If you want to dive and swim underwater, our instinct is to take a deep breath and then dive.
This is great, as it allows us to stay underwater for much longer. However, as our lungs are filled with air, it is very difficult to stay underwater without floating back up to the surface.
As a general rule, if you want to swim underwater and not float back up as a beginner, it can help to exhale the air in your lungs. However, most experienced swimmers will not exhale and rely on stroke technique to stay submerged, using their air-filled lungs to stay under for longer.
Swimming underwater is a tricky skill for the beginner. The first time I tried to swim underwater, I kept floating back up to the surface. It was nearly impossible to dive for me!
In this article, I will cover some basic techniques that will help you sink and not float to the surface when swimming underwater.
Remember to always swim with a buddy who can watch out for you when swimming underwater.
I will cover:
- Should I exhale before swimming underwater?
- How to sink when swimming
Should I Exhale Before Swimming Underwater?
When we want to swim underwater, the natural buoyancy of our bodies and the air in our lungs will want to force us to the surface of the water.
It can be very difficult to stay submerged with full lungs of air unless you are experienced in diving or underwater swimming.
Most beginners take a deep breath and dry to duck under the water. Of course, this deep breath has filled their lungs with air and many first-time divers find it very hard to dive or even sink.
This is because the air in their lungs is keeping them buoyant, but they do not have the stroke technique to stay under.
You could exhale before swimming underwater, but a much more comfortable approach is to exhale while submerged. This will allow you to sink and stay submerged.
Remember that as you exhale, you will sink. You will still need to exert energy to swim back to the surface so ensure that you never push yourself beyond your limits and do not run out of air.
As you dive in a swimming pool, gently allow air to escape. This will help you to sink and stay submerged.
I have covered how to exhale underwater in much greater detail in this article, How To Exhale Underwater (A Simple Guide)
The big disadvantage of exhaling as you swim underwater is that you cannot stay under for very long as you are losing oxygen.
This is why experience divers will not exhale and instead use their stroke technique to stay under for as long as they can.
Remember always swim with a buddy when swimming underwater, as water blackouts can easily occur.
To learn how to swim underwater, I recommend this fantastic video from Christian Wedoy, which explains it beautifully.
How To Sink When Swimming
In order to swim underwater, it’s important to understand buoyancy and what can make us sink.
As a general rule, there are three ways to sink when swimming, which include exhaling the air in your lungs, using a weight belt, or swimming deeper to a point where the air in your lungs are compressed and you become less buoyant.
1. Exhaling Air
As mentioned, one of the easiest methods to sink or not float up when swimming is to exhale the air from your lungs.
To do this, you can breathe out all the air in your lungs through your nose as you submerge. With no air in your lungs, you are far less buoyant and will sink.
The major downside of this is that you cannot stay underwater for very long as you have exhaled your oxygen supply.
This is an easy option for beginners, but not usually used by experienced divers who want to retain as much oxygen as possible.
2. Weight Belt
Using a weight belt is very common with more experienced divers or underwater swimmers who have the experience to hold their breath and stay underwater, yet do not have the full technique to depend on their swim stroke to keep them submerged.
It is simply a belt with a weight attached.
Take great care when using a weight belt. The belt needs to be light enough so you can still float and be buoyant, and not so heavy that you sink and can not swim back to the surface.
With the correct weight belt, you can easily sink and swim underwater.
3. Dive Deep
Experienced divers can dive deep enough until they reach a depth where the air becomes compressed in their lungs and they will start to sink.
Once they reach this depth, which is around 5 meters (16 feet) they will naturally sink and can then swim back up to the surface when needed.
Of course, it takes experience and technique to dive to such depths.
To learn more about how to swim underwater without swimming up I have covered this in much greater detail in this article, How To Swim Underwater Without Floating Up (Solved)
When swimming underwater, there are three primary ways to sink. You can exhale the air in your lungs, use a weight belt or swim deeper to a point where the air in your lungs is compressed and you become less buoyant.
Each method has its own advantages and disadvantages, but each is an easy way to help you stay submerged when swimming underwater.
As always, be sure to swim with a buddy when swimming underwater as water blackouts can easily occur.
In addition, don’t forget that as you exhale, you are losing oxygen. Ensure you retain enough energy and air to get back to the surface safely.