What Swimming Dreams Mean

Did you swim underwater?Swimming dreams explored 

Are you having dreams about swimming? Did you dream of swimming in a pool or the ocean? Were you alone or with another person? Trying to interpret what it all means?

If the answer is yes, you’ve come to the right place. That’s because this page is all about swimming in dreams with insight you’ll get nowhere else.

Swimming in dreams interpreted

On this page, you will learn:

  • The meaning of water in dreams
  • What swimming dreams symbolize
  • What swimming against the current means
  • What swimming with the current means
  • The meaning of floating in the water
  • The best way to interpret cold water swimming dreams
  • How to assess river-related dreams
  • Dirty, murky water swimming dreams
  • The meaning of animals swimming in your dream
  • Backward swimming dreams
  • Why you dreamed about struggling to swim
  • Swimming with sharks in dreams
  • Dreams about swimming and drowning
  • Why never reach the shoreline in a dream
  • How to view dreams where you swim with clothes on
  • The meaning of swimming without clothes on
  • Interpreting dreams about swimming underwater
  • Resources for learning
I dreamed about swimming meaning
Your dreams about swimming analyzed

Swimming dreams specialist qualifications  

You may be wondering what qualifies me to write this article? Shoot, if I were you, I’d want to know.

Without taking up a lot of your time, I’ll quickly give you the highlights of my background to pen this piece.

  • I hold a Ph.D. in psychology.
  • I’m a licensed mental health counselor.
  • I’m a board-certified clinical hypnotherapist.
  • As an educator, I teach psychology courses in personality that touch on dream analysis and interpretation.
  • I’ve been studying dream content and meaning for over twenty years.
  • I hold a certificate in Jungian psychotherapy from the Zur Institute.

That last point I mentioned to you about Jungian psychotherapy is essential to know. Let me explain why.

Dream analysis and Carl Jung

Jungian psychology is based on the teachings of Carl Jung, a famous Swiss psychiatrist who worked with clients around dream material to help them better understand themselves and their lives.

It is through the lens of Jung’s work that we will explore your swimming dreams, coupled with bits of research designed to help you assemble an interpretive mosaic.

Here’s the hard truth – nobody can say for sure what a dream means. Subconscious analysis is a subjective process (at best) that contains many abstracts.

Towards the end of this piece, I’ll touch on this topic more and offer some suggestions for the future.

Let’s move on now and explore what those dreams about swimming could mean.

The meaning of water in dreams

There is no way to explore your swimming dream unless we first look at the role of water and what it symbolizes. In many cultures, water is considered sacred and symbolic of life.

An example of this can be found in the Lakota Native Indians who believe water is life (LaPier, 2017). To a lesser or greater degree, other tribes also hold this belief.

Did you know that water has special meaning in the bible? It sure does. Consider how water was used in the Old Testament to indicate troubled times (i.e., Noah’s Ark and the great flood).

But water was also used to symbolize salvation and rebirth. Examples can be found in the story of Jesus turning water into wine and the use of h20 by John the Baptist as part of Christian conversion rituals.

The main takeaway here is that when you see water in your dreams, particularly swimming dreams, there is an excellent chance it symbolizes one of three things:

1. A challenging emotional time

2. Life and rebirth

3. Renewal and new beginnings  

As you analyze your dreams, keep this in mind. You’ll want to contextualize the imagery you see against the backdrop of the three themes mentioned above.

Swimming in dreams – what it means

Whenever you dream of swimming, your subconscious mind is communicating action. The ancients tell us that water is a metaphor for emotions.

Therefore, the deeper the water, the more intense your feelings.

Believers in astrology hold that persons who are born under water signs are deep feelers. And so, if you are a Pisces man, swimming represents the conduit for your empathic skills.

Conversely, if you are a Scorpio man or a Cancer, the act of swimming symbolizes your ability to intuit the emotions of others.

But what if you aren’t a water sign? Does the act of swimming hold any meaning? The answer is yes.

