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How To Keep Your Bearings Doing Survival Backstroke

Don't Lose Your Way With Survival Backstroke

For those of you who take the time and I highly recommend that you do, to learn survival backstroke a question that often comes up is "how do you keep your bearings?" You are going backwards and looking up toward the sky. It's no good preserving energy and heat if you do nothing but go around in circles when you have a different objective in mind.

Wait... Get Your Lesson Plans Here

The short answer is that you look. I don't wish to make this kind like a "duh" statement because just looking is not necessarily as simple as it sounds when you are is a life saving situation.

When I teach my students basic rescue skills one of the things that I emphasize over and over again is that you have to tell the person you are helping exactly what to do. I mean step by step.

Because when panic sets in people who may normally be brilliant become stupid.

That is not to say they are stupid and you would Never accuse them of such but in a state of panic the simplest and most obvious things such as grabbing the flotations device that is immediately in front of you becomes incomprehensible.

So "grab the life jacket, pull it close to your chest, lay on your back" are perfectly reasonable instructions to a panicked swimmer.


So what I'm saying is practice looking, now when you are not panicked, looking where you want to go, find a land mark and line up with it. This will stand you in good stead in a real situation.

This is the same as any other stroke in open water. You may remember Peter one of my Adult Learn to swim Students, he was telling me the other day that when he is doing backstroke at the beach he lines himself up between two lamp posts on the shore and keeps between them.

Image of girl doing survival Backstroke, one of the survival strokes
Survival Backstroke:
One Of The Survival Strokes
Of course a survival situation is a bit different in that your objective may not be to get anywhere in particular because you may be out of sight of land. This will make your objective to keep as warm as possible and as visible as possible till rescue arrives. Being visible could mean staying close to large floating objects and this may mean that survival back stroke is not much use to you.

But should you be injured and needing to get somewhere or even needing to get somewhere but near exhaustion has set in, then survival backstroke comes into it's own. Trust me, even the best of us will have trouble with 3 miles or even 3 kilometers, if we are suffering from stress or the fatigue of an emergency situation. And Loosing your bearings is so much more easy when you are tired or injured or fatigued or panicked.

So folks, practice looking.

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