Not Only For Beginners

Now that you have had some time to practice getting used to the water

It is time we start focusing on floating in a proper body position.

However, don't neglect the other exercises if you still have some troubles.

Be patient and success will come.

When floating or swimming the head should be in a neutral position.

By neutral, I mean ears just below the surface of the water and your eyes face the bottom of the pool.

The back of your head is barely dry or even slightly submerged and your suit is right at the surface.

It could help you if you think of your body as a vessel where your core goes from the midsection of your chest to the place right below your hips and your entire body is well-balanced right at the surface.

If your head is in a negative position, your chin is tucked on your chest and all the water is flowing way over your head (NOT GOOD), just relax your neck and your head will float.

If in a positive position the water is hitting you on your hairline or your forehead and your legs are sinking (VERY BAD).

Always repeat to yourself, eyes to the bottom of the pool, eyes to the bottom of the pool or press the chest down.

It can help if you pretend like you are watching your shadow on the pool floor below you.

streamlined body by jayhem
streamlined body by jayhem

You can practice getting into the neutral position by performing so-called dead man's float.

I know, I know, it sounds a bit morbid, but read on.

It is a great exercise which will make you swim faster when you master it.

It is at this point that we need to realize that not everyone will float well right from the start, but the majority of us will float eventually (for example women float better than men, more muscular individuals float a bit less, etc.).

So if you are not the lucky floater, you will just have to work that much harder to learn this skill.

Without further ado, let's start to float like a dead man:  

  • Take a deep breath, put your head in a negative position (chin on the chest), be vertical, let your arms down toward your hips and relax - as if you were dead. You can imagine your hands are in your pockets (you will have your feet dangling almost straight to the bottom
  • Very slowly ease your shoulders, arms, and hands into the streamline position (position where your arms will reach forward as if above your head - try to reach with both hands for an apple on a tree).
  • Your head should now be in the neutral position, with the back of the head right above the surface (even right below the surface), ears under the surface and eyes facing the bottom of the pool.  
  • Do not have any movement in your dangling feet or legs (if done correctly, your hips/legs should rise a little)
  • Allow for the hips and legs to ease themselves towards the surface. Play with the lower back muscles and your core to help them a little.
  • Make sure you do not raise your arms out of the water though, they should rest right below the surface
  • You should maintain a constant pressure down with the upper part of your body, especially your chest and your armpits. This should help with getting the legs a bit higher.

If done correctly, your hips and legs should rise even higher to the surface.

In an ideal situation, your body is a vessel floating right at the surface.

Some of you will find yourselves laying on the surface of the water.

This is brilliant, well done.

Some of you will have your feet still dangling down, however, they should be higher than they originally were.

Well done as well.

Don't worry though, if your feet are not right at the surface, this could be changed by practicing more and more and learning to relax more and more.

You probably ask yourselves.

Wow, why is it that my feet are rising.

keep your body as a teetertotter
Your body is like a seesaw in the water

Well, it is simple.

Your body acts like a teeter-totter (seesaw) with your hips being the axis.

Once you get the head in a neutral position then stretch the shoulders, arms, and hands in the streamlined position right at the surface, you are adding more weight on one side of the teeter-totter/seesaw, so your legs will automatically rise up.

This is why maintaining the constant pressure down with your chest and armpits is very important to keep the legs afloat.

Safe the seesaw image above to your memory if you don't remember it from your younger days :) and next time when you working out in your pool, envision you are a seesaw.

Swim Advice Topics

How Will Dead Man's Float Make You A Faster Swimmer is part of the following categories: Freestyle and is meant for swimmers in: Level 2 - Beginner, Level 1 - Novice

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Comments (20)

LOOZERkid. said...
me encanta el nado, lastima que aca en chile solo sea amateur.

practico y e ganado competencias

me gustaria lo profesional

saludos BUEN BLOG
Shawnee said...
I wanted to know how often you update your blog.

