Chapter Ten--Treading
The Home Pool


Treading Water~Individual
(With Illustrations)

In order for Individual swimmers to know if they are ready to learn the next step--treading water--they need to have accomplished and mastered the following:

Ask yourself--

ONE: Am I able to swim the Front Crawl at least a distance of twenty feet without any problems other than a lack of endurance?

TWO: Have I ALSO mastered and and am able to maintain at least one of the back floats for two minutes or longer?


You must NOT practice water treading in deep water if you have not yet accomplished the above two requirements. Until then, keep practicing the Front Crawl and back floats at the shallow end. When you are swimming well enough and are able to easily maintain a back float, have your swim partner or a lifeguard check your ability and critique those tasks.

Most importantly: DO NOT GO TO THE DEEP END BY YOURSELF! Though by now you probably feel perfectly safe in shallow water and no longer have trauma by being in a pool, it's still not wise to be in deep water without an experienced swimmer with you. The thought of being in water over your head may cause an unexpected panic reaction which must be avoided. As a caution, the Lifeguards should also be informed when you are doing this for the first time.

After passing the two tests, continue with this lesson. If you need more practice or are overly apprehensive, stay where you are and keep reviewing and practicing the progressions until you are ready.


If you haven't read Chapter Ten--Treading Water, please read it now. Progressions are similar for both Individual and Instructor, especially information about relaxed vs tensed muscles. Below this paragraph you will find exclusive progressions for the Individual and illustrations for correct hand and leg movements.


Progressions for Treading Water~Individual

1--Practice the hand movement first either in shallow water or by watching yourself in a mirror. See illustration below for sculling with hands:

1~~Bring hands together like you're about to clap them.
2~~Don't clap hands but pass one above the other.
3~~Bend wrists downward.
4~~Move hands away with a downward push.
5~~Move parted hands slightly beyond shoulders.
6~~Turn wrists so hands are facing each other.
7~~Bring hands together like you are about to clap.
8~~Pass one hand above the other, etc.

Continue back and forth motions slowly and rhythmically.
Practice several minutes or until mastered.

1--With an experienced swimmer near you and holding onto pool side, slowly slide toward the deep end.

2--In deep end (preferably a depth only slightly over your head) have experienced swimmer demonstrate the sculling motion for you.

3--Take a deep breath and relax frontal muscles. Remember, a relaxed body is a floating body!

4--Make certain that an experienced swimmer and/or a lifeguard is watching you. Remove one hand from side, then the other.

5--Have experienced swimmer lift your elbow after you let loose from the side and help you back. Do this at least 5 X.

6--This may be as far as you care to go for the first time. If so, return to the shallow end by sliding hands along pool side as before. If you prefer, you may continue with the following tasks.

7--ONLY If you are at ease with # 5, and an experienced swimmer is with you, let loose of the side and perforrn the sculling motion you practiced earlier. Make sure the experienced swimmer is lightly touching your elbow as you scull.

NOTE: If at any time you become apprehensive about being in the deep end--return to shallow water immediately! You may always practice another day as you become more adjusted to it.

8--When you are sculling well and keeping your face above water--time yourself. If you can scull a full minute with face above water and are totally at ease you are ready for the leg movement. You must still have the experienced swimmer near you, however, to help you to the side if needed.

9--Though treading water is similar to riding a bicycle, unlike bike riding the knees do not lift up as high. Study the illustration below:

(For ease of explanation legs are shown lifted higher than recommended)

10-Practice treading water. Perform the leg motion alone for 20 seconds or more. Gradually add the arm movements. You will find that working legs and arms at the same time keeps your head well above water. Shoulders or chest may even be above water depending upon body weight, specific gravity, strength, etc.

11-At the beginning of each swim session, practice treading water for a few minutes. Do not SWIM to the deep end at this time, but slide hands along pool side to enter deep end. Always make certain that the Lifeguard knows what you plan to do. Continue perfecting your strokes and floats at the shallow end. There are special ways for the Water-Shy to ease into deeper water which will be coverved in a later chapter.


Please read Frequent Problems at end of Chapter Ten.

1--As an Individual, it's most important to relax. Any tenseness or anxiety may cause you to sink below the water level. Though it's unlikely you would sink more than a few inches, merely having your nose underwater may be frightening enough to cause you to panic.

2--As stated in Chapter Ten, arching the neck backward and/or bringing knees up too high while treading will cause the body go into a back float position. If this occurs drop head down and bend forward at the waist. Be certain that legs are kept under your body and not floating upward as you perform their treading motion.


Chapter 11, Handling Water Emergencies/Elementary Backstroke
The Home Pool
To Top of Page