DO YOU HAVE TO KNOW HOW TO SWIM TO SNORKEL?
Many people all over the world enjoy snorkeling. There are many others who may like to see the wonderful life of underwater corals but have no courage for such activities. Some of these people may find it difficult to use a snorkel to breathe in under the water and some may be afraid of an unknown fear whereas some may not feel secure in the water. In fact, it is neither scary nor difficult to snorkel as it seems to give you a James Bond-like experience inexpensively when you see fabulous fish in crystal clear blue water.
However, before diving into the water to have an underwater experience it is necessary to ensure you already know swimming for this purpose. But snorkeling is not a risk-free underwater activity even if you are equipped with a snorkel tube, fins, and mask designed for this purpose. Actually, you can enjoy snorkeling even if you do not know how to swim or are not a confident swimmer. Normally snorkeling is considered as an underwater activity that is performed in the ocean but it is not true. The point of fact is that snorkeling is a surface-related sport, unlike swimming. The movements and skills required for snorkeling are not completely the same as required for swimming.
If you do not know how to swim for snorkeling, then before knowing to swim for this purpose you must know the differences between swimming and snorkeling.
Swimming vs. Snorkeling
While swimming you are supposed to use your legs and arms as well as move your head out and in the water to move forward through the water as efficiently and quickly as possible. But while snorkeling you are expected to perform in the opposite direction. To see everything under the water you will have to move slowly, instead of move in the water forcefully you will have to stay on the surface of the water with your head under the water.
So, swimming can be different from snorkeling in technique, breathing style, flotation system, and equipment required. These differences are briefly discussed here under to understand them more precisely.
Breathing system: To breathe while swimming you will have to lift your head out of water otherwise you have to keep it in the water as required by the swimming strokes. But while snorkeling you need not worry about lifting your head out of the water to breathe in as you can breathe in constantly and normally through the snorkel tube. Some of the swimmers can be afraid of the discomfort caused by water entering into their nose but that is not true. The entry of water into the nose can be prevented by wearing a snorkeling mask that covers your eyes and nose effectively.
The technique of swimming: You must know various types of strokes including backstroke, front stroke, and breaststroke, etc. while swimming normally. To push your body through the water you will have to coordinate the movements of your leg and arms while swimming.
But while snorkeling you can increase the power of your legs by wearing fins to propel yourself. In other words, you can use your arms either for directing your friends to see something interested in the water or to balance your body in the water. In this way, it can be easier to snorkel than swimming as you do not need to know about a particular stroke for this purpose.
Equipment required: While swimming no additional equipment is required but you can improve your swimming experience by wearing fins, pads, and goggles, etc. But while snorkeling you are required to wear a mask that can cover your entire face to protect your eye and nose along with fins, a snorkel tube, and a device to make flotation easy like belts or vests. The mask should seal your face tightly to protect your nose and eyes from the entry of water and allow you to see the underwater world. Moreover, a snorkel tube allows you to breathe even while your face is in the water.
Flotation system: A flotation system is rarely used by the swimmers as they can float comfortably on the water by using their legs and arms for treading water as well as using different types of strokes.
However, while snorkeling it can be more comfortable even for the swimmers to use some floating system to help you while seeing the underwater sights and relaxing in the water. Some of the floatation devices normally used while snorkeling include life-saving jackets or vests, wetsuits, swimming noodles in calm water conditions, or flotation belts. For those who are wondering if it is necessary to buy a wetsuit or not, this is what they should read: Do You Need to Wear a Wetsuit for Snorkeling?
You can also find a few products in the market that can improve your snorkeling experience by allowing you to rest your head while floating on the surface and looking into the water.
Similarly, fins can provide you additional power to move through the water without using your legs to kick the water hard.
What to Do If You Do Not Know How to Swim?
If you are a non-swimmer then snorkeling can be riskier for you than any other water-related activity.
Problems Faced by Non-swimmers While Snorkeling
Some of the problems experienced by non-swimmers, while snorkeling, are briefly discussed below for your information. This article Is Snorkeling Dangerous? Things You Should Know has also listed the situations that you should watch out for.
Change in weather conditions: In tropical areas, it is not easy to predict the weather and sea conditions. If it starts raining or the wind picks up speed the calm water of the sea can change to jerky within a few minutes. One can easily cope with such changes while snorkeling if he knows swimming.
Panicking: While in deep water non-swimmers can panic more easily in changing conditions than a swimmer.
Currents of ocean: Even if the sea looks calm, one cannot travel for a long time on it due to currents in it. One can easily swim back to the boat or shore if he knows how to swim but for non-swimmers, the chances of getting stranded are more.
Trouble in getting into the boat: While snorkeling, if you are a non-swimmer, you can find yourself floating on the water. Unless you are picked up into the boat, it can be difficult for you to get out of the water.
Problems with equipment: Even if you have selected perfect fit equipment, the strap of your fins can get loose or a little water can seep into the snorkel or mask. If you are a swimmer you can easily fix such problems by treading the water.
Tips and Safety Rules for Snorkeling by Non-swimmers
Non-swimmers can avoid or reduce most of the problems discussed above while snorkeling by following some easy rules discussed here under. For beginners, you can also read this blog post: Beginner’s Guide to Proper and Safe Snorkeling.
Wear a superior flotation device: If the water gets jerky while snorkeling or you are separated from your group, a god quality flotation device will keep you safe and floating.
Never snorkel alone: If you do not know how to swim for snorkeling then instead of snorkeling alone you must have a guide or swimmer with you to protect you in case you panic due to any problem.
Practice in a pool: If you are using snorkeling equipment for the first time then to be familiar with it you can practice it in a pool. It will increase your confidence level while on the sea.
Check your equipment: While getting ready for snorkeling you must take your time to check the comfort level and fitting of the equipment. It will help you to avoid loosening of the fins and entry of water into your mask or snorkel tube.
Stay alert: While snorkeling you can avoid drifting away or separated from your group by checking your location and closeness of others in your group by looking up from the water regularly after some time.
Stay peaceful: If you have been separated or drifted away from your group while snorkeling then instead of panicking and thrashing around in the water you should rely on your floatation device and slow down your breath. It will help you to find someone to save you.
Choose the right equipment: Sometimes you can be in a dangerous situation due to the quality of your equipment. You should check the quality and fitness of the snorkeling equipment before using it.
The wonderful experience of snorkeling can be enjoyed by everyone regardless of his age and gender. But it can be more entertaining if you know how to swim for snorkeling.
Snorkeling is a wonderful activity that people of all ages can enjoy and if you already know how to swim, you're at a great advantage.
Though swimming has nothing to do with snorkeling as both are quite opposite activities still you can be more confident while snorkeling if you know swimming in different environments. It can help you to get closer to the corals and fish as well as ensure your security in any adverse condition.
But it does not mean that non-swimmers cannot enjoy snorkeling. They can also snorkel safely by following the tips discussed in this write-up.