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The Life Saver and Speedy Swimmer Back Float

A young girl floats in a swimming pool with the assistance of a female instructor who holds a yellow float. Both are smiling. The text below the image reads, "THE LIFE SAVER AND SPEEDY SWIMMER BACK FLOAT! 'Relax into a great Body Position.'.

Back floating is a foundation that can, not only save your child’s life, but can also make the difference between a good competitive swimmer and a great competitive swimmer.

Parents, swim coaches, and swim teachers often force the back float. They grab the student’s forehead, shove their head backwards, and make them back float. In contrast, our Core Value approach here at Gold Medal Swim School emphasizes, “Relax into a great Body Position.” Correct Body Position, in combination with propulsion from the legs, is best achieved while in a relaxed state. Relaxation is the key to proper Body Position on the back.

When I look at the fundamental characteristics of not only Olympic swimmers, but of great swimmers here at our swim school, the swimmers who are relaxed and hold proper Body Position tend to be in the correct position to efficiently propel down the pool.

Body Position begins in our Baby&Me program with our “ears wet” skill. In Starfish and Seahorse, we allow swimmers, with support, to melt back into the water. In higher levels, correct Body Position allows swimmers to race to the best of their ability without worrying whether they are floating correctly.

I often see high-level swimmers carry all sorts of tension, their jaws are tight, they are not breathing well, and their bodies resemble the shape of a banana. You will never hear someone say, “Oh, look at that fast banana swim across the pool.” Rather than a banana, body shape should resemble a torpedo, a missile, or an arrow. The shape of the body in the water makes a big difference, as the correct shape allows swimmers to swim fast and efficiently.

The shape of the body also matters in the survival sequence. If the swimmer’s head is up while their bottom is sinking to form the banana shape, they will struggle more. This can cause the swimmer to panic. Get them to relax. Support them through their back. Even when you watch your high-level swimmers on swim team, ask them to push back and relax, do not force them into the position. It is exciting when you watch swimmers doing great back floats because not only will they be happier in the pool, but they will also swim a lot faster and better.

Yours in Swimming,

Mike Walker