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Deep End Practice

By your request, I'll discuss treading water.

Treading in deep water is a survival technique taught in a pool's deep end.
Stopping swimming in deep water in order to tread is necessary for your control, your confidence and your safety.
So, friends, if you can now swim across the pool from the shallow to the deep end, this section is for you.

But before we proceed I'm laying down the rules.
I can provide information and advice about deep water skills.
I can also help you reduce your risks.
Obviously I won't be teaching or supervising you at your pool.

It's up to you and your naturally cautious instincts to choose your teacher and the safest conditions for your deep end practice.


Safest conditions for the deep end

Here's what you need:

  • You'll need your teacher, dedicated to you.
  • A pool, public or private, with a shallow and deep end. There should be a sloping ramp built inbetween.
  • Pick a quiet hour for practicing. No distractions.
  • There will be a lifeguard watching the (public) pool. Request that the pool's lane line nearest you be taken down. You'll be glad of the extra room.

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Here's what your setup will generally look like:

(Pool depths vary depending on the pool)

These are the minimum safety conditions you need for deep water practice. For specific questions here's a Q&A:

Alrighty. You call up your teacher and get suited up. Let's tread!

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Bobbing first, treading next

...But first we'll bob. Bobbing prepares you for rhythmic breathing in deeper water; it's good for your confidence.

  • You'll need your teacher on the pool deck, preferably sitting at the edge, next to you.
  • You are in the pool facing your teacher and the pool edge, standing at the top of the ramp.
  • Your head is clear of the water and you're holding comfortably onto the pool edge.
  • You're going to slowly bob up and down, holding on to the edge throughout.
  • Take a normal breath, bend your knees with your feet flat on the ramp, exhale everything through your nose as you lower yourself and your face into the water.
  • Exhale everything, come back up and inhale. Nothing new here, you know how to bubble.

We're going to gently repeat this a few more times.
Your normal-sized breath gets fully exhaled through your nose and mouth.
Nice and relaxed, with no leftover air.


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Treading, face-down

OK, let's tread.

  • You can start at the top of the ramp. The water should be up to your chest, at least. (A gentle reminder that your buoyancy is best over the deepest water, and buoyancy is what makes treading possible.) But, progress according to your comfort – you have your whole life to spend enjoying deep water.
  • As with bobbing, face the wall, hands on the edge, and let yourself hang in the water a bit. You may sink a little – normal.
  • Your face should be submerged, with your mouth a little open, jaw relaxed.
  • Hold your breath without bubbling it out this time.
  • Raise your face for your next breath, exhale it all out and submerge again. Your whole body is relaxed, and you're still holding on to the pool edge.
  • Begin with a slow "giant stride" scissor kick. Slowly, please. No need to work hard while treading – it's a survival technique.Your ankles are relaxed as usual. Each kick pushes you upward.
  • Now add a wide, ongoing breastroke-like sweep with your hands, first in front of you, palms out, pushing water behind you along the surface, then returning your hands to the front, palms facing as they meet in front of your chest... back and forth... it's slow but powerful.
  • You've pushed yourself a bit away from the wall to do this. Come back at your own pace.
  • Keep submerging your face, breath held in your lungs (mouth a little open), raising it up only to take your next breath.
  • Exhale everything before inhaling. Stay relaxed and curved a bit forward. Note that your air-filled lungs are the highest part of your body.

That's it. You shouldn't be too far from the wall and can swim easily back. Your teacher will be sitting right there at the edge with you, anyway.

Treading, breathing freely

As you become comfortable treading with your face down, you'll then:

  • lift your face up and back,
  • looking up,
  • leaning backwards,
  • as you rhythmically scissor and sweep.
  • you only need your face clear of the water,
  • your body relaxed and
  • your movements slower than you think.

You can adjust your stroking movements, of course, in order to gradually tread for longer and longer periods.

Happy Treading!


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Pool Lanes

Pool lanes, as seen in the diagram, refer to both the plastic lines separating lanes as well as the space – the lane – they create.

As you practice at the wall, with the nearest lane hopefully taken down, you'll see it's "wavier" there. The waves bounce back off the wall, over you.

All this for the security of that pool edge? It's the surest way to learn the deep end. How smooth it'll be with practice as you later move over to swim between those lane lines!