Swimming basics: Floating on the Back in Shallow Water | Swimcentral

Swimming basics: Floating on the back in shallow water

Stage 1

Floating on the back requires keeping balanced and relaxed at the same time—not always easy for beginners! But it’s an important foundational skill for both the advanced strokes and for safety. Floating on the back in shallow water lets swimmers ease into position at their own pace while keeping control of their body and breathing.

To give it a go, a swimmer should:

  • Have access to very shallow water, such as a beach-entry pool
  • Feel comfortable with water around the head and ears
  • Understand a bit about of how the water will support their body

Relaxing the shoulders and tilting the chin up will help with floating. Folding the body in on itself will make it sink!

Our Guide to Floating on the Back in Shallow Water

  • Sit on the pool floor, legs in front and knees slightly bent
  • Put hands flat on the pool floor on either side of hips
  • Lean back onto elbows and stretch knees out
  • Tilt the head back and chin up until ears are submerged
  • Push the body up to the surface of the water with hands


Body Position


  • Once you’re able to push your body up to the surface…
  • Walk your fingers out a bit wider away from your body
  • Point your toes away from each other
  • Push your tummy button up to the ceiling
  • Let your hands come off of the pool floor

You’re floating!



Practicing with children?

  • Have a splash around first to get the head wet so it’s not a shock when they lean back the first time.
  • Sit side by side and practice getting into position together.
  • Make it fun: Pretend you’re starfish on the beach or a sunflower opening up to get some sunshine!


Mastered Floating on the Back in Shallow Water? Why not try the Star Float on the Front?

Finding this skill tricky? Have a go at Blowing Bubbles

Swimming basics: Blowing bubbles | Swimcentral

Swimming basics: Blowing bubbles

Stage 1

You may think you need to be able to hold your breath for a long time to swim. But the truth is you need to be able to control it. Blowing bubbles is the start of learning breath control! By getting into a pattern of breathing in when your face is out of the water, and blowing out when your face is in the water, oxygen keeps flowing to the muscles while you swim!

To give it a go, a swimmer should:

  • Be comfortable with water on the face
  • Be able to support their head position
  • Understand how to control their breathing

Looking forward while dipping the whole body straight down instead of face-planting into the water can help beginners feel more relaxed and in control.


Our Guide to Blowing Bubbles

  • Use the hands to wet the face if not already wet
  • Take a deep breath in through the mouth and hold it
  • Lower the body down until the mouth and nose are submerged
  • Blow the air out into the water
  • Stand back up before you breathe in again


More Ideas

If submerging to blow bubbles is a little challenging, start with blowing bubbles from above the water:

  • Put your chin in the water and…
  • Instead of bubbles, try to make ripples across the surface of the water


  • Take a big breath through the mouth, then…
  • Put your mouth on a straw and blow into the water
  • Bubbles!



Practicing with children?

  • Give them something to aim for with their breath, like an egg flip or a ball.
  • Face each other and blow bubbles back and forth.
  • Make it fun: Face your child and put a ball between you. See if they can catch you by blowing the ball toward you as you back away!

Mastered Blowing Bubbles?  Why not try Blowing Bubbles and Kicking Legs