What Does It Mean to Dream of Swimming?

Dream of Swimming

Swimming can be a fun activity in waking life. You might enjoy it in your dream too.

A swimming dream, however, can also mean you are working hard to solve important problems.

Swimming Dream Summary

Swimming Dream Symbolism

A dream of swimming symbolizes that you are actively engaged with the symbolism of water, which includes emotions and the unconscious. The emotional atmosphere of your dream will show whether you find this overwhelming or cleansing.

Your swimming dream can show whether you are getting support from the power of your emotions and your unconscious, or whether you are warring against them.

It is also relevant to the interpretation of your swimming dream where you are swimming. Swimming in a place that has boundaries, like a swimming pool or a lake, can symbolize that you are exploring the unconscious in a contained way that has some protection against things getting too far out of control.

Swimming in the ocean, however, can symbolize the potential for being overwhelmed by emotional or unconscious content.

Common Swimming Dreams

  1. Dream of swimming in water
  2. Dream of falling into water
  3. Dream of swimming in the ocean
  4. Dream of swimming with sharks in the ocean
  5. Dream of a swimming pool
  6. Dream of sharks in a swimming pool
  7. Dream of swimming in a lake
  8. Dream of swimming in a river
  9. Dream of swimming underwater
  10. Dream of urinating while swimming
  11. Dream of swimming in an athletic competition
  12. Dream of swimming in something other than water

Swimming Dream Symbolism

Swimming Dream Symbolism

Emotions and the Unconscious

Swimming is most commonly done in water, so the symbolism of swimming overlaps substantially with the symbolism of water. As discussed in Dream about Water – Interpretation & Meaning, the symbolism of water includes emotions and the unconscious.

Water can be dangerous, and similarly emotions can be scary when they seem out of control. When you delve deeply into your emotional reactions, however, you can often find a thought process underlying them that you can engage with. This is an example of probing your unconscious.

Cleansing

Dreaming of swimming in water can symbolize that you are being cleansed. Though swimming is not as intentional a way of getting clean as taking a bath is, you generally do feel cleaner after a good swim.

A swimming dream can therefore be a good omen after you have been involved in a situation that feels dirty in some way. You can recover, even if you have to make an effort to do so.

Being Overwhelmed

To say that you are swimming in something can mean that you are overwhelmed. Dreaming of swimming can therefore symbolize that you are overwhelmed by work or by some other situation in your life.

A swimming dream that symbolized feeling overwhelmed would likely have other content suggesting that. Maybe it would involve fleeing a shipwreck or otherwise having to swim for your life, struggling not to drown.

Dream about Water – Interpretation & Meaning discusses the symbolism of drowning in water in more detail. In general, a dream of swimming where you drown or feel like you could drown shows that things in your life have gotten out of control, and you do not feel that you have the support you need from others.

Abundance

To say that you are swimming in something can also mean that you have a large quantity of it, and this can be a good thing if you have a large quantity of something you want. Swimming in a playful way in your dream could symbolize this sense of abundance.

Common Swimming Dreams

Dream of swimming in water

swimming in water

In general, dreaming of swimming in water means you are directly engaging with the symbolism of water, like emotions and the unconscious. Swimming is a physically demanding activity, so dreaming of swimming in water, especially in an aggressive way, signifies that you are proactively confronting whatever is troubling you in the realm of your emotions or your unconscious.

Water-based exercises including swimming, however, are sometimes recommended for people who have arthritis, CreakyJoints reports. This is because exercising in the water does not impact joints in the way running or walking on land does.

In this sense, a dream where swimming in water feels easy could symbolize that you are supported by your environment in reaching your goals. It could also symbolize that you are using the power of your emotions or your understanding of your unconscious to help you solve your problems.

Dreaming of swimming in clear blue water generally suggests that you will be able to see a solution for whatever problems you are dealing with. Dreaming of swimming in dirty or murky water, however, symbolizes that your path will be harder.

