Swimming Dream Meaning and Interpretation

Swimming is one of those activities that is instinctual, so it’s no surprise that a dream of swimming is a common one to have.

Although it’s a widespread dream, it will mean something slightly different to everyone, as your associations with swimming, related memories, and your relationship with water will be completely different from other people’s. 

Here’s everything you need to know about swimming dreams, and how to decode them.

What Does Dreaming About Swimming Mean?

While some people adore swimming for its low-impact exercise which allows your brain to switch off, others only associate swimming with fear or anxiety of water. 

How you feel about swimming does dictate the meaning of the dream, and it will affect whether the dream is a positive one, or a complete nightmare.

If you dream of swimming effortlessly, you’re likely to have achieved a great balance in life right now, where you know exactly what you should do, and you feel there’s nothing stressful demanding your attention.

Dreaming of struggling to swim suggests that you are feeling overwhelmed, finding it difficult to keep your emotions in check, or you feel powerless in a situation in waking life.


In dreams, water is the symbol for emotion. Deep water refers to your feelings which are hidden away in your subconscious, but are present within your dream. 

If you dream of swimming underwater, for example, this is a visual representation of you exploring your subconscious.

The state of the water, whether clear or murky, refers to your emotional wellbeing, as does any currents, tides, riptides, or changes in the weather in your dream.

How you interact with the water, or react to being in the water, will also shed some light on the dream’s meaning. It may suggest that you feel better than you think you do in waking life, where you’ve been overthinking things or imagining that you’re not as capable as you actually are.

Swimming dreams can often occur when you’re unsure of where you are in life, or something in waking life has you questioning your emotions or your abilities, or something has given you a new perspective that doesn’t quite fit yet.

Dreaming of swimming, and the water around you, helps to give you a much better insight into all of these things, and you may wake up feeling a little better, a little clearer than you did before. 

If you dream of calm water (see also Water Dream Interpretation And Meaning), which feels more like a bath in your dream than a river or a sea, this is a good sign. It indicates that you’re well-grounded, you’re in a calm state of mind where you feel very little will be able to affect your sense of stability or security.

Dreaming of swimming in dirty water points to bad habits, which may harm your health or sense of wellbeing. It can also refer to waking life where you feel very confused (see also Labyrinth Dream Symbolism), or unable to stay objective.

A New Start

In many religions, water is often symbolic of renewal. In some cases, it’s used to welcome someone into a specific religion, acting as the start of a new path or life stage, such as baptisms and christenings.

In folklore, water is frequently used to symbolize a new start or rebirth, where the hero has emerged from a trial through to the other side, where they are better, stronger, and more capable than they were when they started out. 

In dreams, water can represent similar ideas, and swimming within water suggests that a new start is coming, especially if you cannot see land in your dream. 

If you dream of swimming in deep water, this indicates that a change will become a pivotal point in your life, a clear line of before and after. It may take you some time to adjust to the changes, but you’ll get there.

Dreaming of diving into water to escape something or to avoid someone signifies that you want a fresh start away from any current problems, sources of stress, or turmoil in your life. You long for your concerns to go away.

If you dream of swimming toward a shore, landmark, or somewhere you’ll be able to get out of the water, this new beginning or change will be easy to adapt to, and you’ll be able to focus on what you want most.

Longing for a Carefree Time

Dreaming of swimming can link to pleasant memories where you had fun swimming, or learning to swim as a child. 

Typically, when we swim, we tend to leave our problems at the shoreline, making way for simply being in the moment, leaving worries for later, and allowing us to concentrate on the now.

Dreaming of swimming with others and feeling carefree or happy suggests that you desire a time when you can simply cast your concerns aside for a little while, and pick them up later. You want more fun in your life. 

As a Mirror

If you dream of swimming through water as reflective as if it were a mirror, this suggests you need to take a look at your life, as it is right now. 

