My 3yo dd went under the water in the sea...quickly scooped out again but she stepped off a little drop we didn't see so she got quite a fright and swallowed some water. Now she keeps saying she never wants to go to the beach again. We've been on about swimming lessons for ages but guilty of not having got around to it. Any advice on what to do to help her so she doesn't have an ongoing fear of the water?!
Just tell her that if you go to the beech she doesn't have to go in the water, bring a couple of washing up bowls and/or small inflatable paddling pool and fill up with sea water and let her play with toys on those. In your shoes I would just forget about going in the water for a while and be very gentle with her. Her reaction is completely normal.
Start going, especially to shallow warm pools. Don't force her in, show her how you can have fun in the water. I nearly drowned in ocean at age 2 (pulled out & given CPR). We lived on the beach, though, so would have been silly to hold a grudge against the water.