Overcoming a Fear of Water with Stand Up Paddle Boarding
Water is powerful. Its consistent pounding breaks down mountains. As it winds its way along it cuts out deep ravines. All manner of creatures live amongst its depths. Water is nothing to fear. It provides life, it’s where all life came from. But I can almost see how one would be scared of it. It’s a deep, dark unknown world. However, when you can transform that fear through knowledge and experience it becomes the best playground planet Earth has to offer.
As I’ve spoken to various people about Wild SUP Tours, one of the most common responses I’ve gotten is, ‘oh no, I can’t swim’. This is surprising to me. Ireland is an island and not even a very big one. Dingle is a seaside town. Swimming seems like it should be one of the first things you learn to do. True, on grey cloudy days the ocean doesn’t look all that inviting, wind and waves crashing about. The foreboding nature of the cliffs and rocks must certainly play a part as well. However, at a certain point swimming becomes a life saving skill not to mention an opportunity for more enjoyment and fun.
In Irish mythology, the sea plays a large role, with secret islands that only appear once in a blue moon, to celtic gods transforming into horses, creating a huge wave, as a means to get to the afterlife. Legends of phantom ships that often times meant death and fishermens’ tales of encountering sea serpents that lead to misfortune. Tales that go as far forward as to the coffin ships leaving Ireland during the famine times. These myths and stories seem to have created an ingrained cultural fear of the sea.
These myths and legends must play a role in that fear. However, the results can be counter acted by exposure to the very element that causes said fear. By spending time in the ocean with a knowledgeable guide learning how tides, currents, and wind actually work you can become confident and comfortable spending time is the awesome power of the sea.
In my time stand up paddle boarding here in Ireland I’ve seen self proclaimed non swimmers experience the sea in a safe environment and realize that everything will be OK. If you are one of these people, falling in off a SUP board is the best thing you can possibly do. You have a life vest on, a wetsuit, which adds buoyancy, and a trained life guard near by. You will be safe, there is nothing to fear. The more exposure and experience you get the more confident you become and the more opportunities open up. Stand up paddle boarding is an excellent way to face a fear of the water and slowly but surely overcome it.
Water deserves respect, it is not to be taken lightly but with understanding and exposure, it need not be feared.
Plus, added bonus:
There are no killer sharks or other potentially deadly creatures in the sea around Ireland!
The worst you’ll get is a jellyfish sting.