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Most adults who learn to swim do so because they have a child or grandchild in their life.

"They're tired of being afraid and nervous every time their kids are around water," says Gary Nolden, owner of the Olympian School of Swimming in Toronto.

And make no mistake, most of them are afraid of the water – very afraid.

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To deal with that fear, the most essential thing is for adults to get comfortable being in the water. That means starting by simply stepping into the shallow end of a pool and putting your face in the water.

"It's the biggest thing," Nolden says. "Swimming is all about being relaxed. It's about being comfortable in the water."

Once you're okay with submerging your face, try lifting your feet off the bottom of the pool. These small steps will help you get comfortable.

Unless you can be calm in the water, you'll likely never learn to swim well. You'll certainly never enjoy it.

"Once you're comfortable, then you begin to float," Nolden says.

Start on your back. Many people will find it difficult to lie back enough for water to enter their ears. Take your time. Again, you have to be comfortable at every stage before moving on.

Once you can float independently on your stomach, work on front kicking and back kicking. The next step is to roll onto your back.

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"That's like the safety position. They can breath when they're on their back," Nolden says. "That's the beginning of really learning how to swim."

It usually takes adults about 10 45-minute lessons to go from where you can float on your back by yourself to kicking independently over shallow water, Nolden says. But try not to put any pressure on yourself.

"The less you try, the faster you'll learn," Nolden says.

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