All ya land lovers!! Listen up and listen up good. This post is specially for people who either want to learn to swim but "do not have time" to do so, or are dead scared of getting in the water. One way or the other you will sometime in your life find yourself in water that is deeper than you can stand and breath in. And then instead of feeling 'If only I could swim' at that "drowning" moment, its better to know some basics.
Well, if getting rescued is all you care about, technically you don't need to know how to swim, you just need to float and not drink water around you, till someone gets to you and drags you to dry land. So here is the scenario, you just fell in water, what is the first thing you do? You reach out to the water surface and try to get your head out so that you can breath. Head first or feet first doesn't matter, whichever way you fall the general human tendency is to orient themselves so that their head is out. Now, while doing this people generally push the water up and down as if cycling in water and do the same with their hands, which is natural. The position of the body is upright at this point.
The first and most basic thing for "never-swam" people is NEVER try to stay upright. You always want to sleep on the water, like sleeping on a bed, looking up at the sky. That is your best bet at saving your life. Its like a small sheet of metal, if you keep it flat horizontal on the water surface its going to float but the moment you make it vertical... 20,000 fathoms awaits it.
This turning your body from vertical to horizontal is possible only if all your body parts work together. We will go in a body part sequence that is hydro-dynamically effective.
Your legs are a very unique part of your body, which if not used efficiently are going to drag you down. For one, your thighs are heavy and two, they are shaped so that they can easily submerge and go down if vertical. So the first part of your body that has to get up to the surface so that you can get into the sleeping position are your legs. To do this start moving both your legs up and down, like the pair of blades of a scissors. When doing this try and keep both your legs straight from your waist down and point your toes away from your body, so that even they are horizontal. This makes your feet act like flippers, helping you lift your legs up easily. It will be hard to keep your legs straight and at the same time move them up and down. So, bending your legs a bit in the knees is okay, but just a BIT. So how fast or how deep does the leg movement have to be? Well, until your legs are straight, your legs should move with a higher frequency, but a lower amplitude. So move them with an intermediate speed but not deep inside the water, just near the water surface.
As your legs start coming up, you have to push your HIPS and your STOMACH up, up above the water surface. Believe me its not at all hard. Push it up as if someone was poking you from the water below. Its every body-part for itself when you are in water. Just imagine... you are upright in the water, you started moving your legs like a scissor... they are coming up slowly... but they are only going to bring themselves up, the hips and stomach have to push themselves up, so that you attain a horizontal position.
As far as your hands are concerned, just skim them on the water surface, with your palm facing the water. Just like lying flat on snow and making a snow angel.
By now (looking sideways) nearly whole of your body has been rotated from being vertical to a horizontal position, but there is one more thing to remember. ALWAYS look up at the sky. Do not try to look what is in front of you, because that is going to bend your body and make it vertical again, pushing you down into the water.
That was a lot to remember up there, but it seems a lot because of the explanation. Its very simple even for a non-swimmer and anyone can float on their back in less than 15 seconds. Just remember these 3 points:
1. Keep both your legs straight and move them up and down like a pair of scissors.
2. As they start floating up, push your hips and your stomach up towards the sky.
3. Keeps moving your legs and maintain your hip and stomach position. No need to push hard now. Keep looking up.
Now that you are quite stably flat on water you are free to scream the hell out. Hopefully if someone nearby knows how to swim they might come to save you, unless all they too know is just to float!! Practicing this in a shallow 4ft pool won't harm you. Try it!
Well, now that you know a survivor skill do you feel like its okay to NOT know swimming? You will be missing out on an opportunity of a lifetime if you are thinking on that line! Because when you know how to swim, you don't only make sure you are confident in deep waters but also pose as a lifesaver to someone else who might be drowning. So think it out. You won't be much different than a doctor, the only other person who is a lifesaver and consequently at the same stature as god, to people who are in a helpless and agonizing situation, waiting for someone skillful to come and pull them out of deaths very own hands ;)
Keep Swimming!! \m/