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A few tips to prepare for your first time at a public pool;

for nervous or unsure adults


Choosing a pool


  • Click here to find a pool near you.

  • Click here for a list of 5 Star locations (these pools have passed a rigorous 40 point aquatic safety check and demonstrate a strong commitment to aquatic safety standards).

  • Research pool dimensions (length and depths). A 50m long pool is Olympic size; you may wish to try a 25m long pool first. 

  • Research pool temperature (every pool centre should know this - don't be afraid to ask if you're concerned you might feel cold).

  • Research the best time to go: find out the class schedule to avoid busy times/kids, or call to ask staff when it's quiet.

  • Research if there are lifeguards on duty, if you're feeling nervous about going to the pool alone.


What to pack (aside from your swimming costume, towel & toiletries)


  • Bottle of water. Learning how to swim is thirsty work - even if you think you've drunk enough of the pool water by accident! Keeping hydrated is also important to avoid muscle cramps.

  • Pair of thongs (ideally with good grip) to wear before entry and after exit from the pool itself, and to shower in.

  • Spare change (if the changing room lockers are coin operated). 

  • Sun protection (sunscreen, rash shirt, etc) if attending an outdoor pool. 

  • A change of clothes, particularly important in cooler weather.


Before entering the pool


  • Familiarise yourself with where the changing rooms and toilets are.

  • Be aware of the pool rules; these will be signposted.

  • Introduce yourself to the staff/lifeguards. They can help to answer any questions and guide you to the safest areas to swim. 

  • Check the pool depths (which will be clearly sign posted) so you know where you can and cannot stand. Know your limitations; go only where you feel confident/capable. Note reference points to where the pool gets deeper.

  • Check the lane signage (for lap swimming there are usually fast/medium/slow lanes). There may also be a designated walking lane.

  • Be aware of different entry points (e.g. ladders/ramps/stairs) and understand how to use them. 


After entering the pool


  • It's easier to swim/float when you relax!

  • Practise floating in the unfamiliar water.

  • Set yourself achievable goals! It's better to swim a short distance with good technique than a whole lap with bad! 

  • Swimming on your front: the black line at the bottom helps you to swim straight and also keep your head down. When the line forms a 'T' shape, it indicates you're close to the pool wall.

  • Swimming on your back: the flags hung over the pool indicate you're 5 metres from the pool wall.

  • Treading water: practise this where you feel comfortable, however you need to be deep enough to kick properly!

  • Don't be shy to use flotation aids; even triathletes train with them!

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