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How I transformed trauma created by my dad and learned to swim

Updated: Dec 16, 2023

I grew up not knowing anything about any sports. Swimming wasn’t even a thing anyone in my family did. We didn’t have any bodies of water or pools around the area I was raised in.

When I was 14, my father took my sister and me to a spa with thermal baths and swimming pools. He said he would teach us how to swim, so we got very excited.

He taught me by pushing my head under the water for what seemed to me like a few minutes. I was struggling to come up for air.

I was crying and ran away in fear and panic. Didn’t go in the water for the remainder of that trip.

I was not able to put my head underwater after this. And I was terrified of pools and seaside and lakes. I did have friends offering to teach me, but it never worked. Going to any pool and lake meant sitting on the edge - frogging style :)) - and maybe going a few steps into the water.

girl in pool
After my first successful 50m unbroken

I wasn’t even comfortable on an inflatable mattress. Not having that ground under my feet was terrifying. After I met my best friend, it became a thing for me. I do not know any sports or how to swim, and meanwhile, she enjoys many water sports and adventures.

We went to the seaside a few times, and of course, I was only entering the sea up to my belly, no more. When we went kayaking and rafting, I struggled a lot with the fear, and at certain times, I was closing my eyes to not see where I was. :) I was holding on for dear life, literally.

I realised I was always going to be afraid of the water. But I may have to do something about that.

I was scrolling on social media one day two years ago when I saw someone recommending Lukas as a swim coach for adult beginners. So I said I’d ask if he also teaches people who fear water. He gave me the website and said he was available whenever. But mentally, I wasn’t ready. So I didn’t write to him afterwards or get any class. I was too afraid to even try.

Last year, when I was going through some personal issues, struggling with pretty much everything, I said, I need a change. And this seemed like a big challenge for me. So, I texted Lukas again. And went for my first class. I was so scared I was shaking. He was very understanding and patient and explained certain things in a way that I could trust him. After that class, I called my friend, telling her I survived! Haha :)

girl swimming
Me practicing breaststroke

I remember days when I cried after the classes, frustrated that I could not do it. I wasn’t able to let go of the edge of the pool. I wanted to give up so many times but kept telling myself that at least I was trying to get over the fear, even though I wouldn’t learn how to swim.

One day, I was swimming across, with my snorkel, of course, when it filled up with water. I wasn’t able to breathe in or out. I started panicking and moving quickly, and I thought nobody could help me. I was on my own. Even though Lukas was ready to jump in :))

I lifted my head above the water and moved my arms and legs, looking only at him. He was showing me slow arm movements, trying to calm me down. The moment I reached him by the edge, I was so terrified and shaking that I couldn’t even talk.

girl in front of the pool
I am trying to convince myself to jump into the pool

After this event, I realized that even in these scary and dangerous moments, I can still control myself and keep my mind on track.

When I managed to swim the entire 50m breaststroke, I celebrated! I was crying with excitement. Such a big moment for me.

I am still working on my swimming transformation, currently on freestyle and other styles, but I am confident I will get there. Even now, my brain is playing tricks on me when I try to swim further from the edge, but this is another challenge Lukas and I must overcome. :)


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Awesome achievement Lavinia 👏👏👏 you are stronger than you think 👊👊👊 and thank you for inspiring me to return back to pool ❤️


Dec 01, 2023

Awesome story, Lavinia! I'm glad you've overcome your fear. Just one typo in the last sentence: must -> will 💪


Marta Stas
Marta Stas
Nov 15, 2023

Bravo Lavinia! I can relate to so many parts of your story! Congratulations on overcoming your fear and good luck with achieving your next goals! 👏


Adriana Bunea
Adriana Bunea
Nov 15, 2023

Wow, Lavinia- what a great story! And inspiring in so many ways, especially on conquering fear 💪

Scared, shaking and afraid to be far from the edge of the pool is so relatable 🙈😁

Btw, great storytelling skills too- it was like watching a short video with your swimming journey so far ☺️


Maria Kolosova
Maria Kolosova
Nov 15, 2023

Great job Lavinia!! Keep showing up and you will do better and better! I feel you on “crying after swimming classes” and “celebrating first unbroken 50m” 😀🥳 see you in the pool!! 🤩

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