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Do you have to know how to swim to snorkel? Can non-swimmers enjoy snorkeling? These are the questions I often hear from people who want to experience snorkeling. You can still enjoy snorkeling even if you are a non-swimmer. Here is how to do it in the right way.
Snorkeling is an exhilarating activity if you love exploring the colorful underwater world. Since the water covers 71% of the entire planet, there is a lot that snorkelers can explore. However, for first-time snorkelers and non-swimmers, it is terrifying to get into the water.
You might also be asking, “do you have to be a good swimmer to snorkel“?
Remember that enjoying snorkeling doesn’t mean you should have to be a good swimmer or know how to swim to snorkel. Also, there is no need to attend a certification course or haul a bag packed with heavy equipment to appreciate the incredible underwater world.
All that’s necessary to enjoy snorkeling is a tiny set of well-fitted gear and basic snorkeling skills. But what if you are a non-swimmer? Do you have to know how to swim to snorkel?
This article will address some frequently asked questions while providing valuable tips on making your snorkeling adventure safe, comfortable, and enjoyable.
So, let’s get started!
Do You Have to Know How to Swim to Snorkel?
So, do you have to be an excellent swimmer to snorkel? Well, the short answer is no. Snorkeling is a surface water sport that requires very little swimming and mainly involves floating. We have a lot of non-swimmers who snorkel all the time. However, it is still important to prepare ahead of time and know how to do it correctly.
Moreover, there is equipment that can help non-swimmers to get into the water and enjoy snorkeling. These include wetsuits, life jackets, fins, etc. These snorkeling gear help first-time snorkelers and non-swimmers to keep floating on the water with minimal swimming skills.
However, I recommend you have some basic swimming skills to enjoy a comfortable snorkeling experience. Now, let’s discuss the differences between snorkeling and traditional swimming.
Differences between Swimming and Snorkeling
Here are the main differences that will address the question, “do you have to know how to swim to snorkel?”
While you are in the water and enjoying swimming, you have to stretch your body out and move forward with the help of your hands and legs. The activity can be exhausting for inexperienced swimmers as they need to swing their arms over their shoulders while also using their legs to kick constantly.
In contrast, snorkeling doesn’t need much body movement. You move and float slowly, allowing you to explore the sea life closely. In addition, you also don’t need to move your arms as you do when swimming. Instead, you can either have your arms in a cross position or have them on the sides.
For swimming, it is essential to use your arms and legs to stay afloat constantly. This can be tiring for inexperienced swimmers. In addition, you also need to coordinate your breathing pattern, arms, and legs.
On the other hand, inexperienced or first-time snorkelers can benefit from a personal floating device (PFD). It is a life jacket designed to keep you afloat on the water’s surface. As long as you have an inflated PFD, you will keep floating.
Gear vs. No Gear
Another difference between swimming is snorkeling is gear. Except for using your arms and legs, you don’t need any equipment to swim and stay afloat. However, you will need some equipment for snorkeling, such as a snorkeling mask and a fin.
Since snorkeling is all about floating slowly to observe the underwater world, snorkeling equipment lets you do that. Snorkeling masks also come with a nose pocket to prevent water from getting into your nose, irritating first-time snorkelers.
In addition to a snorkeling mask, you can also use a tube, going from your mouth to the water surface, allowing you to breathe comfortably.
Furthermore, other snorkeling gear includes life jackets, flippers, and fins. While the fins are great for efficient movement in the water, flappers help you swim comfortably without exertion.
Different Water Conditions
Different water conditions are another difference between snorkeling and swimming. While swimming can be done in a calm like swimming pool water, snorkeling means you will be in the ocean to explore the underwater world.
In addition, since the ocean waters are salty and denser than fresh waters, it is easy to float in the ocean.
Now, let’s discuss whether do you have to swim to snorkel?
Do You Have to Be a Good Swimmer to Snorkel?
A few challenges that non-swimmer might face while snorkeling includes:
Snorkeling in the calm, flat ocean waters is relatively easy, even if you are a non-swimmer. However, remember that conditions can change instantly with the wind creating waves. These waves can make snorkeling uncomfortable by pushing you around and removing your mask.
Current is another challenge while you are on the water. Even for experienced snorkelers, it can push you out, taking you away from shore very quickly. Especially for non-swimmers, currents can be substantial, making them struggle to swim against the current.
It is doubtful that your snorkeling equipment fails to work. However, if the equipment stops working while you are in the water, it can be life-threatening. For instance, water leaking into your snorkeling mask is a common issue that can make it hard to breathe underwater.
Moreover, your snorkel can also cause a problem if water gets in. In such circumstances, you may swallow it, leading you to choke.
Tips: Do You Have to Swim to Snorkel?
