Learn to Swim: Tips for Treading Water


There are many things that beginners in swimming need to learn, and one of the most important is treading water. Basically, it is all about the movement of the limbs to help you stay afloat. This is a basic survival skill you need to master. The key here is to use as less energy as possible to continuously tread without easily being tired.

Treading allows you to stay in an area where water is too deep, making it impossible to keep your feet on the ground. To do this right, three parts should work simultaneously – head, legs, and arms. You also need to master different kicks and strokes.

Clueless about how to tread water? Keep on reading and learn from the tips we’ll share in this article.

A Step-by-Step Guide on How to Tread Water

In this section, we’ll talk about the specific steps that you need to follow when treading in water, as well as the techniques that you have to master, such as the types of kicks and the different phases.

1. Assume the Right Position

Like everything when it comes to swimming, one of the most important is to make sure that you position your body properly. This makes you more efficient in your movements, which will allow you to exert little energy and not easily be tired.

As you tread, your body needs to stay upright. Keep your head up and straight. The head should be above the surface of the water. If your body is in a horizontal position, this is technically swimming and not treading.

2. Regulate Your Breathing

Now that your body is in the right position, the next thing to do is to mind your breathing. The right breathing technique will let you become wiser with how you use your energy, so this is important to practice. Regulate your breathing slowly, which will help to keep you calm. This way, you will have more energy to stay afloat and to tread longer.

3. Move Your Arms and Legs

Once you are comfortable with your position and you are now floating in the water, it is time to move your arms and legs. The movement of the arms should be horizontal. Keep your hand closed during the movement to keep the body up.

Meanwhile, for the legs, move it back and forth in a circular motion as if you are cycling. Avoid pointing your feet as this can make it stiff, and hence, you will find it harder to move. Constantly kick your feet to stay floating in the water.

4. Kick the Right Way

One of the most important parts of treading water correctly is the kick. In this case, there are two ways to do this. The first is through a technique called a modified breaststroke. This is an asymmetrical type of full leg kick wherein you derive the power from your hips. At its most basic, this is a frog kick combined with a breaststroke. The difference is that the legs don’t move symmetrically. Instead, they move alternately.

To do the modified breaststroke correctly, there are two feet positions that you need to know. The first one is flexed foot. First, stand straight on a flat surface and raise your toes as high as possible. Meanwhile, for the pointed foot, line your shins with your toes, pointing away from the knees.

Now that you know how to position your feet, the next thing to learn is how to do the two phases. The first phase is the power phase, which is where you get the power to tread. The recovery phase, on the other hand, resets your legs and prepares it for the next move.

Another kick that you should learn to tread water is the egg-beater kick. The name is a reference to the way you do this kick, which resembles how an egg-beater works. It uses a smaller and downward thrust that involves only one foot. Like the modified breaststroke, there are also two parts – the power phase and the recovery phase.

When doing the egg-beater kick, you can divide it into four parts – up flex, out flex, and thrust. Combine these three parts to make a single continuous motion, which will help you to stay afloat. Your legs will constantly rotate. While one leg is in the power phase, the other leg should already be in the recovery phase. Raise your one knee on the water in such a way that it will be the same level as your hips. Pay attention to the width of your legs. It should be shoulder-width apart.

The next part is the out flex, which is also the most important. Bring your recovering knee down to the bottom. Keep the flex foot position and drive the foot as far away from the center of your body as possible. The farther you kick your foot out of your body’s center, the more power you will be able to generate.

Lastly, for the power phase of the egg-beater kick, you need to thrust your foot. This drives down the foot to the bottom of the water, which brings you back in your original position.

Pro Tips

Aside from following the steps that have been mentioned above, take note of these tips to make treading water a lot easier.

  • Hold your breath while you are in the water. This makes it easier to stay buoyant. Your lungs work like balloons. If you fill it with air, you will find it easier to stay afloat even without exerting too much effort.
  • Want an easier way to stay afloat? The best thing to do is to hold on a flotation device. Aside from being effortless, this allows you to conserve your energy. However, a flotation device is not always available, especially in emergency situations when survival is crucial.
  • Stay as calm as possible. It is common for most people to panic, especially when it is an emergency situation where survival is crucial. If you are panicky, you might end up forgetting how to tread water properly because your mind is pre-occupied.
  • The coordination of the upper and lower body will also be crucial when you tread water. Along with timing, it makes sure that your head stays on the top of the water and that your body stays afloat.


When learning to swim, treading water is one of the most important techniques you need to master. Thankfully, you don’t need to be an expert to do it right. From the position of the body to the kicking techniques, pay attention to the steps mentioned above to make it easier for your body to stay afloat without wasting energy.

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