Are swimming skills essential for snorkelling and is it safe for a non-swimmer to snorkel?
Snorkelling is a great sport to enjoy for the whole family. But you may be wondering is swimming required for snorkeling, especially if you have young children who can swim but not very well, or who are learning to swim.
This is why it’s important to know whether you can snorkel if you can’t swim. It’s not safe to go snorkeling if you can’t swim as snorkeling requires you ‘swim’ along whilst floating on the surface with your head in the water, whether or not you use fins to propel you. But snorkeling doesn’t require a swimming stroke to help propel you through the water using your arms.
As an aside, in this article about where to find great white sharks, you may be as surprised as I was to discover some of the places where you find great white sharks! Place number 6 is the one that surprised me the most, but if you live in the States, you may be more surprised at places two, three and four, especially if you’re snorkeling in these areas.
Swimming skills for snorkeling and can you snorkel if you can’t swim
The only swimming skills you need for snorkeling is being able to kick your feet to propel you along, as you don’t need to use your arms. But your swimming skills need to be sufficient for you to be confident to swim or snorkel in water when it’s out of your depth (i.e. deeper than standing depth).
So you shouldn’t snorkel if you can’t swim, but your swimming skills need only be to be able to do doggy paddle. But when you snorkel you just use your legs and not your arms. The same is true if you know how to swim using breast-stroke or front-crawl, as you only use your legs when you snorkel.
However, it’s much better to use fins when you snorkel, as you use less energy. It’s also easier to duck dive (or free dive) with fins too. Fins help to propel you through the water much faster.
Many snorkelers (myself included) prefer to snorkel with fins. Swimming or snorkeling with fins makes it so much easier to make headway when snorkeling.
It would be far safer for you or your kids if your swimming skills include being able to at least swim the length of a full-size swimming pool.
I would therefore say that swimming is required for snorkeling, but not necessarily a strong swimmer. You only need basic swimming skills. But please use your common sense.
Swimming gives confidence to snorkelers in the water
To be able to snorkel you must be confident in the water. Being able to swim will give you the confidence you need. Swimming skills are essential for you to be safe when you’re snorkeling.
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.
How to do snorkeling without knowing swimming?
The best way to snorkel without knowing how to swim is to get lessons on how to swim first. Learning how to swim first will give you that all important confidence in the water when you first start snorkelling, which means you will enjoy it more.
Get lessons to swim before you go snorkeling
If you are a non-swimmer I suggest you get some swimming lessons before you start snorkeling. 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 who might be happy to allow you private swimming lessons.
Being in or near water is about confidence and learning to snorkel requires you to be confident in the water.
Steps to safe snorkeling
The three safe steps to learning how to snorkel:
- #1 Snorkelling step – Step one is to learn how to swim without a snorkel and without fins.
- #2 Snorkelling 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 Snorkelling step – Step three is about progressing your snorkeling skills to become more confident. This includes learning how to duck dive.
Snorkelling vest for non swimmers if you insist on going snorkeling without knowing how to swim
Will snorkel vest keep you afloat?
A snorkel vest should keep you afloat and help with your buoyancy and will even help if you become unconscious or exhausted, as it should turn you on to your back so your face is out of the water. But be careful you don’t go too far out of your depth if you’re not a very strong swimmer.
Is snorkeling safe for non swimmers?
Snorkelling is only safe for non swimmers if you snorkel in a protected area with no tides or currents and you use a life vest or snorkeling vest for buoyancy.
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.
Can you scuba dive if you can’t swim?
Before you can scuba dive you must be able to swim at least 200 metres. When you start to learn how to scuba dive your first test is to swim 200 metres of a swimming pool. Swimming and scuba diving is also about confidence too. But it’s also about being able to get yourself out of trouble too.
You may be interested to read this article about scuba diving tips for non swimmers.
In conclusion to is swimming required for snorkeling
If want to know is swimming required for snorkeling, the answer is possibly ‘NO,’ if you use a snorkelling vest, but for your own safety the answer should be ‘YES‘.
But if you’re reading this article to work out can your children can snorkel if they can’t swim, as a responsible parent you should pay for lessons for your kids to learn how to swim before they go snorkelling.
Please don’t forget to take a look at this article about where to find great white sharks, you may be as surprised as I was to discover some of the places where you find great white sharks! Place number 6 is the one that surprised me the most, but if you live in the States, you may be more surprised at places two, three and four.
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!