Learn How to Swim

Bald Eagle State Park beach by the lake

Image: commons.wikimedia.org

Swimming is an aerobic workout, but unlike other types of physical exercise, it works the body without harsh impact on the joints. There are pools, lakes and even the ocean where you can go swimming while being in a state park. Check out these steps to learn how to swim before summer is over!

Step 1: Let Go of Fear

Swimming in pool with lifeguard

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You might be afraid of drowning, which is a natural feeling, so don’t try swimming alone. Always go swimming with another person who knows how to swim such as a lifeguard on duty.

Step 2: Get Used to Floating

Woman holding on to pool wall, kicking

Image: www.feelforthewater.com

Start out in the shallow end. While in the water, hold on to the side of the pool or dock, allowing your legs to float behind you. Practice floating on your stomach and back like this until you become accustomed to floating in the water. When you feel you are ready, let go of what ever you are holding onto. To remain stable, put out your arms at a right angle so that your body is in a “T” shape. Remaining in the shallow end allows you to stand up if you feel unsafe. In time, you will get used to water being around your ears, nose and mouth. As you progress, move towards the deeper end to attempt floating from there.

Step 3: Practice Exhaling Underwater

Take a deep breath and put your face underwater. Slowly exhale out of your nose until you’re out of breath and then come back up. If you are uncomfortable exhaling through your nose, you can hold it closed or wear a nose plug and exhale through your mouth while swimming.

Step 4: Swim with a Kickboard

Swimming with kick board in pool

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Use a flotation device in this step. It’s better not to use arm support or anything around your waist because it may interfere with your swimming. Hold the kickboard or noodle in front of you with straight arms. Push off from the wall and scissor kick with your legs straight out behind you. Rotate your head to the side to breathe.

Step 5: Laps Using Arms

Continue doing step 4, but now lift one arm off the kickboard, pulling down through the water and lifting, and then returning your arm to its starting position. Switch arms and repeat. Rest and repeat.

Step 6: Letting Go of Kickboard

One person swimming laps

Image: www.active.com

If you are ready and confident enough, push the flotation device out in front of you and start swimming towards it. Begin your freestyle stroke, scissor kicking, straight arms in front of you and side breathing. Practice this for a few times. The more practice you have, the better you will be able to swim.


  • If you are swimming in the ocean and get caught in a riptide, swim sideways, parallel to the shore. Swim with the longest stroke, allowing plenty of room to breathe. Keep swimming until you are out of the riptide and call out for help if you can.
  • It is important to know how to get out of a river current. Aim to swim diagonally toward the shoreline that goes with the current.
  • Try to eat an hour before you go swimming.
  • Use a floating device or life jacket if you are nervous about the water.
  • Swimming goggles can be useful if you want to swim underwater.
People swimming in lake with trees in background

Image: www.openwaterpacific.org

To find a state park with a pool or a swimming area close to home, download your state’s Pocket Ranger® app and use the “Nearest Me” feature.

Suggested Gear List:

  • Sunscreen
  • Swimwear
  • Life Jacket

Check out Pocket Ranger® Gear Store for these items and so much more!

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