There’s something to gain from taking stock of where you are, whether that’s to adjust your course in order to move closer to a goal, or to move away from bad habits or sources of stress or negativity within your life.

Maybe you’ve been ignoring how you feel, or a particular instinct which has the potential to really help you out right now. 

You may be ignoring something because you’re not sure what else to do, or out of denial, and this dream is telling you to face up to it.

The Instinct to Survive

The act of swimming has long been connected to survival instincts, and the ability to cope under pressure, to react in the moment. 

In dreams, swimming is a way of drawing your attention to how well you feel you would do in such situations, and how well you swim within the dream links to your opinion of your capability, which could be a subconscious fear or instinct. 

If you cannot swim in waking life, and you dream of swimming without any fear, this refers to your survival instincts, your abilities, and how well you think you’re doing, rather than a desire to swim well, although that is another possible interpretation.

Dreaming of struggling to swim when you can swim well in waking life reflects your fear of being ‘out of your depth’ in a situation which has you questioning your own abilities to adapt, to be able to think past your deepest fears.

If you dream of tiring while swimming, and there’s no land in sight within your dream, this points to a waking life situation where you feel all your hard work is getting you nowhere. You suspect it might be time to direct your efforts elsewhere.

You may feel stuck in a situation which feels like it has you trapped, or your financial situation hasn’t gotten any easier despite your best efforts.

If you have a dream like this and everything in waking life is going fine at the minute, it can be a warning sign that you need to take a step back from something, or someone who will cause you problems in the future.

What to Consider when Interpreting Your Swimming Dream

There are many interpretations when it comes to finding the meaning behind your swimming dream, and it’s not exactly a one-size-fits-all when it comes to individual dreams. 

Here are some things to get you started in understanding the symbolism behind your dream.

What Stroke You Swam With

As there are many swimming strokes, it makes sense that if you dream of a specific stroke, this will help inform the meaning of your dream.

A backstroke, for example, suggests that you want to keep how you feel hidden, for fear of being judged, or you’re worried it will become the basis on which other people form their opinions of you.

But if you feel relaxed while doing the backstroke, this points to wanting things to be much easier to overcome. You want things to be simpler, or you want to take the mess out of a process.

A front crawl indicates that you’re making a lot of progress within your waking life. Now that you’ve broken things down into smaller pieces, they are much easier to deal with than you imagined them to be.

Dreaming of simply floating in the water without struggling or feeling afraid reflects a calm and happy time in your life. You’re content with the way things are. 


In your swimming dream, were you swimming with others, or were you by yourself?

Dreaming of swimming alone can suggest that this dream is a way of connecting with your unconscious mind, and memories, feelings or ideas which are contained within. In this case, the appearance of the water can mirror any issues or things you have forgotten about.

If you dream of swimming with strangers, these people are projections of different parts of you, and this dream is a way of making you aware of things you’ve subconsciously picked up on, and exploring your ideas and emotions. 

How you react to the strangers in your dream can tell you whether what you discover is positive or negative, if you felt comfortable and at ease around them, or wary or even angry.

Dreaming of swimming with people you know is an interesting one. If you were swimming in deep water with them, it relates to how well you trust these people, whether that’s inherently or not at all. 

Playing games with people you know while swimming refers to wanting a better or more profound relationship with them, or people in general. You’re seeking something more meaningful than what you have.

Your Own Associations with Swimming

Within your dream, your own memories, associations, and biases can also shape the symbolism behind your dream of swimming.

If you enjoy swimming, you’re more likely to dream of a positive time which involves it. When you dream of swimming, and you’re afraid, this is a dream you should pay attention to, as it is a warning.

A dream like this suggests that someone doesn’t have your best interests at heart like they say they do, or a long-term project won’t turn out well. 

It can mean that though you’re close to achieving a long-held dream, it may not be the pivotal moment you hoped for, or it might be harder than you expected.

