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Learn How To Swim 101 – Back Float Part 3 - Learn How To Float

Learning How To Float is Sometimes The Opposite

New swimmers often have a problem with sinking legs when they are learning to back float. However, the cause is sometimes the opposite of what you might think.

The Tricks Of The Back Float As You Learn How To Swim

If your legs are still sinking after you have tried the suggestions from the previous learn how to float on your back post try lifting your hands out like this:

Image of a Back Float On An Angle With Hands Up Out Of The Water To Correct
Back Floating On An Angle Hands Up To Correct
If that helps but not enough try doing the reverse of what I said in the previous post and put your head like this:

Image Of a Back Float Done Correctly With Hands Up And Head Up
Back Floating Correctly With Hands Up And Head Up
The other thing you can try is to push your hips toward the surface of the water. I explain how to do this to my swimming students by telling them to "squeeze the cheeks of your buttocks together and push your legs under the water". Like this:

Image Of A Back Float Done Correctly With Arms Under
Back Floating Correctly With arms Under
Not like this:

Image Of A Back Float Done With Legs Bent Incorrectly
Back Floating Legs Bent Incorrectly

The closer your hips are to the surface the easier the float will be.

The final thing that can be wrong is often not recognized by the swimmer trying to learn back floating. It's having your knees bent and out of the water.  Like this:

Image Of A Back Float Done With Knees Bent Incorrectly
Back Floating Knees Bent Incorrectly
Some people can actually float this way. But it doesn't help your learning to swim and will affect your swimming later on.

So before you decided to move on to the next stage of your learning to swim ask someone to look at your back float. Get them to tell you where they see your body parts in the water. Get them to tell you if they think you are streamlined or not.

Next time we will begin talking about Backstrokes.

By the way, you can now get my step by step guide from this link called: "Back Float Swimming for Adults"



  1. Mr. Roper,

    first thank you very much for the wonderful blog, there are a number of meticulously written articles here.

    I have a couple of questions and would like to know if you have any suggestions since I would like to put in more productive hours at the pool. I will try to be as succinct as possible:

    1. Floating face down: my legs sink as I try to float and I am on an incline on the pool; doesn't matter if I just go face down or kick off. I am told its just because I am all muscle (5' 8" 145lb), but I somehow cannot fathom no buoyancy in legs at all. I would like to be able to get a feel of this and would appreciate any suggestions on this and if any drills could improve this. Does this have any affect on kicking?

    2. I don't know if this is related to above, but I run out of breath really soon while kicking.

    a)If I start kicking only keeping a streamline, things are fine till the first exhale, once I do that I somehow lose composure and then I have to stand up gasping for air. I am an athlete and am used to taking quick exhale inhale breaths during sprinting. Is that a factor here?

    b) Even if I am using a kickboard, things are ok till the first breath and then after that no matter how hard I kick I am at the same place. I have to stand up, push off and kick again.

    Any suggestions will be greatly appreciated since I love being at the pool (took me 20 years to step into a pool :) and I would hate to walk away from it since I cannot swim a stretch without gasping (literally, no exageration here) for air every 5-10 seconds.

    I also understand that this is not a personal help blog, so if this takes too much of your time, I apologize; but any comments will be greatly greatly appreciated.

    thanks a bunch again,

    best regards,

  2. G'day gizzmo,
    I actually don't mind helping out but it's going to be a bit hard without and email address. If anybody sends me and email address I don't publish it but I do store it for future direct communication.

    What I will do however is take you concerns and try and address them over a few blog posts. I think that would be educational for all of us.

    However please understand that it is quite difficult to pinpoint problems in swimming activity unless I am there, so there will be some assumptions that I have to make. Hopefully you will understand what I mean when I try to explain and you can feed back to me.

    This may take a while however.


  3. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  4. G'day gizzmo,

    I published your reply and then I thought better of it as you had your email address attached. In any case it is a better post. You can find it, along with my reply at: http://www.swimteaching.com/2009/11/freestyle-breathing-learning-to-float.html