Here are some of the common themes that apply about swim-based dreams:

  • You are moving towards a new life goal.
  • You are heading in the right direction.
  • Soon, significant changes are coming your way.
  • An internal struggle about a difficult life decision.
  • A desire to have a baby.
  • A subconscious indication that you will soon give birth.
  • An internal spiritual conflict.
  • Your mind’s need to relax and work through a challenging problem.
  • A desire to be free of a person, such as a lover, supervisor or situation.
what does it mean when you see yourself swimming in dreams
Dreams where you swim against current

What swimming against the current might mean 

Did your dream involve swimming against the current? Did you struggle as part of the dynamic? Was the experience physically exhausting?

What your dream might mean:

  • A subconscious indication you are making the right choice, but the process of change won’t be easy.
  • The symbolic representation of going against powerful forces.
  • A mental projection that you are working through a difficult but on-track with your goals. See this post on common goal setting mistakes for more insight.
  • An indication that the person you are dating is not the best match.
  • A subconscious tug to disclose your feelings to your crush. Visit this post to explore dreams about your crush revealed.

Dreams about swimming with the current

Did your dream involve you swimming with the current? Was the water fast moving? Did it seem like you were being swept away? Were you in control?

What this could mean:

  • An indication you are making the right choices.
  • A metaphoric affirmation that you will be OK.
  • A sign that big changes are quickly coming.
  • Your mind’s way of suggesting you are at risk of losing control over a given situation.
  • A gentle nudge from your subconscious to slow down.
  • The deep recesses of your mind telling you to avoid “making waves” and instead, “go with the flow”.

Floating in water dreams explained

Did you have a dream about floating in a body of water? Were you paddling around, not heading in any particular direction?

How this can be interpreted:

  • You feel stuck in a relationship or job.
  • A subconscious indication that you are just “going through the motions”.
  • A desire for change with uncertainty about how to proceed.
  • Boredom with some aspect of your life.
  • A desire to feel more challenged at work or in love.
a dream about being in cold water
Was the water cold?

Dreams about swimming in cold water

Could you tell the water you swam in was cold? Did it feel icy, making you shiver? Were you trying to get out of the water because it was too frigid?

Here’s what cold water dreams mean:

  • Your mind is trying to shock you out of a bad emotional state.
  • An indication that you are coming out of a depression. See this post on cold water swimming and depression.
  • A subconscious manifestation that your body temperature is too low.
  • A spiritual sign, according to the ancients, that someone dead is trying to communicate with you. Learn more in this post about dreams involving dead death.
  • A hint from your unconscious mind to increase your blood circulation.

What dreaming about swimming in a river means

Dreams about rivers hold special meaning because they signify change and renewal. In the general sense, they are about your ability to adapt and adjust to the times.

River dreams decoded:

  • An emotional cleansing after a breakup or the loss of a loved one.
  • A psychological or spiritual acknowledgment that you are heading in a new direction.
  • Emotional healing as part of a transition.
  • A sign of new beginnings in love or relationships.

What dirty, murky water swimming dreams mean

While dreaming, did you notice the water was murky? Did it look dirty? Was it difficult to see to the bottom?

What your dream could mean:

  • A lack of clarity about a situation or person.
  • Anxiety about where you are in life right now.
  • A subconscious indication that you don’t fit in.
  • Feeling overwhelmed by an emotional situation.
  • Concerns about someone you are romantically involved with.
  • Deeply held trust issues regarding a lover or family member.
swimming with someone dreams
Did you dream of swimming with someone?

What it means to dream about swimming with someone

Many people have dreams of swimming with another person. Usually, it is a close family member or friend.

These types of dreams are significant because they represent a relational bond.

Here’s what your dream could mean:

  • A deep and intense shared journey with the person you swam with.
  • Your mind’s physical projection of love for this person.
  • If you swam with a stranger, it could be a mental projection of your hidden shadow (the hidden self).
  • A longing to be with someone adventurous and exciting.

