Swimming is the self-propulsion of a person through water, or other liquid, usually for recreation, sport, exercise, or survival. Locomotion is achieved through coordinated movement of the limbs and the body to achieve hydrodynamic thrust which results in directional motion. Humans can hold their breath underwater and undertake rudimentary locomotive swimming within weeks of birth, as a survival response.
Because it’s low-impact and highly modifiable, swimming is often touted as a safe exercise for almost everyone, including injured athletes, pregnant women and seniors. While swimming does have a ton of physical and mental benefits, there are various risks present during swimming. Swimmers are at risk of incapacitation due to panic and exhaustion, which may cause death due to drowning. That doesn’t mean you should fear the water. On the contrary, staying calm keeps you safer.
Here are the safety rules that will help you avoid danger in and around the water.
In the article
- 1. Never, ever swim alone
- 2. Know the shallow and deep ends
- 3. Don't panic
- 4. Chill out
- 5. Stay hydrated
- 6. Don't eat while swimming
- 7. Follow the rules
- 8. Get an expert to train you
- 9. Master the art of taking and holding breaths
- 10. An immobilised limb won’t cost you
- 11. Play nice
- 12. Watch the weather
- Bottom line
1. Never, ever swim alone
Find safety in numbers. Whether you’re at a public pool or a beach, find a buddy to go with you. Swimming alone is risky because there are times when you can get an emergency while inside the water. If you’re alone, no one will help you. However good you are, never swim alone because it’s always possible to die in the shallow end of a pool. Why? Because when you dive inside water, you hold your breath. And the lack of breathing affects the brain and it can shut down.
You just die like that, because the oxygen is not there. You may think you’re comfortable holding your breath but you are dying. Even for expert swimmers, you should not to swim alone. There has to be someone; you never know what happens. If you’re swimming with children, watch them constantly; drownings can happen extremely quickly and quietly. The best practice: Appoint a single adult to supervise without distraction, a so-called water guardian.
2. Know the shallow and deep ends
Never plunge into the water unless you’re sure it’s deep enough and free of obstacles. Many serious head and spine injuries happen when people dive headfirst into the water and hit the bottom. You can become paralyzed or worse. Always make sure you know where the deep and the shallow ends are, so that you can differentiate them. This is because when swimming, most people close their eyes.
You can open your eyes when you’re in the deep end and start wondering what you’ll do. The moment you start to ask yourself those kinds of questions, that’s when fear gets in, and once the fear gets in, that’s when drowning follows. Once you’re in the water, take note of diving boards, slides and similar features. Stay clear of the areas beneath them, lest another swimmer slam into you from above.
Your idea of a swimming pool might be the Olympics type where agile men and women dive in and compete like fishes in water. However, not every side of a pool is worth diving into. So long as you’re a pro-swimmer, you can swim anywhere in the pool. A pro-swimmer doesn’t always look for the deep or the shallow end. People need to get more education on the basic parts of a swimming pool and to understand the deep and shallow ends.
3. Don't panic
Most incidents of pool drowning happen as a result of panicking and throwing arms all over. If you experience minor moments of anxiety, however, do your best to stay calm. Calmness helps one float in water of whatever depth. Panicking only helps the water to kill you. Always calm down and relax. The water will always carry you over. The more relaxed you are, the easier swimming will be and the more likely you can float.
You will always float when you relax; don’t panic. That panic is what makes you sink. You can even sleep on water looking at the sky, then the water will always carry you. The moment you start fighting water, it will fight you back. If it’s the deep end that causes your heart to pump harder, consider this: It’s not quite as far down as you think.
Just because you can’t touch the bottom doesn’t mean you’re going to sink there. Keep things in perspective by kicking to the wall, and consider the fact that you could bounce off the bottom and jump toward the side if you needed. If you’re above water, focus on your breathing to quiet your nerves. Underwater, it can help to blow bubbles rather than holding your breath.
