Even the most complex swimming stroke involves only two skills: floating and adding propulsion to get a swimmer to move. The first step might be the most frightening for novices.
Floating is the basis of all swimming, and it should be easy for most people to master with a little practice. For the vast majority of people holding a full breath makes it impossible to sink. Human bodies are inherently buoyant, which means that it is not a skill that needs to be learned. Three elements control buoyancy: breath control, body position and relaxation. Relaxation might be the key in the beginning because even though human bodies float a large percentage of a person’s body will still be submerged in the water. Panicking while attempting to keep one’s head above water could result in a failure to float.
The back float is one of the easiest and most important skills for a swimmer to learn. It allows a person to rest and breathe in deep water. A back float requires almost no effort and it may save lives in the event of an accident on open water. The back float is also important when trying to learn one of several strokes that require swimmers to be on their backs.
A proper back float has a swimmer lying down in the water so that his or her ears are submerged. When holding steady in the water it is time to practice breathing techniques. Take short quick breathes through the mouth, while holding in breath for periods.
A full back float is achieved when a swimmer is able to extend his or her arms above the head. The feet will rise as the arm move up and a simple and potentially life saving technique has been learned. Rather than treading water for hours the back float can keep people breathing and rested while waiting for help to arrive.