Shallow Water Swimming vs. Deep Water Swimming

One of the biggest challenges for many new swimmers is venturing into the deep end of the pool.
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Swimming in deep water can differ from swimming in shallow water in several ways. Not only does deep water present a psychological challenge for some, it also presents dangers, challenges and benefits. Motivation to swim in deeper water can come from a desire to overcome fear, the urge to explore a new environment or try something new, or simply because swimming in deeper water allows for better swimming performance.

Overcoming Fear of Deep Water

Learning to swim and feeling comfortable in deep water do not necessarily go hand in hand. You can know how to swim, and in fact be able to swim well, in water that is not over your head, but still fear the deep end of the pool. While it is important to face your fear, it should be done under the watchful eye of a lifeguard, and it can be very helpful to work with a swim instructor who specializes in teaching swimmers who are terrified of water.

Motivation to Swim Deeper

Venturing from shallow to deeper water can open up whole new worlds.

The challenge of overcoming fear of deep water can be one motivating factor for venturing out over your head, but other attractions include the desire to explore a new environment and the sheer pleasure of freedom from gravity experienced when swimming in deep water. Many swimmers will tell you that swimming, especially in deep water, feels like flying. Once comfortable in deep water, swimmers can enjoy exploring a whole new world, especially if they learn to snorkel or SCUBA dive.

Deep Water Diving

Risk can increase as you dive into deeper waters.

Divers usually learn during SCUBA training not to dive deeper than 130 feet because of the increased risks of deeper water. These risks, according to Divers Alert Network, include a greater likelihood for serious problems and limited knowledge about the physiological effects of deep water diving. There are many factors that can impact a diver swimming in deep water, explains DAN, including water temperature, visibility and the diver’s own level of experience. Diving at 60 feet in cold water with limited visibility can be more dangerous than diving at 100 feet, for example, and the experience level of the diver can also play a big part in safety.

Swimmer Speed and Pool Depth

Swimmers kick underwater longer after starts and turns now than they did in years past.

A swimmer’s speed can be impacted by the depth of a pool. Water pulled along with the swimmer by friction as she swims through the water moves at the same speed as the swimmer, explains Aquatics International, but when the water comes into contact with a stationary surface it creates drag, slowing the swimmer down. Because of this, the swimmer may feel that she can swim faster in deeper water, and because competitive swimmers now spend more time underwater with the butterfly kick after starts and turns than they did only a couple of decades ago, swimming pools designed with a deeper shallow end are considered by some swimmers to be “faster” pools.

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