Here are a few essential tips for first-time snorkelers so you can get the best snorkeling experience while staying safe beneath the surface.
Acquire Basic Swimming Skills
Remember that no law states you have to know how to swim to snorkel. Still, acquiring basic swimming skills is essential. It doesn’t mean that you have to know all the different strokes or be a professional swimmer, but knowing how to dog paddle in the water is essential.
Moreover, if you want to experience snorkeling but aren’t a good swimmer, you can wear a life jacket as an alternative to swimming. In addition, having a float vest that goes around the waist can also be another option.
Protect Yourself from Sun
Unfortunately, a lot of first-time snorkelers underestimate the sun’s rays. Remember that they can get you to burn severely even when you are in the water. The most common target is the back of your thighs. In addition, your arms, shoulders, and the back of your neck can get fried if you don’t have protection from the sun.
One of the best ways to protect you from the sun is to get a well-fitted wetsuit. However, if you are reluctant to wear anything more than a bathing suit, make sure you have a waterproof, good-quality, powerful sunscreen. Furthermore, wear a hat too, which will cover your scalp.
Ensure You Have Well-Fitted Gear
Ensuring that your fin and mask fit you well is critical. Not only will it work efficiently, but it will keep you comfortable in the water as well. Additionally, if you rent the gear on vacation, be pickier and rent high-quality equipment that fits you well. Alternatively, testing the kit in a swimming pool is always smart before going into the ocean.
Drink Liquid Before, During, and After
Another vital factor to remember is that keeping yourself hydrated while snorkeling is essential. While there will be water all around you, snorkeling in the hot sun can cause dehydration. In addition, salt in ocean water is also known for dehydrating the skin.
So, drink a lot of water before, during, and after snorkeling. Regular breaks during snorkeling are another way to sip more liquid to stay hydrated.
Use Anti-Fog Gel on the Inside of Your Mask
Have you seen a car’s windshield fogged up on a cold day? Similarly, your snorkeling mask can become foggy as you warm up. So, buying an anti-fog gel and pasting it inside your snorkeling mask before going into the water is essential. Additionally, ensure the gel you purchase is non-toxic to avoid harming fish and reefs.
Learn Deep Breathing Techniques
Practicing how to breathe deeply is a skill that can help you prevent dizziness, stay calm and relaxed, and improve your safety while in the water. Remember that living through a snorkel means you are putting more workload on your lungs due to the additional respiratory dead space.
Moreover, if you cannot exchange air efficiency through your snorkel, it can build up carbon dioxide in the blood, making you feel dizzy. That’s where deep breathing techniques come in handy to prevent these issues.
So, before you take off for a water adventure, practice diaphragmatic breathing, which involves inhaling and exhaling slowly and deeply. Furthermore, you can try these techniques without a snorkel and then progress to practicing with a snorkel tube in your mouth while on land. Once you feel confident, try the same in confined, shallow waters.
Snorkeling Gear for Non-Swimmers
Whether you are an experienced or a first-timer snorkeler, it is always wise to keep your snorkeling equipment ready ahead of time. Ensure that your snorkeling gear is appropriate and well-fitted, especially your mask. Remember that a too big and loose mask can cause problems as the water can get in quickly.
Additionally, beards, mustaches, or facial hair sometimes cause water to enter your eyes. So, ensure to invest in comfortable snorkeling gear before making a purchase. Here is a bucket of valuable snorkeling equipment you will need for an enjoyable and safe snorkeling excursion.
Leave the question “do you have to know how to swim to snorkel?” aside. The most important thing that you need for snorkeling is a snorkel. This is the device that will help you with breathing when you are busy exploring the underwater world. For first-time snorkelers, it would be great to practice puffs and learn how to time them.
Additionally, there are two main types of snorkels available on the market. You can either get a full-face or a half-face snorkel. Moreover, regardless of the type of snorkel, ensure it is correctly attached to the mask’s straps.
Furthermore, I won’t recommend long snorkel tubes if you are a first-timer. You might struggle to breathe in the water. Also, remember that you always need to purchase a snorkel as you can rent or utilize the ones offered by snorkeling companies.
Snorkeling masks have become increasingly popular in recent years due to various reasons. For instance, one of the most significant advantages of a diving or snorkeling mask is that you don’t need to have a physical snorkel in your mouth. They also help you breathe easily through your mouth and nose, even in water.
Additionally, snorkeling masks enable you to continue making saliva and enjoy snorkeling. They are also comfortable, make breathing more manageable, and offer a broader field view than regular snorkeling goggles.
So, do you have to be an excellent swimmer to snorkel? Well, not really if you have a snorkel vest on. There are plenty of life-saving reasons to wear a snorkel jacket, especially if you are a non-swimmer. While wearing one might feel a little dorky, you would be an intelligent dork.
