Floating is one of the most important water skills you can learn. Knowing how to float can literally save your life. Of course, floating isn’t always the easiest thing to do for some people. Some people are natural floaters, while others are more naturally prone to sinking. So what is it that makes the difference?
A Matter of Density
Science rules the day when it comes to floating. The reason why anyone or anything floats in the first place is because the density of the water that is displaced by a person or object is greater than the density of the object itself. In the case of people, those who have higher body fat percentages will generally find it easier to float. This is because fat is less dense than muscle and bone, which means that the body as a whole is less dense than the water that is displaced. People who have lower body fat percentages will find it more difficult to float since their bodies are more dense.
Mind Over Matter
There’s an element of mental control that comes into play when trying to float. If you’re someone who isn’t generally comfortable in the water, you may find that floating is more of a challenge. This is because of what being tense or nervous tends to do to your breathing. People who are uncomfortable tend to breathe more shallowly, which means you have less air in your lungs at any given point. Again, this ties into density. Think of your lungs as two big balloons. The more air you have in your lungs, the less dense your body becomes as a whole, which means it will be easier to float.
A Lifesaving Alternative
The vast majority of people are able to float to some degree. If you’re someone who struggles with floating or one of the few people who just aren’t able to because your body density is too high, there is an alternative: treading water. Treading water will help you keep your head above the water and more or less in one place. It’s a valuable skill to learn regardless of your ability to float, but it’s especially important to learn for those who can’t.
When it comes to essential water skills you need to learn, learning to float should be at the top of your list. When all’s said and done, most people can learn to float. It may just take some people more work and practice than others. Remember, you can always get extra private lessons at SwimJim if you need some extra help to develop your floating skills.
Floating isn’t the only life saving skill you learn at SwimJim. You’ll also learn to tread water. Click here to learn about some of the basics of treading water to start getting familiar with it.