Is swimming required for snorkeling? (Don’t snorkel before you read this)


Is swimming skill essential for snorkelling and is it safe for a non-swimmer to snorkel?

Is swimming required for snorkeling? (Don't snorkel before you read this)

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If you’re asking the question ‘Is swimming required for snorkeling?’ Whilst the answer is potentially a ‘NO,’ in my opinion the answer should be an emphatic ‘YES,’ you should be able to swim before you go snorkeling. I say this for safety reasons, if you are a non-swimmer, you should learn to swim before you go into the water. I’m not talking about being a strong swimmer (you’re not going to be entering into the Olympics). Basic swimming competency is all that’s necessary.

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Is swimming required for snorkeling?

Is swimming required for snorkeling

In my opinion you should not go snorkeling if you aren’t able to swim. So if you were wondering whether swimming is required for snorkeling;, assume the answer is a ‘yes it is.’ This is especially true in deeper water and especially in water that is deeper than head height.

You can’t really go snorkeling if you can’t swim, as snorkeling requires you to float on the surface with your head in the water and to ‘swim‘ along. This is the case whether or not you use fins (flippers for some) to snorkel with.

Many snorkelers (myself included) prefer to snorkel with fins. Swimming or snorkeling with fins makes it so much easier to make headway when snorkeling.

Fins help to propel you through the water much faster. So you save your energy. Plus fins will also help you to dive down under the water with ease too, which is known as duck diving.

Having said all that about a swimming skill being essential, I’m not talking about needing to be a strong swimmer. You only need basic swimming skills. Please use your common sense.

Swimming provides confidence in the water

To be able to snorkel, you will need to be confident in the water. Being able to swim first will give you the confidence you need. It will also allow you to be safe when you are in the water.

Whenever you enter the water, whether this is in a swimming pool, a lake or the sea, you need to be able to swim first.

If you get into trouble, you need to be able to swim to safety.

Get lessons to swim before you go snorkeling

Get lessons to swim before you go snorkeling

If you are a non-swimmer, I suggest you get some swimming lessons first.

You can get swimming lessons at your local gym (if it has a swimming pool). Alternatively, get lessons at your neighbourhood swimming pool.

You may even be able to find someone local to you who has a private swimming pool, where they provide private swimming lessons too.

Being in or near water is about confidence and learning to snorkel requires you to be confident in the water.

Steps to safe snorkeling

Steps to safe snorkeling

The three safe steps to learning how to snorkel:

  • #1 Snorkeling step – Step one is to learn to swim without a snorkel and without fins.
  • #2 Snorkeling step – Step two is to learn how to snorkel in a safe sheltered area – click this link to discover more about how to learn how to snorkel.
  • #3 Snorkeling step – Step 3 is about progressing your snorkeling skills and becoming more confident. This would include learning how to duck dive.

If you insist on going snorkeling without first learning how to swim

If you are intent on going snorkeling before you learn how to swim, please at least use a life vest or a pool noodleOpens in a new tab..

Also, beware of currents and rip tides. You could be merrily snorkeling on the surface, with your buoyancy aid keeping you afloat, but what would you do if you were suddenly swept out to sea in a current. Your buoyancy aid will keep you afloat in this situation, but it won’t prevent you from being swept away.

In this situation you need to be able remain calm. You also need to be able to ‘swim‘ back to shore. But always remember, never try to swim against a current or riptide, always swim across the current. This applies to both basic swimmers and strong swimmers.

But in truth there should be no excuse if you are a non-swimmer for not learning how to swim before you go into the water, and this is irrespective of whether you are snorkelling or not.

Take a support buddy

The other option if you are a non-swimmer is to take with you a snorkel buddy who can swim. This way if you get into difficulty, they will be able to help you. Having said this, you are much better off learning to swim yourself. Otherwise what could happen is you put your buddy into danger too.

More Reading: How do I get a dive buddy? (5 easy ways to find a dive buddy)Opens in a new tab.

I hope you enjoyed this article about ‘is swimming required for snorkeling?’

I’d love to hear from you. Tell us about your adventures of diving and snorkeling, in the comments below. Please also share your photos. Either from your underwater cameras or videos from your waterproof Gopro’s!

If this article hasn’t answered all of your questions. If you have more questions either about snorkeling or types of scuba diving (or specifically about ‘Is swimming required for snorkeling?’), please comment below with your questions.

There will also be many more articles about scuba diving (and snorkeling) for you to read and learn about these fabulous sports.

Have fun and be safe!

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