About ALP

The Aquaphobia Learning Programme (ALP) is a 12-stage step approach to support those with a fear of water, providing them with the confidence, skills and techniques to enjoy the unique freedom that being in water can give.

Distinctive from swimming programmes, ALP focuses on eliminating and desensitising fear, with the physical mechanics of swimming being secondary. The aim of the programme is to teach a participant how to relax, float, feel happy and in control in the water and reduce all stresses in a safe and careful way.

Taught by a qualified Aquaphobia Coach, each course is tailored to the individual’s personal needs and degree of fear, going at their own preferred pace, so they feel uplifted, encouraged and comfortable to undertake lessons on a regular basis. When a person has achieved a stage, they then progress on to the next one in sequence, with no set timescale or pressures on the individual they will learn key swimming skills that really boost enjoyment and relaxation.

By going through the 12 steps, participants will grow in confidence and learn the basic principles of: entering, standing, floating, moving and breathing in water.

Creator of the course Master Coach Mike Burman LIII said: “As each new swimming action is correctly learned, it is embedded into both the conscious and sub conscious mind and also into muscle memory. This increases the skill base, knowledge and self-belief in each individual.

“As the skill level goes up, the fear reduces. You will never be rushed into achieving the next stage. We understand that some aquatic skills are easier learnt than others with some aspects of the fear being more entrenched than others.

“Every achievement, however small, is a milestone. Something to be proud of, boost confidence and by happy about.”


Are you afraid of the water? Do you want the opportunity to enjoy swimming pools and open water and a whole range of other water based recreational activities?

There are Aquaphobia “Centres of Excellence” around the UK

About Aquaphobia


quaphobia 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 lifestyle choices both personally and professionally, also their relationships with friends and family.

Research in 2016 with the RLSS UK and UK Academy of Swimming within the United Kingdom revealed that over 14% of the adult population has a fear of water, with a staggering 33% stating they knew at least one person with a “water phobia”. One in four adults are afraid to take part in any form of swimming and over 7% (4 million people) are even afraid of having a bath. 13.8 million people will not go into a pool due to fear.

There are 5 ALP 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 underdeveloped 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. Copyright UK-AoS 2018


Can you relate to these items or does this sound like someone you know?

Davinah’s story

Mother of four Davinah Jade had a traumatic experience at a swimming pool when she was just seven years old which caused a crippling fear of water.

The 37-year-old from Enfield Town said: “I was pushed into a pool when we went swimming at school. I’d never actually been in the water in a swimming pool so it was like my first experience. I just came around on the side with someone helping me to get the water out. I never went back in the pool.”

Davinah, who is no stranger to adventure and has been sky diving and bungee jumping, describes an irrational panic when she sees large quantities of water, that has even made her pass out.

“If I can’t be in control of the situation, instantly I start to panic. I feel like I’m hyperventilating and have a difficulty breathing, and a difficulty in being able to focus on anything besides there being so much water. Sometimes it can just get ridiculously out of control, just because I can see water, not because I’m in any danger.

“One time I was driving over Dartford bridge I was going to see my friend and – I didn’t realise, I wasn’t prepared for it – there was lots of water. I was driving and my mind just kind of faded away that the bridge had collapsed and I’d fallen into the water and I wouldn’t be able to swim and I was going to drown, I was going to die.

“I had to stop the car, and I mean you’re not allowed to stop on Dartford Bridge, but I had to stop the car and I had to literally get my thoughts together because I was thinking I’m going to crash the car if I don’t get my mind together. When I did start driving off, I was driving off at 10 miles an hour and people were beeping at me and losing their minds but I was just thinking, I’m surrounded by it and I can’t do anything about it. It’s frustrating because when I look back, I feel kind of silly because I was never in a life-threatening position but I felt like I was.”

Determined to overcome her fear, Davinah tried swimming lessons but quickly learned that the lessons weren’t going to help: “It’s very different not being able to swim and not being able to swim with a deep fear and I felt like that although they were great teachers, they didn’t really cater to people that actually had a fear, that were scared so I was able to get to a certain point but then couldn’t go any further.”


Davinah worried that her fear was having a negative impact on her family, particularly her youngest son: “I didn’t want him to pick up what I had a fear of when he doesn’t actually have a fear of it himself. I could see that he’s just watched and learned my behaviour.”

“I know a lot of other mums that go swimming with their children on weekends and holidays, so swimming has just become part of their life and I couldn’t do that with them. I felt like I’d missed something with them, like a milestone had been missed. I wanted to be able to be on the beach and just say to my children lets quickly go for a swim, lets jump in or lets splash about.”

Davinah says taking part in the ALP course has changed her life: “I’m no longer scared of the water. I recently went on holiday and was at the beach in the water when beforehand I couldn’t even be close to water in such a large capacity. Best of all, I’m moving my career towards my dream job as an air hostess which is something I would never have ever dreamed of doing in the past because of the water aspect of the job.” “Being comfortable in the water has given me a sense of freedom and means that I’m no longer restricted to what I can or can’t do.  It has given me such a sense of accomplishment because it’s the biggest fear that I have ever had.”