Thursday, May 13, 2004
What Would You Do: Fear Of Drowning
The ocean ... canals ... rivers ... We have just about every known body of water in South Florida. Yet, some people never indulge themselves in these natural treasures... and that could be because they have a fear of drowning. So what do you do to overcome the anxiety? Here's 7's Charles Perez.
(WSVN) -- Ana Osejo has been told the same story about how she almost drowned since she was a little girl in Nicaragua.
"I was eight months when we were crossing the river," says Ana.
And she's been afraid of the water ever since.
"Your gripping my hand now," notes Charles.
She's gripping my hand ... pulling my arm back actually.
Getting near the water is enough to send her into a panic.
"I think I'll die," she says. "I don't know how to swim."
Ana is not alone. A fear of drowning or a fear of water is fairly common... Even here in South Florida... and for most people it all goes back to one thing.
"They never really learned from a young age how to swim or how to act in the water," says Patricia Leon of the American Red Cross
Experts suggest moving at your own pace. If you're afraid, return to the point where you're most comfortable.
Also, try to find a buddy. Someone who can learn to swim with you.
Then when you're ready, begin by dangling your feet, just trying to breathe and relax, and, when you feel the time is right, sign up for swim classes.
"The first most basic steps that someone can do is go take a swimming class," Patricia says.
She adds there are even classes specifically designed for adults ...
"They start from the basic level of how to get into the water, to learning your basic doggy paddle strokes, to your more basic front stroke, side stroke, back strokes," Patricia says.
Now a healthy fear of the water isn't a bad thing. There are real dangers out there.
But knowing what to do can mean the difference between being afraid of the water and becoming more comfortable with it.
And that means knowing how to spot and deal with rip currents and undertow.
"The more you are educated, the more you learn technique, the more you're going to develop confidence," Patricia says.
A confidence that will have you enjoying the warm waters of South Florida instead of avoiding them.
Next week, it can be anything from a puppy dog to a grizzly bear.
Do you fear certain animals?
Charles will show us how to overcome the phobia.
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