Learning to Relax in the Water
Your body can float in the water. Your lungs are full of air, which basically turns you into a human-shaped floaty toy. So why do people sink when they fall in the water? Because they don’t relax.
If your body is relaxed, you will float up to the surface of the water. But, of course, when you fall into the water the immediate response is panic and fear, which makes it really hard to relax. Fortunately, there is a simple exercise you can do to get good at relaxing in the water. It’s called the Dead Man’s Float.
Learning the Dead Man’s Float
The Dead Man’s Float is done on your stomach, facing the bottom of the pool, while your body floats on the top of the surface of the water and your back is exposed to the air.
Start by standing or crouching in the pool (depending on how deep it is), with your shoulders at the surface of the water. Take a deep breath, tuck your chin to your chest, and put your face in the water. Slowly let your body relax. Your hips should start floating up to the surface of the water. Your legs will probably still dangle, and that is fine.
Now move your arms above your head, in line with your body, so that your hands are slightly under the surface of the water. This should move your legs up closer to the surface of the water. As you relax, your body will float in a straighter line at the surface of the water.
The more you practice the Dead Man’s Float, the better you will get at relaxing your body on command in the water. This will make it easier to swim, since you will not have extra tension in your body, and it will also make it easier to relax and keep calm if you are ever in an emergency situation in the water.