How to Prepare for the Swimming Unit in Gym Class
Many middle school, high school, and college gym classes require a swimming unit, which involves spending substantial time with your peers in locker rooms, showers, and in and around a swimming pool. While many students dread this unit, and find that it makes them feel awkward and insecure, the swimming unit doesn’t need to be uncomfortable. If you plan ahead and bring things you need to class, and treat your peers and coach with respect, you’ll be well on your way to having a positive experience in your swimming unit.
Bringing the Right Supplies for the Pool
Plan ahead for your day.Swim class is often inconvenient; it involves undressing, showering, getting wet, and then getting dressed again, all while you’re still at school and in front of your friends and peers. Plan ahead before you leave your home that morning, and you’ll be able to minimize the inconvenience that comes from swim class.
- If you have gym class earlier in the day, consider wearing your swimsuit under your clothes so you don’t have to change when you get to the locker room.
- If you’re a girl, consider tightly braiding your hair in the morning. No guarantees, but it may keep your hair dry.
- Avoid wearing tight clothes such as skinny jeans, since these are harder to put on after getting out of the pool.
- Always lock your belongings in a locker with a combination lock. Practice using the lock until you can confidently open it without looking at the code.
Consider the swimwear that you plan on wearing.Your goal should be finding something that’s comfortable, practical, and efficient in the pool. You’ll need to wear the same swimwear for as long as your swimming unit lasts, so find something that you enjoy wearing.
- For girls, choose a swimsuit that you feel comfortable in and that lets you move freely in the pool.
- For guys, you’ll need a pair of comfortable swim trunks. Avoid any that impair your movement or are excessively baggy, as these will slow you down in the pool.
- Consult your instructor and make sure that your planned attire follows any regulations in place.
- Make sure that, if you wear shorts that are not intended for water (basketball shorts, running shorts, etc.) that they have a very secure waistband, or preferably a drawstring. You don’t want to lose your shorts in the pool.
Purchase a good pair of goggles.As long as your school allows them, goggles are a practical part of every swimmer’s attire. You should have a high-quality pair that will keep the water out of your eyes. This will help you focus more on your swimming, and less on the distracting feeling of water in your eyes.
- When you wear your goggles, make sure that they’re not too tight across the nose.Goggles should be snug around your eyes, and not let water seep in, but they shouldn’t be uncomfortably tight.
Prepare your bag with necessities.When the gym period ends, you’ll probably need to dry off, shower, and change your clothes before you move on to the rest of your day. Plan ahead and bring everything you’ll need with you in your duffel bag. Include:
- Large plastic bag for your wet swimsuit.
- Shampoo and conditioner (for girls, or guys with longer hair).
- A hairbrush/wide toothed comb (for people with long hair).
- Body wash (Chlorine will dry out your skin unless you wash it off).
- Deodorant and/or body spray.
- Large beach towel.
- Makeup (if you plan to apply it after gym class).
- Flip-flops to wear on the pool deck.
Bring tampons if you’re menstruating.If you’re on your period (or anticipate that you could be, within the next couple of days), bring tampons with you in your duffel bag. Tampons can be worn in the pool without any problem, and should be worn instead of pads in this setting.
- The adhesive on most types of pads isn’t waterproof, so they may come off in the pool, and are generally less effective in water than tampons anyway.
- Many young women start wearing tampons (rather than pads) for the first time during a gym swimming unit. If you’re in this situation, it’s completely normal and nothing to feel worried or anxious about.
Pack your things in a duffel bag.Since you’ll be changing clothes at the pool and bringing more items to class than you normally would, you’ll need a pool-specific bag to bring everything in. This is all in an effort to keep your belongings safe and intact.
- Make sure that the bag zips shut and has a flat bottom so your clothes won’t get wrinkled. In addition, you may want to look for a waterproof bag, in case pool water gets splashed on it.
- Consider investing in a combination lock if you haven’t already.
Enjoy yourself!Usually, swimming units are stress-free and involve tons of free time. Don’t be too worried about it. Many people squirm at the thought of mandatory swimming with classmates, but end up loving it. Don’t get too worked up with anxiety over the swimming unit; be mature and have fun.
Preparing to Interact with Other Students
Realize that everyone is as uncomfortable as you are.So often, it’s easy to imagine that your peers are enjoying the exact activities that make you feel uncomfortable or uneasy. It’s important to realize that everyone has the same concerns and insecurities about swim class.
- Use this to your advantage; if you know that others are uncomfortable as well, you don’t need to feel self-conscious or awkward. You’re not alone!
Act naturally in the locker room.Many teens’ (even adults’) anxiety surrounding swimming in gym class stems from their apprehension about the locker room.The main concern often stems from a lack of privacy, and from the awkward experience of being even partially undressed in front of your peers.
