Floating is an essential building block of swimming — whether you want to swim for leisure or competition, you need to know how to float! 

Today we’re sharing our top tips for getting comfortable floating on your stomach and your back. 

First Steps

Before we get started, Keep a few things in mind:

  • Safety First: Make sure you’re swimming in a pool with a lifeguard. Stay in an area of the pool where you can stand. Safety and supervision are very important when you’re learning to swim!
  • Take it Slow: If you’re new to swimming, don’t rush yourself. Take your time and only move forward with new skills when you feel comfortable.
  • Relax: You’ll have a hard time floating if you’re tense. Get in the water and loosen up! Take a few deep breaths and get started when you’re ready.

Related: 10 Beginner Swim Tips for Adults

How to Float on Your Stomach

Step 1: Blow Bubbles Out Your Nose

Blowing bubbles may not seem like it’ll help with floating, but trust us: it’s important! 

To blow bubbles out your nose, try humming with your face in the water. Gently exhale and you should see some bubbles! Practice this a few times while standing in the shallow end of the pool or holding onto the wall.

With swimming in general, you shouldn’t hold your breath, but rather exhale underwater before bringing your head up to breathe. Blowing bubbles helps with that!

Step 2: Arm Position

Next, we’ll work on hand position while floating. Begin standing in the water with your arms extended. Start sweeping your arms side to side, like you’re frosting a giant cake! This motion is called sculling and will help you maintain position while floating.

Related: Sculling Drills to Improve Your Feel of the Water

Once you’re comfortable here, lower your face into the water and blow bubbles for 5 seconds. Lift your head up, catch your breath and repeat, keeping your feet on the ground.

Step 3: Lift One Foot

Once you’re comfortable with step 2, try the same 5-seconds of bubble blowing, but lift one leg off the bottom of the pool. 

Step 4: Lift Both Feet

Next, try blowing bubbles and lifting both feet up! Work on keeping your hips up toward the surface of the water, and keeping your head looking straight down. 

You may find that when you try this, you start to sink. That’s due to 2 factors:

  • Air is leaving your body. When your lungs are full of air, you float! As you exhale, you’ll sink a little bit.
  • You aren’t making forward progress. As you get better at swimming, you’ll be able to combat sinking by moving your body forward.

Related: How to Breathe When Swimming Freestyle

Step 5: Push Off the Wall

Ready to put it all together? Try pushing off the wall and floating! To start, stand near the pool wall. Start humming, drop your face into the water and push off the wall with your legs, keeping your arms overhead. 

If you like, you can start sculling with your arms and lightly kicking with your legs. To catch your breath, simply push down with your hands to lift your body up.

How to Float on Your Back

Some people find that floating on their back is easier than floating on their stomach. We recommend practicing both!

Step 1: Lean Back

Keeping your feet on the bottom of the pool, begin to lean back, to the point where your ears are in the water. Start sculling with your hands to maintain position.

Work on driving your hips and belly button up to the sky, and keep your eyes looking straight up — if you look toward your toes, your hips will drop to the bottom of the pool!

Step 2: Lift Your Legs

Just like we did on our stomach, slowly practice lifting one leg, and then both legs, maintaining good body position the whole time. 

Step 3: Lift Your Hands Above Your Head

For extra balance, try lifting your hands above your head. This helps distribute your body weight more evenly in the water, and may make it easier for you to float!

Step 4: Push Off the Wall

Once you’re comfortable floating on your back, let’s try adding some momentum! Start facing the wall. Lean back, pressing your hips to the sky and your feet into the wall. Float, raising your arms overhead. Push with your legs and glide! It may help to kick lightly.

Related: How to Swim Freestyle with Perfect Technique

To lift yourself back up, simply look toward your toes and plant your feet on the bottom of the pool!

Taking Your First Stroke

After practicing floating and pushing off the wall, it’s time to try taking your first freestyle stroke! 

  • Step 1: Push off the wall. Just like you’ve been practicing!
  • Step 2: Start kicking. Keep your arms overhead!
  • Step 3: Take a freestyle stroke. Pull one arm down by your side and lift it out of the water, returning to the starting position. Repeat on the other side!

Remember: Learning to swim takes time, so stay disciplined and stick to your goals! The hard work will pay off. For more swimming tips and technique videos, download the MySwimPro app and subscribe to our YouTube channel!

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