Dream of falling into water

falling into water

Dreaming of falling into water can symbolize that you have landed in a situation that heaps heavy burdens on you. Whether the provocation is a new school or a new job or new family responsibilities – and whether or not you had any idea going in that the situation would be this challenging – you feel like you have to either sink or swim.

Well, did you sink, or did you swim in your dream? How well you handle the challenge in your dream can be an omen of your prognosis in your waking life.

Alternately, a dream of falling into water could symbolize that emotional needs you have been trying to evade, whether those emotional needs are yours or someone else’s, are finally catching up to you and demanding to be addressed.

Dream of swimming in the ocean

swimming in the ocean

If you dream of swimming in the ocean, do you feel up to the challenge? Swimming in the ocean is dangerous even for expert swimmers.

Dreaming of swimming in the ocean can therefore symbolize that you are overwhelmed by a dangerous or burdensome situation in your waking life. How well you are staying afloat in the dream can symbolize how well you are able to keep up with what is being demanded of you in your waking life.

The difficult situation this dream symbolizes could have a component of you or someone else having strong emotions that are wildly out of control. You could be desperate to placate someone, feeling that they are capable of unleashing a destructive tsunami at any moment.

Dream of swimming with sharks in the ocean

swimming with sharks in the ocean

If you dream of swimming with sharks in the ocean, this could definitely symbolize that whatever you are dealing with in your waking life has crossed the line from burdensome into outright dangerous. If your problem were the ocean alone, it could be one of those bad situations that is not necessarily anybody’s fault.

When sharks get involved, however, you feel like someone is specifically out to get you.

Alternately, if you menstruate, dreaming of sharks in the ocean could symbolize that you will get your period soon. The phrase “Shark Week” can be used to refer to the time that you are bleeding, as though you had been bitten by a shark.

Dream of a swimming pool

a swimming pool

In general, a swimming pool has clear boundaries in a way that natural bodies of water like rivers or the ocean do not. Dreams about pools therefore express the dangerous symbolism of water, which includes hard-to-manage emotions and the unconscious, in a way that makes it safer and more manageable. There is the sense that someone is in control of things.

Swimming pools are only safer water, though; there may be no entirely safe water. Dreams about drowning in a pool unfortunately include a possibility that is realistic in waking life. If you have such a dream, and you have a swimming pool in your own backyard, it may be wise to do a safety check on your pool.

Whether private or public, swimming pools typically involve people coming together to swim. Dreaming of drowning in a swimming pool can therefore symbolize that you feel let down by the people around you, especially if there were bystanders while you or someone else drowned in your dream.

Dream of sharks in a swimming pool

sharks in a swimming pool

Dreams about sharks in a swimming pool are less likely to have a tether in waking life events than other dreams involving swimming pools, as generally quite a bit would have to go wrong for a shark to wind up in a swimming pool in waking life. To interpret this dream, it might be relevant to consider who owns the swimming pool in your dream.

If the shark-infested pool in your dream is a public swimming pool run by a city government or the like, you might feel that society in general is failing to protect you from predators in your midst. Your community might have a toxic culture enabling bad behavior, and that is really the bigger problem than whatever individual happens to be playing the role of shark in this moment.

If you dream of sharks in the swimming pool at a specific person’s house, you might feel that that person is running with a bad crowd.

Dream of swimming in a lake

swimming in a lake

A lake is similar to a swimming pool in that it has water within defined boundaries, though a lake may be fed or drained by a river. Dreaming of a lake can therefore, like dreaming of a swimming pool, be an example of safer water, where the potential dangers of water are contained somewhat by the lake having boundaries.

If there is too little movement in the water of a lake, however, the lake can become stagnant. Stagnant water can then become full of bacteria and parasites that can cause illness to humans.

It is therefore relevant to the interpretation of your dream of a lake how clean the water seemed to be. If you dreamed of swimming in a lake where the water seemed fresh, your dream could symbolize that you have a reasonably safe environment for exploring your emotional issues or unconscious motivations.

