Life by the Water

Getting Over My Fear of the Ocean

It is so funny to think only 10 years ago I had barely set foot in the ocean. I probably could have counted the times I had been swimming in it on one hand. These days I couldn’t imagine a life without it.

The big blue. This amazing expanse of water has a lot to answer for. I think we all know someone (if it isn’t ourselves) who has a fear of the ocean. It can take someone’s sanity and reasonable thinking, throw it out the window and turn them into a bumbling mess that believes standing in knee deep water is asking for certain death by a man-eating shark.

I was 100% without a doubt one of those people. Fear of the ocean and what lurked beneath. I think it all comes down to exposure. Growing up near the coast we would holiday at the beach quite regularly, but unfortunately the large population of stingers meant we would rarely swim in the ocean. The Australian stereotype of “everything is out to kill you” really shines through in northern Queensland.

I knew this wasn’t the case everywhere but somehow it had been ingrained in my mind, there were real dangers to fear that lurked out past the shore. Whether it was a rip that would drag you out so far you would never see land again or the risk of ending up in some type of Sharknado situation, there was always a good reason to stay dry.

I was even a pretty strong swimmer but only in the confines of a large chlorinated pool. Which reminds me, surely I was not the only one who had visions of sharks creeping up on me as I was swimming laps!

Seriously why do our minds do this to us!!

Everything changed when I met Nathan. Lifeguard, surfer, lives in board shorts, sandy – all the time, ocean swims for showers.…  You get the idea. First time I visited him working at the beach he wanted to take me out paddling on his board. Sounds like fun right?…… Wrong! At this stage in my ocean relationship the thought of paddling out, away from land stood against every natural instinct in my body. Bear in mind on this particular day there was also an influx of blubber jellyfish in the waters. These jellyfish are harmless and barely have a sting to them. To an ocean novice though, being surrounded by these clear blobs of evil just raises the level of terror. My fear of the ocean of about to max out!


We got on the board and off we went. I did it. I didn’t enjoy it. But I did it. I think I may have cried a little, but the point is that I did it.

It was something that made me so uncomfortable and nervous – maybe that was part of my wanting to overcome the fear. Overtime I also became more educated on the ocean and the animals that live in it. Once you begin to understand something there are usually less reasons to fear it. I think somewhere inside I knew I really wanted to be a part of it all because I kept going back. It was a pretty slow journey but I guess each time it got a little easier. Nowadays, my fear of the ocean has gone and I live 100m from the beach with the surfer that introduced me to this other world I love so much. Our days-off revolve around tides, wind and swell – amongst other adventures – and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Notable achievements:

  1. Swim in the ocean without thinking about shark attacks
  2. Dive under waves without the fear of ending up face to face with a shark
  3. Withstand blue bottle jellyfish stings (Not ideal, but tends to happen occasionally in summer)
  4. Sit out in the ocean on a surfboard and actually find moments of peace (surfing itself is a different story – too bloody difficult!)
  5. Choosing to be in the ocean – and loving it!

Learn to swim with confidence, learn about waves, currents and tides, learn about the amazing creatures that inhabit our waters. Soon you will realise there is far more to enjoy than to fear!


Fear is fascinating. It gives sharks blood hungry purpose with superhuman speed, and gives jellyfish lasso-like tentacles that will pull you way out into the deep. Keep exposing yourself to the things that frighten you and little by little I am sure it will get easier. A fear of the ocean can take a while to overcome but I promise it is worth it if you do. Getting stung by a jellyfish is never on my to-do list and I’m still not sure how calm I would remain if a shark swam right past me, but that isn’t what I think about anymore when I am out in the ocean…. It is just pure bliss!

Until next time.



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