold me back, because if you were able to conquer what freaks you out the most, what is there left to stop you?”


So, to you reading this, may this inspire you to never be afraid of getting out of your comfort zone and do the thing that you’ve been wanting to do but scares you. Trust me when I say that, you are more powerful than what you think you are!

And this doesn’t just apply to conquering the fear of water or doing other sports, but to all aspects in life – be it in applying for a job you don’t think you’re qualified for, or watching a horror movie alone, or taking risks to do things differently!

Do what scares you until it doesn’t.

Before you say that you will never do something out of fear, just ask yourself this question first: if you are shutting yourself out of a completely new world full of experiences and opportunities you don’t even know exist, are you really living life to the fullest?

You decide. 😊

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