I took swimming lessons last summer and have been practicing at the local pool. My problem is that I only know backstroke and free style and am terrified of deep water and treading. I would like to build up the courage to dive someday. I also want to learn how to navigate my body under the water. Since I am a novice, are there any things I can be doing to help work up the nerve to do more advanced things. Also, there is a master's swim program at my club, but I am embarassed about the level in which I will be starting.
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Click here to learn who is the greatest said...
I have too much muscle to float.
R2K said...
What is the world record for swimming distance?
goldwinggary said...
This is the best blog I`ve came across so far. Very well done, and put togeter brilliantly... I will be back often and click on some ads for your pocket book...
Paulo said...
Very nice series of articles, I hope that you'll continue with this!

I'm looking forward to test it myself.
libor said...
Thanks so much for all your kind words about the blog and the content. I do my best to update regularly (biweekly, monthly :)), however, some months are more hectic then others with my work, so don't get as much time to update as I'd like to.

To answer your questions:
1. World record for swimming distance? - I have no clue and doubt there is one as it would basically borderline a death of a person :). However, I think there are more world records in swimming from places to places in certain times etc. Try search for more info.

2. Too much muscle to float? - Well, that is normal. Most men have that problem, especially in the legs :). You will just have to compensate with kicking more and relaxation. (practice makes perfect). Remember that straight line is what makes you not sink (be like a tree log)

3. Trying masters swimming? - don't be embarassed. Everyone starts somewhere and look at it more from this perspective: How many people out there can say, I swim on a team on a regular basis, it keeps me fit and I love it. Swim on, don't let your level of swimming stop you.

Keep on, keepin' on.
Anonymous said...
i would like to learn more about the drills for kids,i am swimming coach for kids
Anonymous said...
Hi...its been just 2 days since i started my swimming classes. I am 27 and was told that it'l be difficult to learn compared to others. is that true?

Do u think 8 classes (weekends only) are not enough to get me to swim?

Also does body wieght matter?
libor said...
There is never too late to start to learn how to swim. If you have the dedication, patience and some body control, you can do it. Of course, the older you are the longer it takes, but at 27 you are still very young, so should be perfectly fine.

You can learn to swim in 8 classes, however, it really is dependent on how fast you can learn. After 8 classes you should have enough knowledge of swimming that you can improve on your own.

Weight does not really matter in swimming. If you are very muscular you will not float as well as if you have some fatty tissue, but otherwise most people float regardless.
hi, my name is moses, i tarted swmming lessons less than a week ago. still iam afraid of the vdeep end.
libor said...
Hi moses, thanks for sharing your swimming experience. The important thing is that you learn how to float before you venture out to the deep end. After you float comfortably, floating in deep end is the same as floating in shallow end as the water is the same, so there is no reason to be afraid. You can always sink all the way to the bottom and push back up to the surface from the floor of the pool (if you happen to sink).
Cindy said...
Hi just read your blog. you have some good tips. In response to the person that asked about the number of lessons needed to learn to swim. My husband and I are both 43 and we learned to swim in three days! The lessons were one hour long and we were taught the basics and we can swim. Neither of us had ANY swimming instruction prior to our lessons. Our daughters had a week of instruction prior to our lessons and my husband observed two days and I watched our daughters five days. We had a great instructor needless to say. My husband was able to jump from the diving board on the deep end and swim almost the length of the pool at the end of the third day!!
libor said...
@ Cindy: thanks for sharing your experience. Well done for learning to swim in such a short time. Hats off to you and your husband. For everyone else, please note that Cindy and her husband are an exception to the rule. The time it takes to learn to swim is very individualistic, so don't assume it will take you 3 days as well. However as you can see it is possible :).
Anonymous said...
Actually children find it harder, but they don't complain. Especially if they have something wrong with their bones they have to really try. Stop whining.
Anonymous said...
This is THE BEST blog I have ever read on swimming..the way you explained is just like we are watching a youtube movie - so vivid, clear & accurate..I love it!
WIFan said...
I'm 45 and am a total beginner. The instructor says I'm too tense but I don't know how to relax. Floating has eluded me thus far and I'm at lesson 4 :(!
Libor J said...
Hi WIFan, thanks for your comment. There are a few things you can do to help with the tension. For example, you can practice in warm water, so your body naturally relaxes or start only in a shallow end by blowing bubbles and going underwater to get used to the feeling or in a kids pool where is about a foot of water, so when you float, you can touch with your hands on the bottom of the pool. Hope this helps a little.
colin said...
Frankie says relax my friend - well said

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