Swimming with animals in dreams explained

Did your swimming dream involve animals? Did you dream about fish? Was there just one animal or were there several? All of it matters because animals in dreams speak to your spiritual side.

What your dream might mean:

  • If you saw one animal, such as a bear or a wolf, it could be your spirit guide trying to communicate with you, according to Native Indians (Psychic Library , 2019).
  • The spirit of a deceased pet that has taken dream form to communicate with you in the here and now.
  • An indication that your decisions impact other types of life.
  • Confirmation from your subconscious that it is time to adopt a pet.
  • An animalistic part of your persona that you’ve been neglecting.
  • If you were swimming with rats, it could be about fears of being backstabbed. Learn about rats in dreams on this page.
Did a dog swim in your dream?

What does it mean when you dream of swimming backwards?

Were you involved in a dream where you were swimming backwards? Was this a difficult process or did you find it easy?

Regardless, backwards swimming is an unusual activity in a dream because it involves bilateral stimulation.

Here’s what your dream might mean:

  • Pent up anxiety about an unresolved issue.
  • A sense that you are going back in time or returning to a familiar place.
  • A cellular memory of yourself in the womb, swimming back against amniotic fluid.
  • A desire to push-back against an aspect of yourself that you are trying to control, such as anger or impatience.
  • A subconscious coping mechanism for fear.

Dreams about struggling to swim

You may have had a dream where it was difficult to swim. If this is the case, it may speak to an intra-psychic conflict about an important life relationship.

What this dream might mean:

  • An unresolved conflict with a family member.
  • Worries about your use and abuse of alcohol. Learn more in this post about how alcohol can make depression worse.
  • An aspect of your sexuality that you’ve denied.
  • Challenges in school or worries about passing a class.
  • An indication that the person you are romantically interested in is a bad match.
dreaming about a shark
Sharks swimming in the ocean

What do sharks in dreams mean?

Did your dream involve sharks? See on in a pool? Were you attacked while treading water in the ocean?

While there are numerous reasons for this type of imagery to appear in the subconscious, it is critical to remember that sharks generally symbolize fear.

Here is what your dream might mean:

  • Concerns about the future.
  • Fears about someone out to do you harm.
  • Anxiety about a future trip involving water.

For more information on this topic, read this extensive post about what sharks mean in dreams.

Dreams about drowning

Drowning dreams can be super terrifying. If you had this type of dream, you might have awoken confused and gasping for air.

In many cases, these kinds of dreams speak to past trauma. Specifically, I’m talking about something from your childhood that was emotionally and psychologically scarring.

What your drowning dream might mean:

  • A mental replay of a life-threatening event from early childhood.
  • A phobia around closed spaces where you can’t breathe.
  • Thantophobia that speaks to your fears about death, dying, and dead people. Learn more in this post about what dreaming about the meaning of dead people in dreams.
  • A subconscious fear of water, also known as aquaphobia.
  • The subconscious mind replaying the moments before you first breathed air into your lungs (remember, they were filled with fluid until it was expelled).
Woman taking a swim in a dream
Did you see yourself doing laps?

Dreams about never reaching the shoreline

Your dream may have involved you swimming in the ocean or a lake towards the shore. Did you notice that you never made it to the shore?

In psychological terms, there are several possible metaphors.

Possible interpretations include:

  • A goal that is almost in reach but not yet complete.
  • An indication from the subconscious that someone or something is out of reach.
  • An aspect of yourself that you’ve neglected and not sure how to nurture.
  • A romantic interest that you are secretly crushing on who is emotionally unavailable.
  • Some part of yourself that feels dissatisfied sexually.
  • Unfinished business from the past, such as not being able to say goodbye to a person who has died.
  • A feeling that you’ve left something important undone and now it’s too late to fix.

Swimming with clothes on versus swimming unclothed

Some people have vivid dreams where they can recall what they were wearing. Others report bizarre dreams where swimming took place without clothes on.

