TOP 3 STEPS TO HELP MAKE TREADING WATER FEEL EASY!
Treading water can be challenging. Swimmers often use too much energy due to inefficient patterns of movement. However, with proper technique, you can maintain a sustainable and comfortable place in the water.
Many people assume treading water involves a lot of effort and their behavior in the water mimics this way of thinking. This is further enabled by survival patterns that we all have embedded in our nervous system. Once, you are able to overcome this innate behavior, you can achieve a more relaxed state when confronted with deep water.
The key point to getting comfortable in deep water is to understand and feel your true buoyancy. This is best if practiced in a shallow pool first. Once you discover this point in your form, treading water becomes much easier. It is more important to spend time learning this skill before progressing forward into deep water.
You may be asking yourself: What exactly is treading water? What am I doing that is causing me to sink so quickly? Why is it important to know my true buoyancy? How can I swim in deep water without panicking or freaking out?
In this blog I will go over exactly what treading water is, what is causing you to sink quickly, the importance of knowing your true buoyancy, and my top 3 steps to help you achieve control in deep water without feeling anxious.
WHAT IS TREADING WATER?
Treading water is a skill swimmers use to stay idle in water without touching the bottom of the pool. This skill is used for a variety of circumstances in swimming. For example, treading water is used during an entire match of water polo, taking a break in open water, and hanging out in a deep pool without having to rush to the wall for support. Depending on what treading water is used for determines how much energy you will expend.
Egg beater is a more popular and well known term for treading water. This form is mostly used for water polo to drive power to lift a swimmer out of the water as high as possible to score in a match. This pattern involves moving your feet in a circular motion but in opposite directions simulating the motion of an egg beater tool which is where its name originated from.
Executing an egg beater pattern with a lot of force is not the only way you can become comfortable treading water. There are other ways to still support yourself in this motion without using a lot of energy. It involves a combination of maintaining buoyancy, sculling your arms, and body position.
In order to incorporate the foundation to treading water, it is important to understand what is causing you to sink in the first place.
WHY AM I SINKING SO QUICKLY WHEN I TRY TO TREAD ON MY OWN?
The root of why you experience the sensation of sinking has to do with fear. Fear of not knowing what to do when confronted with deep water. Once your brain senses the feeling of your body sinking, it will immediately trigger the “fight or flight” response embedded in your Amygdala. It is not a conscious choice.
Once this response is activated, your body will surge with tension. Your breathing will become shallow. Your arms and legs will move rapidly with force and you will position yourself to be completely vertical or perpendicular to the bottom of the pool.
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This experience will reconfirm the common misconception that you have to be a “strong” swimmer to be able to support yourself in deep water. That you need to kick and move your arms with strength to keep your head above water. This assumption could not be further from the truth.
However, you must understand this situation before moving forward in learning how to overcome this fear. How you will break free from the “fight or flight” pattern is to first understand your true buoyancy and how to achieve it consistently in a shallow pool first.
HOW DO YOU FIND YOUR TRUE BUOYANCY AND WHY IS THIS IMPORTANT?
The catalyst to feeling the water naturally support you is to fully surrender without resisting or fighting the water. The first point to achieve this feeling is to understand how your lungs play a role in this sensation.
Your lungs have two responsibilities when it comes to swimming. They are used to help you:
Maintain comfort and breath control
How you are able to let go and feel your lungs support you involves the skill of a simple float you can practice in a shallow pool only. This float is called a “cannon ball” float as you slowly hug your knees towards your chest in the fetal position.
It feels a little strange at first but if you are patient with yourself you will realize this is a very relaxing position.
You want to feel your buoyancy when you keep a full tank of air in your lungs. Follow this by repeating the same float but consciously exhale all of your air by emptying your lungs.
As you empty the air from your lungs, your body will slowly sink to the bottom of the pool. Allow this to happen, sit at the bottom of the pool, and then extend your legs to stand up.
The purpose of going through this is to understand that if you empty your air completely you will eventually sink and become out of breath.
Lastly, perform the same float with a full inhale. Hold it and feel yourself floating on the surface of the water. Then gently exhale the air from your nose.
What you will experience is that you will continue to float while staying comfortable by releasing just enough air.
In summary, this float helps you understand that in order to stay buoyant and comfortable you must keep enough air in your lungs at all times will slowly releasing some air.
This skill will help you understand the type of breath control you need while treading water.
Eventually you will need to breathe in while treading and this skill helps you feel that you only exhale and inhale enough that will not empty your lungs completely.
Once you establish this feeling, you can tread water for as long as you want without feeling worn out.
This leads to my top three steps to help you make this movement efficient.
HERE ARE MY TOP 3 STEPS TO HELP MAKE TREADING WATER FEEL EASY!
STEP #1: Practice the cannon ball float consistently with ease in a shallow pool.
STEP #2: Practice floating on your back in a shallow pool. Become comfortable with letting your legs fall without reacting. Your lungs and head position will stay a float even if your legs fall.
STEP #3: Practice sculling your arms side to side to feel the water while remaining relaxed. Maintain keeping your knees in a seated position to make this motion feel easier. Practice this in a shallow pool until you can consistently repeat this without abruptly stopping.
Now that you have a better understanding of treading water and how it is connected to the fight or flight response, you can start to practice the initial steps of finding your true buoyancy first.
Remember, if you take time with this process by relaxing and feeling the water support you, you will be able to overcome your fear of deep water in time.
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Enjoy your practice swimmers and keep me posted on your progress!