If you had a bad experience with swimming, and you feel calm or happy while swimming in your dream, this suggests that something unexpected will bring you new purpose or a better sense of where you want to be in the future.

Dreaming of feeling terrified while swimming can mirror bad memories, in a dream where your repressed experiences come to the surface. 

In a dream like this, your subconscious is giving you a safe outlet to explore what happened to you, and to make it a little easier to cope, though you might not feel like it when you wake up. 

It may also be a nudge to process what happened to you better. Maybe you thought you were over it, and you’re not, or something in waking life has brought up similar negative feelings.

Objects in the Dream

Certain objects in your dream can also add to the meaning behind it. 

If you dream of a towel floating in the water around you, this indicates that though you want an aspect of your personality to stay hidden, it will surface despite your best efforts to stop it.

Or, while you feel you need a break from something you’re going through in waking life, now is the time to push on, as stopping and starting will make it much harder in the long run to keep going. You may find that it will be quicker to carry on, and you’ll feel much more capable at the end of it. 

If you dream of reaching for a towel, this reflects how you are looking for stability, validation, or comfort. You’ve been feeling unsteady, and you are looking for reassurance.

Dreaming of swimming goggles floating in the water beside you indicates that you have an interesting opportunity, which will allow everything to become clear if you handle it right. It suggests that something unexpected can be used to your advantage.

If you dream of a flotation device, this points to receiving welcome advice or assistance from someone you know and trust, which will help you in a difficult situation in waking life.

Dreaming of swimming in deep water and seeing a lighthouse in the distance symbolizes an unexpected chance which will have a profound effect on your sense of spirituality, should you take it. It can also point to someone unexpected who will help you see something more clearly.

A dream where you’re swimming in deep water and a boat rescues you implies that though the decisions you’ve made haven’t been easy, and there may have been a simpler way, your journey will be worth it. 

While you might want to give up in the near future on a project you’ve been working on for years, or a career or relationship, this dream is telling you that things may be about to shift.

Common Dreams About Swimming and What They Mean

Swimming in a River

Dreaming of swimming in a river suggests the pace of your day-to-day life is about to change. 

Exactly how it will shift depends on the current in the river within your dream, if it ran fast and tumbled over rocks, you’re likely to feel as though you’ve lost your footing in life, and this may be freeing, or overwhelming, depending on how you felt in the dream.

If you dream of drifting along a calm river (see also What Does A River Mean In Dreams?), you’ll soon get a chance to enjoy a period of calm and tranquility, where you’ll have the time to make plans for the future, or simply enjoy yourself.

Feeling uneasy in a dream of a slow river implies that you need to learn to adapt to a different pace of life, whether that’s asserting more control over your life, or refraining from trying to control everything.

Swimming in a Glass Pool

A dream where you swim in a glass pool represents how you’ve gained a clearer perspective on things, particularly to do with yourself and your own emotions, although it’s a limited one.

Imagine swimming in a pool. It’s a good way of learning to swim, and it’s much less dangerous than swimming in a river or a sea, but it won’t really teach you how to judge tides, or currents, or how to keep safe in open water.

While this perspective has given you a better understanding of things as they stand right now, this point of view is too limited when looking ahead to the future, and you’ll need to be open to new ideas and possibilities, in order to see opportunities for what they are. 

Swimming Perfectly

If you dream of swimming perfectly, whether this is in a river, the sea, or a pool, this is a reassuring dream to have. It conveys the feeling of trusting yourself completely. 

You know exactly what you are capable of, how far you can push yourself before you get too overwhelmed, and you have faith that you’ll be able to make the right decisions at the right time in life.

If you dream of swimming without much effort, but this is something that you cannot do much of in waking life, this points to your aspirations for the future. You want to be the best version of yourself that you can be.

Swimming with Your Partner

A dream where you swim with your partner mirrors your relationship with them in your waking life. 