4. Chill out
When around water, always be careful. We are not fish. If you’re excessively exhausted, overheated or freezing, stay out of the water altogether. Otherwise, arm yourself with techniques for what to do when you fatigue, like floating: Keep your head back and stomach up, relax and breathe. Find the ladder and wall and stay as close to the sides as possible. That way, if you’re losing their breath or panicking, you know right where to go. Any water body that you see around is harmful. Always be cautious, however shallow it may be.
5. Stay hydrated
Just because you’re submerged doesn’t mean you’re not sweating. Even though the water may keep your body temperature a bit cooler, you’ll still sweat if you’re working hard enough. Sip from a water bottle regularly to replenish your fluids.
6. Don't eat while swimming
If you’re swimming for long enough – say, a 5K or 10K – you might want to refuel with an energy bar or a banana midway through. Just get out of the water first. Eating while swimming poses a risk of choking. So, too, does chewing gum (not to mention the mess it makes if it falls out mid-stroke). Also, don’t swim while intoxicated. There is a risk of death if someone goes swimming when intoxicated. Alcohol and water don’t mix.
7. Follow the rules
Each swimming establishment has its own set of guidelines. It will be foolhardy to ignore them. The poolside should always have those rules and regulations. They should always be put in a place where they can be seen clearly and in a place where anyone can see and read. Read any rules that are posted or explained by the lifeguard – and follow them. They’re there to keep everyone safe.
8. Get an expert to train you
Many people know how to swim in their minds. In fact, everybody you meet will tell you that they know how to swim. But that’s very wrong. Be genuine with yourself and always do what you’re very sure about. If you don’t know how to swim, don’t try. Water always assumes that everyone that gets inside it knows how to swim. So, don’t try swimming if you know very well you don’t know how to. It’s recommended that everyone learns how to swim, as it is a life skill.
If you’re not a proficient swimmer – and especially if you have fear or anxiety around the water – don’t wade in unprepared. Instead, sign up for swim lessons. There, you’ll learn safety skills such as how to roll over, float and tread water, in addition to technical guidance on strokes like freestyle and butterfly. The adventure-filled swims by children in rivers, lakes, oceans and other water bodies may not provide enough skills to survive drowning.
9. Master the art of taking and holding breaths
A good swimmer takes in a deep breath, dives into the pool, releases it gradually in the water, then returns to the top for another fresh breath before returning. If you take a deep breath, you will get in the water while holding it. But you can’t hold it for a long time.
10. An immobilised limb won’t cost you
You know, a muscle pull only attacks just one leg. But for swimming, you can swim with your legs only or your hands only. It’s not a must that you engage both. So, your legs may cramp but you can use your hands on your way to safety. A person should train so well that even when they have no rubber tube or a floating device, they can swim comfortably. You always need to know how to survive in the water with or without those floaters because it can find you anywhere; maybe a flood or something.
11. Play nice
Never push or shove anyone near or in the water, even as a joke. You don’t know if they can swim properly. And if you’re not a strong swimmer yourself or a lifeguard, how can you rescue them? Plus, it’s not safe to roughhouse near the concrete or hard cement surrounding the pool; it’s all too easy for heads to hit the ground. As if that wouldn’t be bad enough, if someone hits their head and falls into the water, he or she might not be able to get out. That’s another reason to walk, not run, around the deck.
12. Watch the weather
Stormy weather presents a huge danger for swimmers. H2O makes a perfect conductor, so if lightning strikes an open body of water, electricity spreads out over the surface. Stop swimming if there’s lightning or thunder even miles away. As a general rule, you should wait at least half an hour after lightning strikes before entering the pool again. You shouldn’t even swim indoors in a storm. Current can travel through wiring or plumbing, making pools, locker-room showers and even electrical appliances like hairdryers risky. Save your swim for a sunny day.
Like any other activity, swimming requires you to be mindful of your limits. Take note of safety rules while swimming to avoid turning it catastrophic. You must properly train yourself with the assistance of a trainer to attain the degree of proficiency required to execute them without help.