How to Float for Swimming
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How to Float for Swimming


Everyone can, and should, learn how to float in water. Knowing how to float can save your life, and it’s the first step in learning how to swim freestyle. It may seem daunting, or downright impossible, but the first thing you have to do is believe that you can float.

The next step is to find an instructor. If you're afraid of the water they will give you the confidence to overcome your initial fears and help you relax in the water, while in a safe environment.

Flotation Features of Your Body

Let’s start with a basic principle of physics: anything with a higher density than water will sink in water. The human body is, by weight, roughly two-thirds water. This means your density is similar to that of water. Therefore, you shouldn’t have to do much, if any, work to float on top of the water.

That said, your body composition can affect your natural ability to float. Very generally speaking, men tend to have greater muscle density than women. People with greater muscle density, or very lean muscle (a very low ratio of fat to muscle fiber), will have a greater tendency to sink. So, if you are young, a man, or a very athletic woman, good mechanics and technique will help you a lot. Nevertheless, your body still wants to float more than it wants to sink.

Your lung capacity can also make a difference in how easy it is for you to stay on top of the water. People with a higher lung capacity will float somewhat more easily, for two reasons. First, they have a larger pocket of air in their chest. And second, they tend to have more oxygen circulating throughout their bodies. Oxygen is less dense than water, so the more oxygen you have in your body, the more buoyant you will be.

Now that you know why your body might be more or less inclined to float, here are three ways you can improve the way you float in water.

Relax

The key to floating is, ironically, a major challenge for beginners: You have to relax. As soon as you master this, you will be able to “swim.”

Practice in shallow water until you have confidence in your natural ability to float and get your face used to being in the water as this is another factor that can add to your fears.

If you can float, but you’re still tense, notice your breathing pattern. Deep breathing is not only scientifically proven to help your body relax, but it will also bring more oxygen into your body, which should make you more buoyant.

Look at the sky (or the ceiling if you're indoors), and breathe in deeply. Fill your lungs with oxygen on each breath – feel the air travel all the way down to the lower end of your lungs (near the bottom of your rib cage). Hold your breath for a short moment and feel yourself essentially weightless atop the water. Exhale and repeat.

Improve Your Float Mechanics

Slowly relax back into the water allowing your shoulders and head to recline as if lying down in bed. Small movements of your hands will allow you to stay face up with your mouth and nose out of the water, and continue to breathe naturally.

If your legs always sink, you can either reach your hands above your head or push off slightly from the bottom. 

By reaching your arms above your head, you are creating a longer support above your waist, which gives you more leverage for lifting your legs up to the surface. At the very least, it will bring your legs higher in water.

Strengthen Your Technique

Engage your abdominal muscles. Use your core strength to lift your lower body toward the surface. You might think about a string attached to your belly button that is pulling your torso to the top of the water. The link between your mind and your body is powerful. If you can simply imagine the string pulling your belly and your feet to the surface of the water, your muscles will probably organize themselves and make it happen!

Kick very gently. Don’t kick so hard that you have forward momentum. But very light and gentle, alternating leg movements will help force them to the surface and keep you balanced. Of course, as you do this, stay relaxed. Mehtodical small movements with your hands and feet will help keep you stablilized and close to the surface of the water. You will notice if you do not move your legs they have the inclination to sink to the bottom.

Enjoy The Weightlessness

Once you have relaxed and are floating on your back take a moment to enjoy the feeling of the water holding up and the easing of pressure off joints and muscles. For extended periods of floating you can use a pool noodle to help support you under your shoulders or knees. These should be used as aides to float and not relied upon competely to keep you afloat.

 

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imani
1 month ago.
I can't float
swimoutlet.com
1 month ago.
The key is to relax your body, this will help you float! Remember to take your time and use flotation devices like a kickboard if needed.
Sbongile
3 months ago.
I'm 37yrs old, I once experienced neardrowning when I was 14yrs n woke up in hospital. Years later Im teaching myself to swim since I have a pool in my house. Wish I could send u the video of my 1st attempt. I want to learn swim on top of water (threading I guess) than under, as I have to hold my breath for a whole lap when under n it's not comfortable. Or at least learn to come up inhale go back exhale under etc. Please assist. Loved this article, gonna try tips given here.
ayoola
3 months ago.
i cant float a friend kept teaching me but just cant do it i think its because i am fat please help me
Swimoutlet.com
3 months ago.
Hello Ayoola,
As mentioned above, people with greater muscle density, or very lean muscle (a very low ratio of fat to muscle fiber), will have a greater tendency to sink. So we can assure that it doesn't play much into your body weight/fat. More than likely you are not relaxing since this is something new to you. Try to relax your muscles starting in the shallow end of a pool so you can feel a little more secure. We hope this helps.
Alexander
4 months ago.
am Alexander n I really wanna learn swimming the tutorials are really encouraging and I cnt wait to gv it a try on a practical form
hans updeskirt
4 months ago.
i am a 40 year old male, recently my wife DIED from drowning, so at her funeral, i promised myself that i would learn some fun tricks in the water!! i am having some troubles but thankfully, this article SAVED MY LIFE. thanks babe, pls give me a follow on Facebook, my user is mike hunt.
Robin
5 months ago.
Hi, I've already mastered (pretty much) floating on my back but how do you float in a vertical way? Ive seen people do it and i dont understand how, it would be nice if you explained it for me. Thanks for reading and i hope to hear from you soon!
Swimoutlet.com
5 months ago.
Hello Robin!
We have another guide that specifically goes into detail on how to tread water. You can view it here: https://www.swimoutlet.com/guides/how-to-tread-water
Rheem
5 months ago.
this is very helpful, i cant wait to try it, in my first lesson of swimming!
Jenna C
6 months ago.
Hello. My eleven year old daughter has a question.

