Can’t Swim? What Skills Can Prevent Drowning?

Few things are more relaxing than spending an evening peacefully floating on a pontoon boat or in a kayak. However, if you don’t know how to swim, you may be too nervous to venture near the water — even after taking precautions like wearing a life jacket and using the buddy system. Fortunately, there are a few easy maneuvers you can master to help improve your buoyancy and help you remain afloat until help arrives, should the worst happen. Read on to learn more about the skills that may come in handy if you find yourself in the water.


While floating may seem effortless to some, for others it can be difficult. However, floating can be invaluable if you find yourself in a relatively still body of water (like a pond or lake) and need to be rescued. To float, simply take a deep breath and relax slowly, pushing your chest up toward the sky. Your ability to float largely depends upon the amount of body fat you have — if you’re on the lean side, you’ll have to take a more active approach by allowing your chest to float while periodically kicking your feet to avoid being taken under.

Because floating uses fairly little energy compared to active swimming, you should be able to sustain yourself for a longer period of time before help arrives. 

Treading water

The ability to tread water without quickly becoming tired can be very useful if you’ve fallen from a boat in a fairly active body of water (like a river or the ocean) and are waiting for help to arrive. In these situations, floating may not be enough to keep you in one spot or to keep your head above water. 

There are a variety of ways to tread water, and none are hailed as the “correct” way — but calmly pushing water out of the way with your hands and feet in a circular motion uses significantly less energy than frenetic or thrashing movements, which can help keep you calm and sustain your energy levels until help arrives. It’s important not to panic when you find yourself in a rescue situation, as the adrenaline and other hormones released during this process can settle in your muscles as lactic acid, causing cramps. 

Dog paddle

Although the dog paddle can be comical-looking when performed by dogs (or humans), it’s also an effective way to get you across a body of water without requiring you to get your head or face wet. To do this efficiently, you’ll simply need to kick your legs under the water and do a breaststroke crawl with your arms to propel yourself forward — like pulling a set of curtains open over and over. You can modify your stroke as your arms grow tired, and you may be able to take floating (or water treading) breaks if needed. 

For more information, consider contacting a professional like those at B & C Aquatics Limited.