Wednesday, December 05, 2012

Floating for lifesaving

I’m sure most of you would have read/heard/watched the story of four divers getting swept away by a current in the sea off Mount Lavinia recently. Rather miraculously, all four were found nearly after 24 hours. When interviewed, the divers told the media how they kept floating for more than a day at sea.

There are few important lessons that could be learned thanks to these individuals' endurance. One, don’t swim against a current. It’s a waste of energy and you’ll ultimately end up tiring yourself and get cramped (and eventually drown, if no help arrives). Two, stay calm. Because you are in the middle of nowhere and panicking will not help. Three, float. Don’t swim. Why? Again because you’re in unknown territory and not sure whether you’ll reach a land or a safe place. Hopefully, your endurance holds-up and help arrives. But since it’s not a very energy-consuming exercise, you may even swim slowly towards a marked direction.

What do they mean by float? Do we just float like that? Answer is no. You’ve got to learn, relax & practice it. Technique-wise you’ll need to master the kicks and build-up endurance. This is where basic lifesaving lessons could help. I often see swimming classes advertised in papers, websites etc., stating all the strokes in the world. But in a scenario as above, all the swimming in the world may not be the most needed or appropriate. So I propose that every coach should stress on teaching floating techniques to their students. I’m not rejecting the need of actual swimming. But lifesaving methods should be treated as a life skill as far as I’m concerned.