Over 10 million adults in the UK say they are afraid to take part in any form of swimming, and over 33% of the adult population state they know at least one person who has a real fear of the water.

Aquaphobia can have a very real impact on a person’s quality of life, sometimes cripplingly so. They miss out on opportunities, experiences, time with their families, and it can leave a person feeling alone, embarrassed, or frightened.

RLSS UK have joined forces with the UK Academy of Swimming who have developed a specialised training programme which aims to give people confidence and control in the water.

Written and created by the UK Academy of Swimming developed with the RLSS UK, the Adult Aquaphobia Learning Programme is a 12-step progressive programme, delivered by swimming professionals, to help people who are aquaphobic, weak or non-swimmers to overcome their fear of water from both a psychological and physical perspective, and in so doing break down barriers to participation.

The Adult Aquaphobia Learning Programme can be taught by swimming teachers who have completed a two-day professional development programme called Certificate in Teaching Aquaphobic Adults (CTAA).

If you want to teach the Adult Aquaphobia Learning Programme or want to train your staff to deliver the course, click here to find out more.

If you have a fear of the water and want to participate in the Adult Aquaphobia Learning Programme, click here to find out more.

About the Phobia


Aquaphobia is an abnormal and persistent fear of water that is beyond a person’s control and often interferes with daily life, confidence & self-esteem.

For some, even talking about swimming or water related activities can cause a traumatic reaction or a sense of panic even if they are nowhere near water, such is the degree of their fear.

Aquaphobic adults will tend to avoid swimming whether at their local pool or on a beach holiday and may even fear the water in a shower or bath.

Aquaphobia often has far reaching effects on the quality of a person’s life, affecting their life style choices both personally and professionally, also their relationships with friends and family.

Recent research carried out by RLSS UK revealed that:

  • Over 14% of the adult population has a fear of the water
  • A staggering 33% knew at least one person with a phobia of water.
  • One in four adults are afraid to take part in any form of swimming
  • Over 7% are even afraid of having a bath.


There are five categories of aquaphobia:

  1. A first-hand experience of a traumatic event (whether remembered or not)
  2. A second-hand experience, witnessing or hearing about a traumatic or upsetting event
  3. Fear caused by under developed swimming or water survival skills
  4. Has learnt to swim but still feels anxiety and fear in the water
  5. Social pre-conditioning caused by family or community customs – As children we take on many personality traits of people close to us.


If you have Aquaphobia and want to overcome your fear, click here to find out more about the Adult Aquaphobia Learning Programme.