Safe Water Entries – Water Safety Training
These safe water entries are for use in the pool or open water. Include them in your personal training and/or group water safety classes.
You can also adapt them for basic water rescue techniques.
When practicing pool or open water swimming safety, be sure to follow all water safety rules. Having a water safety instructor present is a good idea.
- Wade entry
- Slide entry
- Step off entry
- High level entry
- Height vs Water Depth
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Safe Water Entries
What is the safest way to enter the water?
The answer to this question depends on the circumstance. In general, you should always enter shallow or unknown waters feet first. Unknown waters are when you are unsure of the water depth, and/or if you can’t see what lays beneath the surface.
When possible, the wade entry is the best way to enter unknown waters.
It is entering the water with a slow walk. Feel your way forward with your feet until the water is chest deep, then start to swim.
Use the slide entry for shallow or unknown waters with a steep angled edge, such as a pool edge. It is also useful in crowded areas since it is easier to control than other entry methods.
The slide entry is very simple. Sit down with your feet/legs hanging down into (or above) the water. Use your hands to slide yourself into the water.
For shallow waters, once your feet are firm, continue forward using the wade entry.
If speed is a factor and you plan to push off the wall once you are in the water, don’t push too hard during the slide entry. If you are too far away from the edge you won’t be able to do a good push off, which is where your initial propulsion comes from.
When entering shallow or unknown waters, and you are too high for a slide entry, use the step-off.
Step off your platform into the water. Keep your knees flexed and be ready to absorb any impact in case you hit the floor.
You can then wade or swim depending on the situation.
Only use the stride entry when you know the water is at least 1.5 meters deep, and the slide entry is not appropriate. This is the best method to use when jumping into deep waters.
One of the big advantages of the stride entry is that you keep your head above the water. This means you can keep your sight on something, such as a drowning victim.
Put your arms out to your sides and step one foot out in front of you. Planted your foot well so you don’t slip. Keep looking at your target the whole time.
Look up a little as you lean forward into the water.
Slap your hands down as you hit the water.
Looking up and slapping down helps to keep your head above the water.
This is good to use when you have to enter the water from a height of 3+ meters. You must be sure that the water depth is appropriate for the height you are jumping from. Also ensure that your landing zone is a large enough area-wise, i.e., length and width.
Unlike all the previous entry methods, the high-level entry is not safe to do while carrying gear. If you have a backpack or anything else, throw it in before jumping.
Consider wearing long clothing as it will help protect your body.
Take a large breath and jump away from the surface. You don’t want to hit anything on the way down.
Cross your ankles and place your hands in fists in front of your thighs. This puts your arms down and close to your body.
Bend your knees a little.
Look straight ahead at the horizon and arch your back. Looking down or up will cause you to lean forward or back respectively. Arching your back will help keep you straight. You want to hit the water as vertical and straight as possible.
Allow your knees to flex once you hit the water. This will help slow you down.
Height vs Water Depth
The higher your jumping-off platform, the deeper the water needs to be.
The best way to judge is if you have seen others do it, and even then you must be very careful.
Note: All these calculations are only approximate so it is easy to do them in your head. The results are good enough to use.
Start with at least 2.5 meters (m) of water depth. If you’re jumping from higher than 1.5 m you need to add an extra 0.6 m of depth for every 3 m increase in height.
A simple but effective way to calculate your height from the water is to drop something into it. Any solid object that won’t catch air will work, like a rock. Time how long it takes to hit the water.
Multiply that number by itself, and then multiply that answer by 16, i.e., (x⌃2) x 16.
This gives you the approximate height in feet. Multiply it by 0.3 to convert it into meters.
Calculating Water Depth
Get a long stick (or something similar) and put it in the water until it hits the floor. Measure how much of it got wet.
This is easy in theory but hard in practice.
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In this article, you learned water entry techniques for swimming and water safety. Key things to consider when choosing a safe water entry are:
- Your relative position to the water
- Water depth
- The characteristics of the water
In general, the best course of action is to enter all water feet first and with care.
Include these techniques in your water safety training. They are good water safety activities for children and adults alike.
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