So you don’t know how to swim? No big deal, because we are here to help you.
Swimming is a great form of exercise. The water cradles your body and takes the strain off your joints, making it enjoyable for anyone who suffers from pain, and also great for anyone who does not. It gives you fantastic cardio, it tones your muscles, it helps with weight-loss, and it may just save your life.
Yes, learning to swim can save your life.
Most people live within driving distance of a body of water. This does not need to be the ocean or a sea; it can be a lake or a pond. If you ever find yourself in the water, and you cannot swim, then your life could be in danger. If you find someone else struggling in the water, then being able to swim can save someone else’s life. Swimming is a basic survival skill which everyone should know and practice.
The skill of swimming also helps you to enjoy life more, especially if you are interested in water sports. If you want to go scuba diving or snorkeling, then you had better know how to swim. If you fancy yourself as a surfer or paddle boarder, then swimming is essential. Even a day at the beach is more pleasurable with an afternoon dip in the cool water.
Swimming can only make your life better.
Yet, there are many who cannot. The exciting news is that learning to swim is easy and achievable for anyone. With a little time and a little practice, you can be confidently gliding through the water in no time.
Get in the water
It may sound silly, but before you start learning to swim, you need to get acquainted with the water. I would recommend visiting your local swimming pool if you have one close by to you. If you do not, then find some shallow and calm water, and take a friend with you just in case (most swimming pools have lifeguards).
Take your bathing suit, goggles, nose guard, ear plugs, or anything else you may need before you get into the water. Take the time to just get in the water and enjoy how it feels around you. The main skill you need to attain before you begin to learn to swim is to have your head underwater.
Find some calm, shallow water which is almost up to your neck.
Start by wearing goggles, and placing your face under the water. Have a look around with your goggles on and practice blowing air out through your nose to clear any water in there. Come back to the surface and enjoy how that felt. Repeat this a few time to get more confidence in having your face under the water.
Once you have mastered that, try putting your whole head under the water. The main feeling of discomfort you could have is water in your ears. If you have earplugs, then you will not notice, but I would recommend trying it without unless you have sensitive ears or ears which are prone to infection.
Place your entire head under the water and experience how the water feels in your ears and around your head. Once you come back to the surface, tilt your head to each side to release the water from your ears. You may need to shake your head a little to get the water out. Repeat this as many times as you wish, until you feel confident having your head under the water.
You are doing great! Now, onto the next step.
Once you have mastered putting your head under the water, you need to master the art of treading water. All swimmers should know how to tread water. There may come a time where even the most competent swimmer bites off more than they can chew and run out of energy. Perhaps they are in a spectacular lake and are swimming from one end to the other. They are almost in the middle when they begin to lose energy. They cannot keep going, so they tread water instead to rest.
Treading water involves you staying in one place (more or less), with your body vertical in the water. You gently use your arms and legs to keep your head above the water. For a person who is learning to swim, this is a good skill to have, just in case you panic and are not sure what to do next. You can tread water to calm yourself before you move on.
To practice treading water, move into an area of your pool (or another body of water), and extend your arms out to each side. You are going to alternate between flapping your arms and kicking your legs.
Firstly, have your palms facing down and your fingers together. Push your arms down until your arms are by your side. While you are doing this, you can lift your legs up off the bottom of the pool. As you feel yourself being pushed upwards in the water, bend your knees and lift your legs up towards your body.
As your arms reach your body, you will begin your second movement. Kick your legs out and downward, like a frog. While you are doing this, move your arms up your body and then back out to the extended position. When you kick your feet down, you should try not to hit the bottom of the pool as you can.
The first time doing this, you may find that you kick and flap sporadically or quickly. The more you practice, the smoother your motions will get, and the slower the rhythm you will need to keep your head above water. Once you can do this for at least 30 seconds, move out to a deeper part of the pool, by holding onto the wall or having a friend come with you. Practice making the same motion in a part of the pool where your feet do not touch the water. Practice until you can do this for 60 seconds.
You are amazing! Keep going.