Here’s what this could mean:

  • If you had pants on, it suggests an aspect of your sexual life feels inhibited.
  • If you had a shirt on, it might suggest an emotional disconnect from someone close.
  • Swimming without any clothing on symbolizes a sense of freedom from a person or an issue.
  • Dreams where you swim in your birthday suit also can represent freedom from guilt.

Swimming pools dreams explained

It is possible you had a dream involving a swimming pool. Should this be the case, you may have seen yourself doing laps or someone else swimming.

What’s interesting about these types of dreams is they are often reoccurring in nature.

What your dream might mean:

  • If you saw yourself swimming in a pool, it may relate to your spiritual side and feelings of renewal.
  • A psychological projection of the cleansing of your chakras. Learn more about chakra cleansing in this post.
  • Seeing another person swim in a pool, such as your child, could indicate a sense of independence.
  • Watching yourself doing laps in a pool may speak to your competitive side.
  • Seeing a dog swimming in a pool might relate to your sense of survival.

What swimming in the ocean means in dreams

Many people report having dreams of swimming in the sea. Most often, they see themselves in a vast of water with no land in sight.

Ocean themed dreams are not unusual and tend to be reoccurring in nature.

Here is what these types of dreams mean:

  • You may feel lost and confused about a specific life issue.
  • If you were on a boat and it sank, leaving you in the ocean all alone, it could speak to your deeply held fears of abandonment.
  • The mental projection of a complex problem that only you can resolve.
  • The unconscious mind returning you to the womb in a sea of amniotic fluid.

Dreams about swimming underwater

A lot of people have dreams of swimming underwater. If this happened to you, it is possible you envisioned yourself being able to breathe.

Almost always, these kinds of dreams are a sign of good luck and portend something wonderful for the future.

What your dream might mean:

  • The beginning of a new relationship.
  • The elimination of debt that once weighed you down.
  • A sexual change that gives you freedom.
  • An aspect of yourself that you’ve just begun to explore.
  • An echo from the spiritual world that you’ll soon be free of a heavy burden.
  • Your ability to receive a spiritual message from a higher power. Read this post on how to receive spiritual guidance.
dreams about swimming against the current
Understanding dreams where you swim

How to understand swimming dreams

One of the things I recommend to dreamers is to keep a diary. It doesn’t have to be fancy. A simple notepad and pen will do just fine.

Your goal should be to look for themes. An example might be seeing yourself being chased in a dream or hiding. Have you had other dreams of this nature? If so, jot these things down and look for patterns.

As time goes on and you put together your subconscious puzzle, you’ll be able to better analyze. The crucial thing to remember is that the subconscious works on its own timetable. Patience is key here.

Finally, I highly recommend picking up a dream symbolism book. You can get these from several specialty shops or online. I personally like The Complete Dictionary of Dreams by Lennox. Visit Amazon for price.

The content of your dreams matters. Carl Jung is credited with the saying, what you resist persists.

In terms of dream analysis, his words make a lot of sense. Is your mind trying to tell you something? If so, what do you think it means?

By studying the symbols and imagery you see in things like swimming dreams, you can learn a lot about yourself.

Have you dreamed about swimming? Feel free to share in the comments section below.


LaPier, R. (2017, March 21). Why is water sacred to Native Americans? Retrieved from The Conversation: http://theconversation.com/why-is-water-sacred-to-native-americans-74732

Psychic Library . (2019). Animal spirit guides. Retrieved from The Psychic Library: http://psychiclibrary.com/beyondBooks/animal-spirit-guides/

Photo Credits: Pexels

About John D. Moore 391 Articles
Dr. John Moore is a licensed counselor and Editor-in-Chief of Guy Counseling. A journalist and blogger, he writes about a variety of topics related to wellness. His interests include technology, outdoor activities, science, and men's health. Check out his show --> The Men's Self Help Podcast