Basic Water Survival Training Techniques

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The likelihood of becoming panicked when in a water survival situation is very high, and roughly 70% of all people live within an hour of a body of water. This is why it’s so important to practice basic water survival training techniques before finding yourself in a water survival situation. The likelihood of experiencing a water survival situation is higher than most people expect. In the year 2000, over 3,400 unintentional drownings occurred in the United States according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Here are some basic ways that you can prevent drowning through practicing water survival training techniques.

Treading Water

Typically, children are taught to tread water before they’re allowed to swim in the deep end of the pool. Although this seems like a very simple and basic skill, many people do not know how to tread water. Treading water is staying in a vertical position while in the water to keep your head above the surface of the water. It gives you the ability to keep yourself from becoming submerged, but doesn’t provide enough thrust to go anywhere. This is used mostly to stay afloat and conserve energy when taking a longer swim. A non-swimmer that’s drowning will often splash and kick in an effort to stay above the surface because of a lack of technique. This will cause them to tire quickly and will make it more difficult to stay above the surface for longer, which is why learning to tread water is so very important to water survival. One method of staying afloat through treading water is called flutter kicking. The most common way to tread water, however, is considered the eggbeater kick. This is done by alternating rotation of legs with one leg rotating clockwise and the other counterclockwise.


Bobbing is used to stay alive when the hands and feet are bound. It’s a very good basic water survival technique to learn even if you never expect to be in a situation where your feet and hands are bound in the water. The goal in bobbing is to expel the air in your lungs as you go down under the water. Once you reach the bottom of the lake or pool that you’re in, you will push off hard from the bottom to rise to the surface of the water as fast as you can. Then at the surface you will quickly take in air again. Bobbing is only useful in waters that are not too deep. Most people panic during training to learn how to bob, which is why you should not bind anyone with rope during training. A dolphin kick is a maneuver that can be used with the hands and feet bound to rise to the surface of the water quickly.


Gliding under the surface of the water is called underwaters. The goal of doing an underwaters training session is to increase the lung capacity and practice increasing efficiency. Efficiency equates to swimming 75 feet in fewer strokes than normal. Ideally, one would reach 75 feet in just five or six strokes. You can use a modified breaststroke with a frog kick or a dolphin kick for the legs. Your eyes should be focused on the bottom of the pool while staying alert to avoid crashing into anyone else. Being relaxed throughout this process is especially important as it helps to conserve oxygen. After reaching 75 feet in five to six modified breast strokes, increase the goal to 150 feet.

Always make sure to have a lifeguard or a buddy present when practicing water survival techniques.

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