Hi im Lucy im 11. I am very afraid of the water and I have tried for at least 7 hours to float but I cant. Ive tried steps all over the web. I cant relax in water, im very afraid of it. How do I become happy and not scared
SwimOutlet.com
6 months ago.
Hello Lucy,

You will want to take it really slow. I would recommend staying in the shallow end of the pool and slowly start to work on floating. Maybe even set some goals for each time in the pool. I would also recommend using a flotation device such as a life jacket to give you that extra comfort. Also, remember that it will take time to get over your fear of the water and for you to start relaxing when in it.
Jenna C
3 months ago.
Hi its Lucy again

Thank you for the tips so much, ill be sure to try them out :)
Mikala
6 months ago.
Add more pictures This is helpful
john kuriyan
7 months ago.
It would be more helpful if a video is uploaded with detailed step by step instructions.
buystander
7 months ago.
I need more details but this did help me. Thankyou for your time and help.--
Swimoutlet.com
7 months ago.
Hello!
If you have specific questions we are more than happy to answer them for you!
James
7 months ago.
Hi! I was told that my bones are naturally more dense and that is the reason why I have never been able to float or tread water. Should I give up trying or is there something more I should learn?
emmanuel
7 months ago.
please help me with how to move your legs when swimming thanks
Swimoutlet.com
7 months ago.
Hello Emmanuel!
You want your legs to be straight, your toes pointed and you want to move them up and down. When your right leg is up, your left leg should be down. Imagine running with your legs straight.
Nani
8 months ago.
I am learning swimming, attended 5 lessons. I can let go of kick board and float on front but realized I'm very nervous to stand mid swim. The feeling of not able to grab on something like a pole when standing makes me nervous.....
Swimoutlet.com
7 months ago.
Hello Nani,
Utilizing the kick board to rest your arms on while standing may help with this nervousness. You can lean into it and place your feet on the ground until you feel like you have your footing. I hope this helps!
Give tip
9 months ago.
My body is not remai straight while swimming It drop down I can swim but body is not on water level it slants
swimoutlet.com
9 months ago.
Hello!
We suggest that you maybe try using a flotation device such as a kick board to put under the part of your body that is dropping down until you become more comfortable.
sachin
10 months ago.
Haii i am learning swimming last 4days,i am not afraid of water but i can't floating,in water..some tym i am floating, some time not possible,trainer said free the body..i dont no how to make free the body.please help..
SwimOutlet.com
9 months ago.
Hello!
The key is to relax your body, this will help you float! Remember to take your time and use flotation devices like a kickboard if needed. Good luck and let us know how it goes!
JP
1 year ago.
YO MAN! you just gotta be the leaf BE THE 100% WATER THAT YOU WERE MEANT TO BE BE FREE..
john
1 year ago.
i m 5'7 and i m 148Ibs. i can swim but can't float
Reimart
10 months ago.
I feel you bruh.
Glenn
1 year ago.
I'm 6'2, 160lbs, and have 4% body fat. I can slowly raise my legs, and extend my arms (both while slowly treading water), and voila, I'm floating and relaxed on top of the wate. The more you control your breathing, the more you figure out how much air you need to keep your nose and mouth above the water in order to breath. You have to be one with nature. Relax your soul.
Arun
1 year ago.
I'm trying to float in the water but i can't. I'm not getting what i've to do to float. If I ask with my trainer , he just says leave u r body free but I'm not getting how to leave so please help me .
diniel b1
1 year ago.
we are the same.. hi, im diniel
maano
1 year ago.
same with me ..i strugle
Ikram
8 months ago.
Lay on your back put your ears in the water chin up and very important keep your hips up!!!
Bill
7 months ago.
How can someone who has problems floating 1 be able to do that?
Big C. Hawk
1 year ago.
I tried this floating technique by relaxing, and I relaxed so much, that I ended up drowning. Never trying this again!
Jagadish Dube.
1 year ago.
Inhale maximum,Hold the breathe a comfortble time,exhale partially by
humming sounds only.Repeat till you achieve normall breathing.It may take 15 minutes. I am in facebook.
Abdullahi
1 year ago.
Add pics to elaborate your steps please.
wish
1 year ago.
I have started learning swimming..and today was my sixth class...I have learnt how to inhale and exhale breathing in water...but I am not able to float...I am literally not able to let go of my legs and let my body fload...I am not afraid of water...but I just cant...and with trainers help I easily float..but on my own..I just cant...I am too afraid to leave my legs float in water...due to which uptil now..I haven't learn. Please help me in this!!
swimoutlet.com
1 year ago.
Hi Wish,
I would suggest to practice your breathing to loosen any tension you may have and try to relax as much as possible to be able to float. Please follow the three tips listed above. These tips will really help!
wish
1 year ago.
thank's i wont give it a try
Dhow
1 year ago.
I am very muscular so I have been trying to float but doesn't work. I am just trying to get the technique down so use swimming as exercise but I keep sinking. Will a wetsuit help?
swimoutlet.com
1 year ago.
Hi Dhow,
A wet suit will provide buoyancy, but they are meant to be worn in mainly oceans because chlorinated pools will deteriorate the material. I'd suggest a Pull Buoy as this will help buoyancy. Check out the following guide for more detailed information:

http://www.swimoutlet.com/helpcenter/articles/204167464-How-to-Choose-a-Pull-Buoy

http://www.swimoutlet.com/helpcenter/articles/204342510-How-to-Use-a-Pull-Buoy

I hope this helps!
Liz
1 year ago.
Add more pictures This is helpful
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