Aquaphobia: how to overcome your fear of water?

Where does aquaphobia come from? Are there any solutions to overcome fear of water? Like most phobias, fear of water (or aquaphobia) is an excessive, persistent anxiety disorder that is beyond a person’s control and often has an impact on their daily life.

Why am I afraid of water?

Aquaphobia is an intense, irrational fear of water that can range from simple apprehension to total panic. People with aquaphobia may feel a strong anxiety or panic fear of water, even when it’s shallow or calm. This is a real source of anxiety for these people.

Examples: fear of the water itself, fear of drowning and therefore dying, fear of diving or falling into the water, fear of depth and being drawn to the bottom, fear of getting water in the eyes, ears or head underwater…

Like many phobias, it can affect personal and professional life choices, as well as relationships with friends and family.

That’s why Swim Stars has developed a special program for adults with aquaphobia.

Where can I take a course?

How do you explain the fear of water?

In France, 1 in 6 people say they can’t swim or are aquaphobic.
This proportion increases with age: 5% in the 15-24 age group and over 35% in the 65-75 age group. This fear of the aquatic environment, more or less deep-rooted, can arise at a very young age and persist over the years. (Santé Publique France figures)

If left untreated, it tends to persist and even increase in intensity over time.

As with any phobia, aquaphobia has many origins:

  1. due to having experienced a traumatic event (with or without memories) that has provoked a feeling of powerlessness and deep fear
  2. When you have seen or heard about a traumatic or upsetting event that triggers a panic reaction.
  3. Fear caused by underdeveloped swimming or aquatic skills
  4. The one where you’ve learned to swim but still feel anxious and scared in the water
  5. due to social pre-conditioning caused by family customs or by a fear unconsciously transmitted by parents (children are veritable sponges)
  6. due to a physical problem such as an allergy to chlorine or to bacteria present in the natural environment

Anti-aquaphobia courses

What can you do to overcome your fear of water?

Swimming lessons for aquaphobic teenagers and adults are designed to teach you how to relax, float, feel happy and control your body in the water, in a safe, progressive and stress-free way.

How and why does it work?

Thanks to a 12-step approach designed to remove the fear of water, students regain their confidence and acquire the skills and techniques to enjoy the pleasures of the water to the full.

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At Swim Stars

Anti-aquaphobia courses take place in small groups with the coach in the water, so as to be as close as possible to the specific needs and degree of fear of each individual. Students feel confident and take it one step at a time, with no time-scale or pressure.

The basic principles are taught in stages: entering the water, controlling breathing, standing upright, floating and moving through the water.

Municipal swimming pools and water sports centers also offer aquaphobia courses, under the supervision of a lifeguard, to help you overcome your fear of water.


CBT (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy) acts on maladaptive behaviors and associated thoughts. These therapies are highly effective and widely recognized at scientific level for the psychological management of anxiety and phobic disorders.

Hypnosis is also increasingly used to treat phobias.

How and why does it work?

Between sessions with the therapist, aimed at combating and eliminating maladaptive behaviours and encouraging others, ‘desensitization’ tasks must be carried out, in stages.


  • Walking near water (harbour, beach…)
  • Getting on a docked boat
  • Take an anti-aquaphobia course
  • Splash water on face
  • Submerge your head
  • Take a boat trip
  • Swimming (in a pool, in the open sea, by submerging your head…)
  • Discover scuba diving

In short

A phobia of water will generate a more or less distressing and blocking reaction for the person concerned, whether around water (beach, pool, lake…) or even in the shower.

For some people, this phobia can be accompanied by a fear of fauna or flora related to the aquatic environment: algae, fish, plants…

A real handicap for some, aquaphobia is at the root of a number of avoidance behaviours that lead to feelings of shame and reduced self-confidence.

Solutions exist: psychotherapy, hypnosis, anti-aquaphobia courses…

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