Zoggs Swim Diaries: Learning Survival Skills

This week is Drowning Prevention Week 2015; at swimming pools across the country, lessons this week are focusing on survival skills. So, I rocked up at my swimming lesson yesterday in some fairly thick joggers (I was feeling pretty brave) and a t-shirt over my swimming costume.

We leapt straight into learning how to enter the water without getting your head wet or sinking too deep – ideal if you have to enter water for any reason but can’t see what’s lurking below the surface – think shopping trolleys, sharp metal objects, rocks etc. I failed miserably and reached the bottom of the pool! I blame the joggers, although I think it was probably more to do with my straddle jump technique!

We went from water entry to escaping a sinking ship – we needed to move fast but look where we were going, so adopted a head-out-of-water wide-armed crawl - as soon as I started to swim I could feel the weight of my clothes dragging me back and down – we had to do 50m of hard swimming and I really struggled to finish the final 10m! I’m not a bad swimmer – I do still have loads of room for improvement, but I think I’m at the stage where I’m reasonable - I can swim a mile in a 25m pool without too much difficulty. However, jumping in clothed (we didn’t even have shoes on) really made me realise how easily you could drown! Especially if you were an inexperienced or non-swimmer.

We covered loads in our 45 minute class – from how to get past an oil slick, you really don’t want to go through it, to how to save yourself from someone who is panicking and trying to hang onto you – which will never end well! We even practiced taking off our clothes whilst treading water – not easy when you’ve tied a double knot in your trousers to stop them falling down whilst swimming…

The key takeaway from the class for me was simply how physically demanding it is to swim in clothes. I have a huge newfound respect for the army guys that were training at the 50m army pool I used for my Swimathon training – they ploughed up and down in full combat suits for over 30 minutes. A big credit to my local pool too (I swim at Hart Leisure Centre in Fleet) as not only did we learn some really useful, potentially lifesaving skills in that class, we also had a blast doing it!