Not Able To Float

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"I have attended three classes and however much I try, I am not able to float. My Legs just don't come up and float.  I was told to relax them.  I tried. Still not working!..  Is it because I am thin and short? My friend who joined with me easily glides through water now.  She is much taller and healthier than me and very easily floats.  I have no idea what to do! help?"

Mark's answer:

The simple fact is that some people are not able to float, but some people float without even trying.  Clearly you do not float - but that DOES NOT mean you cannot swim.  

Most professional swimmers are, like you, natural sinkers.  They use the support of the water to keep them at the surface as they swim.  You too can do the same.

FREE EBOOK:  the top 4 best floating exercises are shown in my book 'How To Float', along with the top 4 tips that will stop you sinking as you swim

Don't miss out!  Click here to grab a FREE copy of my book. 

Why am I not able to float?

Generally speaking people that are muscular, lean or thin will tend to sink and those that have a wider surface area or a larger body fat percentage will usually remain afloat for longer.  It's all down to your 'relative density' and that is most likely the reason you are not able to float. 

Click here to see a video that explains RELATIVE DENSITY and a page that shows some great exercises to help learn how to float

What Can I Do About It?

There are some great exercises to try out in the pool that will help you to learn how your body behaves in the water and discover your level of buoyancy.  Exercises include:

  • prone (face down) floating
  • push and glide from the poolside
  • push and glide, adding kicks
  • supine (face up) push and glide

Click here to find these exercises explained in more detail.

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    Remember, floating in a stationary position in the water and staying afloat whilst swimming, are two completely different things.  Most people are not able to float in one place, but everyone can float as they swim.  There are some very important aspects of swimming that need to be addressed if you are going to stay at the water surface. 

    They are:

    • learning how to submerge
    • learning to hold your breath and breathe out in the water
    • how to relax
    • how to glide

    Click here for more information about these key swimming skills.

    Then it’s a case of using your arms and legs to move along through the water.  Before you know it you will be remaining afloat at the surface of the water whilst you swim.  Job done!

    It is the power and momentum that is generated from your arm pulls and leg kicks that bring about your movement through the water and therefore your ability to remain at the water surface.

    So, stop trying to float in a static position and get on with using your arms and legs to learn a swimming stroke!  Before you know it you will be a happy and confident swimmer.

    Need some support with learning to stay afloat?

    Still think you are not able to float?  My book 'The Complete Beginners Guide To Swimming' will show you exactly how to glide, breathe and relax.  Then it will show you how to master the technique needed to swim the four basic strokes.

    The most important swimming tips for beginners plus a whole lot more


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    Which swimming stroke to learn first?

    Basic front crawl technique for beginners
    Basic breaststroke technique for beginners.
    Basic backstroke technique for beginners.
    Basic butterfly stroke technique for beginners.

    Click on a stroke from more details

    Beginners learning to swim breaststroke will find floating easier than those learning to swim front crawl.

    This is because the arm and leg movements of breaststroke are wider and therefore cover a larger surface area of water, making it easier to remain there.  The body position for breaststroke is angled so that the leg kick can occur slightly deeper under the water, favouring those of us that tend to sink.

    Front crawl however is a more streamlined stroke and therefore has a longer and more narrow shape. This makes it more difficult, especially for the legs, to stay up near the surface as they kick. 

    A relaxed and flowing front crawl leg kick is essential to keep the legs up near the surface. A faster, harder and more forceful kick will almost certainly result in the legs sinking quicker.

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