How to Swim: Floating
Among the first things you’ll be taught in your swimming lessons is how to float. Once you learn how to float, you can learn any swimming style easily. This post is part of the how to swim series, and explains the science in floating.
Although our bodies may not naturally float in water, the correct posture will definitely help in bringing your body up. “Relax your body!” an impatient instructor will say every time your body sinks into the water, but will fail to guide you further. Positioning your head well in water ensures that your body is streamlined, and your legs come up. But there is a whole lot of physics on this, which I am sure you’ll find interesting.
Archimedes was the man responsible for advancing floating theories. When an object can displace as much water as it weighs, it will float. The hole-the total volume of an objects mass, should displace water of heavier weight. A ship of one ton will float in the ocean since it displaces water of as heavy weight. Increasing the volume of the ship, increases its hole, allowing it to float better and carry more weight.
Similarly, we need to increase the hole of our bodies, by covering as much surface area on the water and increasing buoyancy. This can be done in a number of ways. First is by breathing to increase the volume of the lungs. Breathing effectively enables us to carry more air in our lungs, which makes us more buoyant. Second is keeping your face in water, and the head at 90o with the floor of the pool. This way, you achieve streamline, which increases floating ability. Lastly is by kicking the legs, either in flutter or frog kicks.
So, by lifting your face out of water, your legs will tend to sink to the bottom. Similarly, tensing up the body will increase the density, and you’ll sink faster. So next time you hear ‘Relax!’ keep your face in water, consciously check whether your muscles are tense and free them up, and stretch your body into streamline. Try it. I know it works.
Take up any of our swimming classes to learn all of this and more.