Now, that you can tread water, we are going to try floating on your back. Everyone has a natural buoyancy, and if you spread out your arms and legs, you will find a calming experience floating on your back.
To do this, first practice in a shallow part of the pool, where you can place your feet down on the bottom if needed. Start by placing one hand on the wall or having a friend hold under your back. You want to slowly lift up your legs and open them, while spreading your arms so that your body is in the star-position. Once you feel yourself floating, let go of the wall or have your friend let go of you.
Enjoy the calm feeling as you stare up at the interesting pool roof (or amazing blue sky, if you are outside). There is not much to practice with this skill, just know that you can do it, should you find yourself in a position that you need to.
Awesome work! Shall we start swimming?
We are going to start with the lower body. Mastering kicks, is easier than your arm motions, so that is where we are going to start. Find a place in the pool where the water is shallow, but not too shallow. Your feet should be able to touch the bottom. Place your hands on the wall and extend your arms, so you are standing back from the wall. Lift your body in the water, so that your hands are holding the wall, and your body is parallel. Your feet should be parallel behind you.
You are going to practice flutter kicks. With a flutter kick, you alternate between kicking with your left leg and kicking with your right. These kicks are controlled by your hips, knees, and ankles. When you kick, your leg goes down, but your foot pushes the water backward.
Strat with whichever leg you choose. Point your toes and kick your leg down. You can use your knee to help with the sharp movement. You are not kicking your leg down a lot, only enough for you to feel the kick moving you forward. Keep your toes pointed so that your foot is angled to push the water back.
As you bring this leg back up, repeat the motion with the other leg. One should always be kicking down, and the other should always be returning up. Make sure to never break the water with your feet. Both your feet should remain below the surface and not splash the water.
Practice with your feet at different angles, different rhythms, bends, etc. Find the motion which gives the most push forward. You may be using muscles which you have not used before, so if you need to rest, then make sure to do so. The more you practice kicking, the more you will build up your muscles.
Once you feel confident with your kick, find a kickboard to hold onto (and a life jacket if you wish), and practice kicking your way from one side of the pool to the next, while holding the kickboard to keep your upper body afloat. As you progress with your kicks, you can place your face in the water too as you move across the pool.
You are going great!
Now that you have mastered the flutter kick, you should master the whip kick too. This will give you some options and variety when it comes to mastering different swimming strokes.
Start in the same position as you did with the flutter kick, with your hands on the wall and your body horizontal in the water. The whip kick is the same frog-like kick you did while treading water.
Bend your knees and move them out from the sides of your body, while keeping your legs parallel to your body. The initial movement of bringing them into this bent position is slow and fluid. It is when you thrust them back that you generate the power. Thrust both legs back at the same time until they are back in their original position (legs together and horizontal in the water). You should feel yourself being pushed forward.
Repeat the motion until you are confident that the kick can propel you through the water, and then use a kickboard to try it. Propel yourself from one side of the pool to the other. Once you have mastered the kick, switch between the two kicks as you do each length of the pool.
Amazing! Way to go!
We all know that swimming is a combination of arm and leg movements (and if you didn’t, well, you do now). There are many different swim strokes you can learn, and if you want to master them all, then I would suggest signing up for swim lessons to get the benefit of a coach. In the remainder of this article, I am going to teach you the two most popular strokes: freestyle and breaststroke.
Freestyle stroke is the most popular stroke and will propel you through the water quickest. It is also a stroke which will help you get out to the waves if you want to try surfing. Breaststroke is a slower stroke. It is great for relaxing exercise, and it is also a great stroke for moving underwater (making it perfect for use with your dive computer watch).
Freestyle stroke is also known as front crawl, and that is essentially what you will be doing. You will be using your arms to drag yourself through the water.
The very first motion in freestyle is to throw your arm forward, then down into the water in front of you. Your hand should be cupped as if you are trying to hold water, but with your palm facing down as it enters the water. Your arm should enter the water when it is fully extended. Your arm should not be angled, to the side, at the shoulder. The side of your body, all the way up to your hand, should form a straight line.
