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Swim and Survive Sequence

This survival swimming sequence combines many essential skills into one fun exercise and is also a good warm up training or fun activity for your swimming or lifesaving class.

Be aware that you may not have time to change into your swimwear in an emergency, hence you practice in clothes and get fit.

Notice how waterlogged clothes will slow your movements, but not pull you down. Water weighs nothing in water. Wet clothes only get heavy when you come out.

Dressed in swimwear, long pants, long-sleeved shirt and jumper, socks and shoes (optional), practice often the following sequence:

Enter shallow water in a safe manner

Slide in slowly, feet first. Don't dive in. Feel the ground with your feet. Stand up in the shallow water. Now wade in slowly until your shoulders get wet.

This simulates entry into unknown water. You may not know what is underwater, so be careful. Robust footwear is recommended.

Water Walk

From the shallow end walk four widths of the pool in a meandering pattern, progressing to neck-deep water. Then turn around and wade out, or swim to the deep end.

You can make this more interesting by putting benches along the pool floor. Make sure you use benches with rubber feet that don't scratch the tiles or slide on the pool floor.

Confidence Check

Try to sit on the bottom of the pool in chest deep water. Push yourself down and settle on the pool floor.

You may find this quite a tricky. The air in your lungs and any air pockets in your clothes will give you a lift.

Next try it with a waterproofed rucksack. Since this is not possible, you gain confidence in the buoyancy capabilities of your waterproofed rucksack.

Jump in and climb out for 1 minute

From the poolside jump into deep water and quickly climb out using the pool side, not the ladder. Make sure you stand up fully before you jump in again.

See how often you can jump in and climb out within 1 minute. Around 6 to 10 jumps per minute would be great.

This may be tough for some swimmers. You may think this should be easy, but it certainly pushes you a fair bit and gets your pulse racing.

The one minute time for this will feel like a long time as you get quickly exhausted and hope this will be over, but you still push on. Regular training will get you fit.

Underwater Swim

Dive in and swim 10 metres underwater to simulate an escape form a sinking boat surrounded by oil. Swim a further 40 metres as if escaping from danger.

Swimming underwater fully clothed may be somewhat hard to begin with. You should prepare for this in a supervised pool, maybe in light clothing first, then more later. Many people drown because they have never learned this.

Float or tread water for 5 minutes

Tread water using a circular leg movement. Wave occasionally as if signalling for help. Inflate your clothes for buoyancy which takes regular practice, but is good fun.

In a rescue situation you should stay in one place if possible, so that rescue teams can find you faster. Keep your group together.

Swim 200 metres

Sometimes you may have to swim a distance to save yourself. Switch to a different swimming stroke every 50 meters for optimum cross training.

Using different swimming strokes you may find front crawl almost as slow as breaststroke when fully clothed. Upgrade to 400 meters after a while.

Throw a rope over 10 metres

A time limit of 1 minute shall apply, commencing with an uncoiled and untangled rope lying at the feet of the rescuer and ending when the swimmer has grasped it.

Now pull the swimmer to the pool side, using the hand-over-hand technique.

Wade in and pull a partner with aid

Use a buoyant object or towel or item of clothing as an aid. Present it to your training partner and pull back to a point of safety.

The point of towing someone with an aid is to avoid direct contact for safety reasons. You don't want to be grabbed by a scared casualty.

Fit a lifevest while treading water

Swim 100 metres using survival strokes. Climb out of the water whilst wearing the lifevest. Learn how to use a lifevest. You may not have the time in a real emergency situation.

A proper lifevest (PFD) keeps your face out of the water. A person floating with nose and mouth below the waterline has a harder time getting air than one whose face is kept out of the water.

Reader Comment

More Muscle Strength

We run this survival swimming sequence about once a week in our swimming team. It is our most popular training because it's great fun and builds a lot of muscle strength if done regularly.

The beginners swim in shorts and swim shirts until they are fit enough to upgrade to more kit. This usually takes two or three swim sessions. Then they use jeans or jogging suits to build up strength.

Some of our stronger swimmers do it several times a week. They go for extra challenges to add variety and difficulty.

For me this is the best training I have found. Even on holiday I always swim in clothes wherever possible, just to keep toned up. ~ Pierre, Quebec, Canada  

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