Scouts-L Mail Archive for February of 1999: Re: Drown-proofing (or Scout who swims like a brick)
Re: Drown-proofing (or Scout who swims like a brick)
Sat, 6 Feb 1999 12:22:49 -0500
The requirement for First Class (old book) reads: "...and to float
(rest) as motionless as possible for 1 minute."
Doesn't say anything about floating on one's back. Like the Scout in
question, I have a difficult time floating on my back (too much of my
wife's insistance on "fat-free" foods, in my opinion.:-)
When I was in Coast Guard boot camp thirty years ago, they required that
we float for a half-hour in order to qualify as a swimmer. To accomplish
that seemingly ludicrous goal, we were taught a process that they called
"drown proofing". The skill was supposed to prepare us for long-term
survival at sea in case of a disaster aboard ship. I still use and teach
this easy technique to our boys today.
The idea is simple... if you've got air in your lungs, and your lungs
are properly placed in your body, (most Scouts qualify here) you CAN
float virtually motionless and also virtually indefinately. They told us
at the time that you'll starve before you drown if you use this
technique properly. (Hey, it was boot camp... they told us a LOT of
stuff that made no sense.)
The one caveat is that the Scout must be comfortable placing his face
down in the water. He will be required to hold his breath for half a
minute or so. Some boys may find this the toughest part, but if they TRY
this, they will soon find themselves confident in their body's capacity
to float. And it WILL float.
While I am NOT a certified instructor in this or any other swimming
skill, I will attempt to describe it here. Get a pro to check off on
this process and clarify my inadequate description.
1. Get in the water, relax, breathe slowly and deeply while treading
water for a short time.
2. Take a DEEP breath, HOLD IT and let your arms hang loosly at your
sides while allowing your face to fall forward into the water. Stop any
motion of kicking and relax your legs. Do NOT attempt to rotate your
body horizontally... you should be nearly vertical in the water.
3. In just 2 or 3 seconds, your body will rotate forward slightly such
that only the back of your head and the top of your shoulders across
your back are at the surface. The air in your lungs generates enough
boyancy to keep you at the surface.
4. RELAX! This is vital. It's like "zen-swimming"... become one with the
water. Remain absolutely motionless.
5. When you feel the need to breathe, begin to exhale and SLOWLY draw
your arms up in a move similar to a single slow-motion breast-stroke
action. At the same time, draw your legs upward SLOWLY and execute a
single scissor-kick ...again do this as if in slow-motion. What these
two actions combine to do is allow you to raise your face forward
slightly out of the water and take a breath.
6. After executing the breath move, allow your body to completely relax
and it will slowly return to the position in step 2.
If this is practiced and learned effectively, you will soon be finding
yourself nearly comfortable enough in the water to fear falling asleep.
True. Again, relaxation of all body parts is the key. Tenseness in the
arms and legs or any attempt to keep the face up will defeat the
equilibrium that your body will otherwise achieve on it's own.
This technique is equally effective in salt or fresh water and can be
especially useful as a resting tool for Scouts attempting the Mile Swim.
Again, get a qualified instructor to explain this to you better than I
can here. You'll not be sorry.
Eagle Dad & SA, Troop 10 - Miami
Webgod, Troop 10 & Hurricane District