If the dream felt free and easy, and you enjoyed the time spent with your partner, not worrying about being in the water, this reflects a healthy relationship, where you can weather the bad stuff and focus on the good.

If you dream of swimming with your partner, and you struggle in the water, or your partner is struggling to swim, there will be an emotionally-charged situation within your future, if it hasn’t descended already. 

It will test your relationship with your partner, and exactly how much you trust them.

A dream of swimming with your partner can also point to a future situation which will either make your relationship stronger, or break it completely. 

Your connection with them will either deepen, or you’ll both struggle with a lot of conflict, and you’ll start to question whether your relationship is worth the tension, or not.

Swimming Toward Someone

If you dream of swimming toward a stranger, this refers to how you’re looking ahead to the future, and what kind of life you want to carve out for yourself. 

Dreaming of swimming toward a friend indicates that you long for a deeper connection with them, or you want to adopt more of the qualities you admire within that person.

A dream where you swim towards someone can also reveal how you are attracted to them, in a way you wouldn’t admit to in your waking life.

Struggling to Swim

If you dream of being unable to swim, or you find yourself too exhausted to swim, and the water is far too deep, this reflects feelings of overwhelming stress, anxiety, or exhaustion in waking life.

Your subconscious is telling you what you already know: you need a break. 

Swimming to Rescue Someone

The meaning behind a dream of swimming toward someone to rescue someone depends on the identity of the person in trouble.

If you dream of swimming to rescue a stranger, this person represents part of yourself that you feel is threatened, or you’re struggling to hold onto part of your life or personality that is changing rapidly.

Alternatively, if you don’t know the person, and you dream of swimming to save them, this suggests that you’ll soon meet someone who will change your perception of how the world works, and those dreams you thought were impossible will seem a little closer. 

Dreaming of swimming towards someone you know to rescue them can imply that you’ll soon enjoy an uptick in your fortune. You may come into some money, or you’ll find that problems are much easier to solve.

This dream may also mean that you are worried about this person, or you want them to remember you are there for them. Maybe it’s time to reach out.

Swimming in a Flood

If you dream of swimming in a flood, this means that a long, drawn-out project you’ve been working towards will encounter yet more difficulties, and despite your best efforts, you won’t be able to salvage it. 

Your hard work may go completely to waste and ignored, or you may be able to learn from the challenges which break the project. 

You’ll know by now that water represents feelings, and the flood can represent overwhelming emotion which will take a long time to process, and to regain any perspective on. 

It’s a mixed dream symbol, where this emotion can be equally positive as it can be negative. 

It may not be that a project might fail, maybe you’ll start a new chapter in your life, and you’ll wonder exactly what made you get so fortunate, so content. 

Either way, the emotions that a new situation will bring will be difficult to deal with at first, and you may need to refrain from making any significant decisions once it hits.

Swimming Competitively

Dreaming of swimming competitively refers to a desire to be part of a collaborative effort, where you feel vital to a common goal. You want the sense of purpose and community it would give you.

Alternatively, dreaming of swimming in a competition means that you are in tune with your intuition, your emotions, and the depths of your subconscious. 

While some decisions aren’t easy, you find it easier to make choices than others because you know yourself so well.

Swimming with Animals or Fish

Dreaming of swimming amongst fish, or animals in the sea indicates that the future has a lot of change in store for you. You’ll turn to the familiar to guide you.

Swimming alongside a whale in your dream represents how you need to pay attention to everything around you right now (see also Why Am I Dreaming Of A Killer Whale?). There’s something obvious that you’re missing.

If you dream of swimming with animals in a swimming pool, this suggests that you have an abundance of energy which is going to waste. You need to aim your sights a little higher, and go after your wildest dreams. 

Swimming in Liquid which isn’t Water

Swimming in liquid such as milk in your dream implies that you need to be careful. Your viewpoint or how you see things right now is biased, and cannot be trusted. An opinion you’ve formed about someone or something is wrong, and you should be careful how you approach something. 


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