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The Basics of Swimming

In: People

Submitted By marcjohnson
Words 761
Pages 4
Let go of your fear. A lot of people put off learning how to swim because they're afraid of drowning. While drownings do occur, most of them could have been prevented by simple safety measures. Follow these guidelines whenever you're swimming, and the odds of drowning will decrease dramatically:
• Never swim alone. Always go swimming with one other person who is a strong swimmer, if not several other people.
• Don't start out swimming in moving water. If you're learning to swim in an ocean or river, you'll need to be more aware of the motion of the water. If you must learn to swim this way, try to make sure you're with someone who knows what he or she is doing, and be sure to read the step about getting out of a riptide or a rushing river (below).
• Stay within a depth you can handle. When you're first learning how to swim, don't venture into water that's too deep for you to stand in. That way, if something goes amiss, you can simply stand up and breathe.
• Never swim during inclement weather conditions. Swimming in a light rain shower should be fine, but if you see or hear a storm approaching, get out of the water immediately. This rule is to be followed regardless of how well you can swim.
• Don't swim in water that's too cold. Moving your limbs to paddle can become suddenly difficult if you're in frigid water.
Get used to floating. When you're in the water, hold on to the side of the pool or a dock, and let your legs float out behind you - they should lift easily if you let them. Practice doing this on your stomach and on your back, until you're use to letting half of your body float.
• Try floating on your back or your stomach as soon as you're ready. Stay in a shallow depth so that you can simply stand up if it's not working out. It might feel weird to have water around your ears while your nose and mouth are in the air, but you'll get used to it. For extra stability, put out your arms at a right angle so that your body is in a "T" shape.
Always remember that you have a fallback if you're in an unmanageable depth or you simply can't move your limbs - floating on your back. Don't flail around or start breathing quickly if you can't swim; simply lie back as flat as you can, and let the water carry you while you regain your composure.
Practice exhaling underwater. While you're still in a shallow depth, take a deep breath and put your face underwater. Slowly exhale out your nose until you're out of breath, then come back up.
• If you're uncomfortable exhaling through your nose, you can hold it closed or wear a nose plug and exhale through your mouth.
Learn how to do a crawl. Crawls are great strokes to learn as a beginner, and they'll move you pretty quickly. Here's how to do them:
• Try a backstroke first. Float flat on your back, and do a flutter kick with your legs. With your arms, do the "crawl" motion, lifting one arm straight into the air and keeping it straight as it re-enters the water next to your head. Once it's underwater, bend it to bring it back to a straight position next to your side, and repeat. Alternate arms as you swim, and try to keep your fingers together and your hands as flat as possible.
• Try a front stroke (also known as a freestyle or American crawl). Floating on your stomach, do a flutter kick with your legs and use your arms to "crawl" forward. Bring one arm out of the water so that it's "reaching" forward, then bring it back down and use your cupped hand to "push" the water behind you. Alternate arms. To breathe, turn your head to one side under the arm that's currently crawling, lifting enough for you to take a breath. Take a breath under the same arm each time, so that you're breathing once every two strokes.

Tread water. Treading water can help you catch your breath and keep your head up without actually swimming. Do the eggbeater kick listed above, and use your hands to keep your balance by "sculling" - keep your forearms flat on the surface of the water, and imagine they're butter knives spreading on a piece of toast. Move one arm in a clockwise circle, and the other arm in a counterclockwise circle.

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