see saw

How to float

learn to swim

2. How to float

Now that you’ve practiced and are comfortable with rhythmic breathing, you will move on to floating. The best way to swim is to let the water hold you and then move yourself through the water. A lot of people don’t swim that way. They swim to not sink. Lots of energy is wasted by them trying to stay afloat instead of moving forward.

Everyone can float. Don’t believe me? Stand in 4ft deep water. Slowly try to touch your toes. Your feet will come off the floor and you’ll float like a jelly fish. Floating doesn’t necessarily mean that your whole body is on top of the water. You could actually be floating in perfect balance a few inches below the water line. Then to get air you only need to move a little bit to breath.

see saw
Body balance

The body acts like a see saw in the water. You need to find the fulcrum point for your body. For a lot of people, the fulcrum is right below the rib cage. Just like a see saw, if you put weight on one side it goes down and the other side goes up.

Float on your back

Gently lay back onto your back with your hands over head, letting the water support you. Image if you are stretched out like superman flying, except you’re on your back. You might want to hold your breath when first practicing this drill since you don’t know if your head will go under the water.

Try and relax, letting the water do what it wants. What happens to your body? Some people will float like this immediately. Others legs will sink. If your legs sink, you can do 2 things. First, you can add weight to your upper body. In order to that you can lift your head up while squeezing your shoulder blades together.

This allows your upper body to sink more, while causing your legs to come up (like a see saw). Second, you can move your leg position. Trying spreading your legs farther apart or you can bend your knees, bring your heels to your butt. The bend in the knees, essentially,  makes your legs shorter. This reduces the leverage and weight on the bottom half of your body.

Float on your stomach

The see saw concept is the same whether you are on your stomach or back. Lay gently on the water face down in the superman position looking straight down into the pool, not forward. Try to be long and straight like an arrow. When first getting into superman position you might need to do a light flutter kick to help you get into position. Once you can float on you stomach, you can push off from the floor into a superman glide and see how long you can hold it.

While learning to float, you might want to hold your breath instead of exhaling in the water. This is just so that the air in your lungs will help you find the balance in the water quicker. Do this only until you get comfortable and relax.


photo credit: gcwest  joeshlabotnik

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