Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Essentials of Shallow and Deep Water Swimming

The essentials of swimming remain the same whether you're paddling around a wading pool or taking a swim in the sea, far from coast. On the other hand, when swimming at significant depths, typically with the use of scuba gear, you must learn and abide by safety precautions and techniques. For beginning swimmers, just moving from the shallow to the deep end of the pool can be a meaningful transition.
Shallow vs. Deep Water: For Beginners
To the novice swimmer, paddling in deeper waters can be intimidating. Once you reach a depth where it's impossible to touch down with your feet, you must have the ability to keep yourself afloat, reliably, or be under the keen supervision of your swim instructor. However, while learning to swim under the instruction of a qualified teacher, going straight into the deep end can prove useful because the deeper water gives you space to tread without touching down.
Moving to Deeper Water
Before you begin to swim in deeper water, learn to tread water effortlessly and confidently. Walk out to the spot in a swimming pool where you can just touch down with your toes. Spend a few minutes treading water there, making large and gentle scissor sweeps with your legs, and then move into slightly deeper water. Continue treading in the slightly deeper water, letting your legs extend fully during each stroke. Only practice this maneuver when you have a swim instructor or lifeguard available.
Scuba Diving in Deep Water
If you're swimming through deep water with the assistance of scuba gear, your swimming style will change somewhat because you no longer need to regularly move up to the surface for air. While you no longer need to concern yourself with moving upward to breathe, you do need to monitor your oxygen supply system carefully as you swim. Because you must divide your attention between your scuba equipment, your entry and exit procedures, and whatever sights you are taking in, swimming at deeper levels is best done once you are highly proficient at basic swimming strokes and can perform them effortlessly. To get certified to scuba dive, you might be required to swim 200 to 300 yards and show that you can tread water for at least 10 minutes.
Water Depth and Speed
For competitive swimming, the depth of a pool and the depth at which an athlete swims can influence performance and speed. The design of the Water Cube pool used in the 2008 Beijing Olympics is 10 feet deep, making it 3 feet deeper than the past standard for competitive pools. According to an August 2008 story at, Rowdy Gaines, an Olympic medalist and swimming commentator, partially credits the pool's depth and overall design with the many records broken during its use in the Olympics. If a pool bottom is too close to the swimmer, the friction between various currents of water can actually slow the swimmer.

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