Now imagine a line under the water, just below your hand, and running to just below your shoulder and then carrying on behind your shoulder. Keeping your hand cupped, you should draw your hand back along that line. This motion will draw you forward through the water.
Once your arm is fully extended backward, pull your forearm forward by bending your elbow and then lift your arm out of the water to begin the stroke again. As you are pulling your arm back through the water to propel yourself, the opposite arm should be thrusting forward to create an alternating stroke.
Freestyle stroke should be combined with the flutter kick. You can practice just the arm movements for a while, but adding the kids will help to push you through the water and keep your head above the surface.
When it comes to breathing, this is a stroke where your face should be in the water. The key is to turn your head to the side when you are pulling through the water with the arm on that side. You should take a quick breath in and then breath out when your face is back in the water again. You may want to take a quick breath every stroke or every couple of strokes.
You can practice this stroke with a lifejacket on to keep you buoyant, but it is important that you try it without the lifejacket as soon as you can. The more you practice this stroke, the better you will get.
The breaststroke is a calm and perhaps easier stroke than the freestyle stroke. When you do the breaststroke, you are going to move both arms simultaneously. You are also going to use the whip kick (or frog kick) in conjunction with this stroke.
To do this stroke, start with your palms together, and your fingers pointed. Your fingers should be together and not spread. You are going to thrust both your hands forward until your hands are fully extended.
Turn your hands so that they are facing away from each other and cup them slightly. Now push your hands away from each other and continue to move them in that direction so that they draw a circular path, in opposite directions, from in front of you to the side of you. You can bend your elbows as you do this.
Once your arms are behind you, draw them in and move them underneath your body and back into the starting position. Repeat the motion while you kick. You should alternate between your arms and your legs. While your arms are getting back into position, your leg motion should be propelling you through the water, and vice-versa.
To breath with this stroke, you can start by moving slow and keep your head above the water. As you speed up, keep your face in the water, and come up to breathe as you pull your arms back through the water.
How to improve your technique
There are many things which you can do to improve your swimming technique once you have mastered the basics of the strokes.
The better your cardio, the more you will be able to swim. Swimming is good cardio, so the more you swim, the better you will get. Jogging and biking will also help.
Swimming uses a lot of muscles, especially your core. Try to find other workouts which focus on your core, to give you better strength when you are swimming.
Control your breathing while you are swimming. If you get out of breath, then you will have to stop swimming. If you do not take in enough oxygen, then you will not have enough energy in your body to complete your strokes. Find a good balance between your head being in the water, and it being out to take a breath. If you can keep the same breathing rhythm, your swimming will improve.
Take small steps. Swimming in a pool is a lot different to swimming in the ocean or a lake. Make sure to perfect your stroke in a pool before you go out to swim in a natural body of water. Make sure to ease yourself into the water, as it will be colder than what you are used to. Start in the shallows and practice swimming there before you move onto deeper (and probably colder) water.
If you have only recently learned to swim, then always take a friend (who can swim) with you when you are swimming outdoors for the first few times. The combination of the cold, unknown, weedy, or different waters, can cause anyone to lose focus. For advanced swimmers you can check our article for swim fins and active swimsuits.
The most important thing, though, is to have fun. And lots of it.
Globo Surf Overview
You can see from our guide, that it is not very hard to learn to swim. It does not matter how old you are; if you follow our instructions, and try hard while you do, you can learn a basic swim stroke in under an hour. All that is left to do after that is practice.
Swimming is a fun activity which opens up a whole new world to you. From exercising in a pool to diving down deep under the water, swimming can open your world to new experiences and water sports. It is great for your body, your lungs, and your hearts.
Swimming is a life skill and a survival skill. If you are near a body of water, there is always a chance of danger. If you were to fall in, or someone else was to fall in, swimming gives you the ability to save your own life or save someone else’s.
Swimming is also a peaceful and relaxing activity. There is nothing better than swimming in a mountain lake, enjoying the beauty of nature or taking a dip in the ocean on a hot summer’s day. Take the time to learn to swim, and you will never regret it. I can promise you that.