If you dreamed of swimming in a dirty or stagnant lake, however, this could symbolize that your emotional life has become toxic due to lack of contact with the outside world. You have been holding your stuff in for too long, and perhaps you also hold outdated assumptions that are helping it fester into something awful.

Dream of swimming in a river

swimming in a river

Rivers typically have a clear direction from one place to another, so dreaming of swimming in a river could symbolize that you are trying to go somewhere in your life.

Are you going with the flow, or are you swimming against the current? Answering this question in regards to your dream of swimming in a river could make an obvious statement about how you feel like your path in life is going.

If you dream of swimming with the flow, you may be a little bit passive in your life, but you may also see it as a rational view that following society’s structures makes your life easier.

If you dream of swimming against the current, however, you may feel it is worthwhile to follow your own path no matter what the cost. You could also be rebelling for the sake of rebelling in a way that doesn’t really serve you.

If you are trying to swim across the river in your dream, from one bank to the other, this could symbolize that you are trying to unite two things in your life that are currently separate from each other.

If you dream about swimming in a river with someone else, is that someone you know in waking life? If so, it could mean you and that person, or some quality that person represents to you, are cooperating to make progress in your life together.

If the person you are swimming with is not anyone you know in waking life, it could symbolize that you are not alone in your journey, even if you feel alone at the time.

Dream of swimming underwater

swimming underwater

Dreaming of swimming underwater is reminiscent of the atmosphere of the womb. The cover for Nirvana’s Nevermind album, which features a photo of a baby underwater, evokes this imagery.

To dream of swimming underwater therefore symbolizes that you are going deep into your unconscious. Being underwater in pool dreams may at least give some containment to your quest, as a womb does. Being underwater in a natural body of water, however, shows that you are open to searching without limits.

Dream of urinating while swimming

Yes, water dreams can have all sorts of deep symbolic meanings, but it is also very common for your bladder to fill up while you are sleeping, and sometimes seeing a lot of water in your dream just means you need to pee. A dream of urinating while swimming, or feeling tempted to urinate while swimming, could definitely have this simple explanation.

Dreaming of urinating in a swimming pool could symbolize that you feel tempted to rebel against the structures of society. You might also fear getting caught doing something you know you are not supposed to be doing.

Dreaming of urinating while swimming in a natural body of water like a river or the ocean could symbolize that you feel united with nature.

Dream of swimming in an athletic competition

swimming in an athletic competition

If you regularly swim in athletic competitions in your waking life, dreaming of this may just be processing your routine activities. If you don’t, however, you should probably look at the dream symbolically.

If you’re swimming in water, you are actively engaging with the things water symbolizes, like emotions or the unconscious. Competing in this realm could therefore symbolize a situation where emotions have become a competition, like the spoils will go to whoever throws the biggest tantrum.

Alternately, you could be competing with someone else in your life in a way that you are unconscious of. For example, you might be acting in a way that does not serve your best interests, and the reason is that you are trying to prove a point to some other person, even though you may not be entirely aware of this motivation yourself.

Dream of swimming in something other than water

If you dream of swimming in something other than water, like pudding or feces, this could symbolize that you feel held back by obstacles in your path. If you feel dirtier rather than cleaner after swimming in something unusual, this could symbolize that you are trying to resolve emotional issues, but the people you are trying to resolve them with are not equipped to work with you in any way that is productive.

Conclusion

In waking life, going for a swim can be a strong physical workout, even if it doesn’t feel as hard on your joints as running might.

Going for a swim in your dream can also be evidence that you are hard at work engaging with the emotional and unconscious side of your life. Like water in waking life can make swimming seem easier than it is, dreaming takes some of the weight out of this difficult task.

Eva Sylwester

Eva Sylwester has been fascinated with the interpretation of dreams since middle school. She got a B.A. in psychology and religious studies from the University of Oregon in 2007. After that, she began exploring astrology and other new frontiers in spirituality. In her approach, the goal of dream interpretation is to help the dreamer articulate their own intuition. She lives in Eugene, Oregon, United States.

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