Snorkeling vests save thousands of lives every year. If you get exhausted or unconscious while snorkeling, a snorkel vest will help keep you afloat while keeping your mouth out of water. A few reasons why both experienced and first-time snorkelers should wear a snorkel vest include:
- They provide extra buoyancy.
- You can easily swim in the water even if you are a non-swimmer.
- Snorkel vests are waterproof. They come with pockets that you can use to keep your valuables.
Similarly, there are various other floatation aids that you can use as an alternative to snorkel vests. For instance, PFDs, boogie boards, pool noodles, and floatation belts can also help you stay afloat.
Unlike a snorkel and snorkeling, you don’t necessarily need fins. However, they are nice to have to go farther in the water. They are also great for easy and fast swimming, assisting you to increase buoyancy without much effort. Moreover, since the diving fins are long and hard to handle, especially by non-swimmers, I recommend getting shorter fins for easy movement.
Are You Ready to Try Snorkeling?
So, do you have to swim to snorkel? Well, not really. It is possible to enjoy snorkeling without having excellent swimming skills. However, I highly recommend learning a few things to make your snorkeling excursion safe and enjoyable. Firstly, make sure you are confident about getting into the water. Secondly, you should know how to float. Thirdly, practice deep breathing and how to control it when you are in the water.
Learning these techniques will make your snorkeling excursion safer and more comfortable.
Snorkling is all explained in depth and with simple logic and science. A swimmer and non-swimmer can snorkel with the gears: which is explained as well.
I am a good swimmer bur always scared of swimming in ocean. Afte reading this post I feel a little comfort but not completely.
You follow the weather before you go into ocean water.
How do you do when a sudden current comes resulting in a strong wave?
Good points and also a good question! We find it’s essential to check the weather to know what type of currents and other factors you might encounter before going out. Here in Florida, like most coastal areas, the currents can drag even a strong swimmer if you are unaware. Knowledge is safety!
Thank you for sharing this helpful article. I always dreamed of going snorkeling in the sea, but I was always scared because I am not a good swimmer and am afraid of the underwater world. Another thing that stops me from going snorkeling is the snorkel equipment. You need to know how to breathe in the tube, so you don’t swallow water. This is a little tricky for beginners. So my question is, are there other alternatives than using snorkel masks and tubes?
Yes, it is possible for people to enjoy snorkeling, even with less than ideal swimming skills. It’s true that the snorkel mask takes time to learn to use it properly, but the end result is well-worth the effort. Other types of masks and even scuba gear might be preferred by some, of course.
Thanks for sharing such a interesting post. Snorkeling is a very magical thing to do for both swimmers and non swimmers. I have never been in the ocean because of what’s in there but I feel seeing what is out there to be beautiful. It’s vital to know what’s going on before headed out there. All for safety reasons. Has anyone got hurt because they didn’t follow the right safety precautions? Just want all info before I head out there.
With proper equipment and some basic training, snorkeling is quite safe, even for non-swimmers. Of course, the waters do hold some unfriendly habitants such as sharks and jellyfish. But your instructor will provide safety instructions for the area you are snorkeling in. Have fun!
May be the question should be, Can non-swimmers do snorkeling?
The short answer is yes, doing it right non-swimmers can snorkel! Once understanding this, a shallow waters area is needed to offer the briefing, where non- swimmers feel safe and open to listening to any instruction.
A swimming snorkel is not just for exploring coral reefs. While you might be more used to seeing vacationers with snorkels and flippers, you can use a snorkel for swimming laps in the pool.
Training snorkels for swimmers look just like what you would expect. They have a mouthpiece and a slender tube that curves upward.
Thank you very much for this post. It gives a lot of information on snorkeling.
You bring up some very good points. Thank you, I’m happy you enjoyed the article!
Hello and thank you so much for this post I have booked-market this page to go back to it over and over again, the reason for this is that I am not a good swimmer and somewhere in the back of my mind also wonder if you need to know how to swim to snorkel and you have answered my question I am so happy that I have come across your post and others like myself will be happy also. Thanks so much for sharing.
I’m glad you found the information useful! It’s true that even people with limited swimming skills still enjoy viewing the beautiful shallow waters with snorkeling.
Thank you for the information. I am planning a trip to Goa(India) with my friends and we have planned a couple of water sports including snorkeling but unfortunately, I don’t know how to swim, hence my main concern was can I enjoy snorkeling. After reading your post, I am pretty sure there is no need to learn to swim to enjoy snorkeling. I have talked to the instructors there and they will provide a brief training and I think that it will be enough for me. Thank you for clarifying.
That sounds like a wonderful experience for you and your friends! Please let us know how the adventure goes.