‘Playing dead’, ‘Sinking’ and ‘Falling’ – Why these sometimes unpopular terms are useful for non- swimmers
“ Given that non-swimmers believe they have to do something to stop themselves from drowning, it isn’t surprising that some people don’t like the idea of sinking, falling or playing dead. These are words it might seem sensible to avoid.”
To experience your own buoyancy, you haven’t got to do anything. In fact, you’ve got to do nothing. Which isn’t something you can do!
The support of the water is deeper than most people imagine it to be. So non-swimmers need to be coaxed into allowing themselves to go deeper, to ‘sink to find my own float rate’ as somebody put it in a lesson today.
But going deeper isn’t a doing thing, it’s an allowing thing. Learners need to commit to finding the support of water, to give the weight of their head and chest to the water, to let themselves sink or fall into the support of the water, which, while it may only be a hair’s breadth away from where they think it is, is the unknown.
What stops people experiencing the support of the water, aka floating, is ‘doing’. And what causes the idea that we have to do something is fear. In other words, the doing we feel we need to do is driven by our survival reflexes. Tightening the neck, holding the breath, reaching and grasping with the hands, kicking the legs. All these things need to stop.
Given that non-swimmers believe they have to do something to stop themselves from drowning, it isn’t surprising that some people don’t like the idea of sinking, falling or playing dead. These are words it might seem sensible to avoid. But the reason people don’t like these words is the very reason they’re needed. We need to challenge our own fear reflexes, with the power of our ability to make a decision.
Non- swimmers need to stop fighting for survival, give it all up, let it all go. But this isn’t something that doing can lead to. It’s more of a mental thing, a decision to trust the water. It’s the doing of life that non-swimmers need to stop.So if you’re learning to swim, try playing dead. When you give it all up and let go you’ll discover a new sense of being supported by water.