- Locker rooms showers are seldom a single large, open space. You can often find a private shower cell, in which you can shower, towel off, and change your clothes, if you’re uncomfortable changing in front of others.
- If there aren’t separate shower cells for you to change in, you can change your underwear with your towel still wrapped around your waist.
- Be discrete when undressing or showering around your peers. Don’t linger or stare at anyone’s body—this rule applies when your peers are wearing their swimsuits, too. Treat your peers with the same discretion that you’d like them to treat you with.
Be kind towards the peers in your class.Many students feel anxious when faced with swimming; maybe they’re uncomfortable in water, don’t like the idea of changing and showering in front of their peers, or are concerned about being seen in revealing garments in front by members of the opposite sex. Rather than worsening this by being rude to people or treating anyone with scorn, be kind to your fellow students.
- Be considerate of your classmates. High-school especially is a time where many people are self-conscious, and standing around in tight, revealing clothing really doesn’t help.
- Don’t berate or belittle anyone.
Enjoy the sense of community.Once everyone has gotten over the initial anxiety about being seen in a swimsuit and having to jump in a cold pool during the school day, swim class can be fun. It encourages a sense of community, and if you participate in the team-building, you can help yourself and other students enjoy the class more.
- Be encouraging to your peers; cheer each other on in the pool.
- Say something like, “You’ve really come along way this month; you seem like you’re having fun in the water!”
Getting the Most Out of Your Swimming Unit
Try your best in the pool.The point of any swimming unit is to learn how to swim (or to improve in your swimming skills), and you won’t get much out of the class if you don’t participate and make an effort.Whether this is your first time in the pool or you’re an experienced swimmer, get out there, participate, and have fun!
- Even if you can’t swim, try your best. Most teachers can recognize when someone is trying and will give you a good grade for effort.
Listen to the coach and follow their direction.High school swim unit is a great opportunity to improve your swimming skills, especially if you plan to compete in a swim club.Your swim coach is most likely a highly qualified individual who cares about his or her students and wants to help them swim better.
- Even if you’re not a competitive swimmer and have no plans to become one, you should still obey the coach. He or she can lend a fun sense of community to the class, and swimming is a great way to stay in shape.
Improve your competitive swimming abilities.Many high-school students are already involved in a swim team, and regularly compete in swimming or diving competitions. Learning from a coach is especially valuable if you’re already a competitive swimmer. Even if you routinely swim and train at a private swimming club, your high school coach can add a sense of community and team spirit to your swimming.
- Focus on learning new strokes and improving your time; tune out distractions. Take your training—even if it’s not at your normal swim club—as seriously as possible.
QuestionWhat if I don't know how to swim?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerThe pool should have a shallow end. Also, you should tell the teacher and ask him/her if they can help teach you.Thanks!
QuestionDo I bring extra undeewearwikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerNot necessarily; you should be able to put back on the underwear that you were wearing when you arrived. If you'd prefer a clean pair, though, it's fine to bring an extra pair.Thanks!
QuestionWhere can I find a swim suit like the one in the pictureswikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerStart by looking in a large department store, or looking around online. If you're in a department store, the sales staff should be able to help you find a suitable swim suit.Thanks!
QuestionWhat if im already on a swim teamwikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerEven if you're already on a swim team, you'll probably still need to take your gym class swim unit. You may be one of the more advanced swimmers among your peer group; let the gym coach know that you're on a swim team, and he or she may ask you to help some of the inexperienced swimmers.Thanks!
QuestionWhat if I can barely keep my head above the water?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerYou should stay in the shallow end, and tell the teacher you are not ready to go to the deeper end. They should understand, and work with you to improve your skills.Thanks!
QuestionWhat do I do if I'm not comfortable wearing tampons?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerYou can let your teacher know that you're on your period. Most teachers will understand and won't make you swim then.Thanks!
QuestionHow do I prepare for swimming if I discover my new suit is too small on the day of the class?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerI would suggest informing your teacher that your suit is too small and you feel uncomfortable wearing it in front of other students. She may have another one you could use, or she may allow you to sit out until the next class.Thanks!
QuestionIs it ok if I wear an oversize top over my swimming costume?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerThat's up to your gym teacher. Ask first.Thanks!
QuestionWhat should I do with about my hair? I have gym second period.Kendall GrubeCommunity AnswerGet a swim cap. It will keep your hair out of your way and mostly dry.Thanks!
QuestionWhat if I forget my suit and the only loaner is too big?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerYou probably won't be able to swim that day. Do your best to not forget your suit. If possible, pack your bag the night before, or write yourself a reminder note and leave it somewhere you will definitely see it in the morning.Thanks!
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