in: Outdoor/Survival, Skills

• Last updated: June 1, 2021

How to Tread Water Efficiently

How to tread water correctly and efficiently comic guide.

In 2017, a 50-year-old father from South Africa was on a surfing trip in the Indian Ocean. One night, after getting food poisoning, he got up to get some fresh air outside, got dizzy, and fell overboard. Since the boat was underway, and it was the middle of the night, no one noticed that he’d fallen off. After treading water, battling sharks, and taking jellyfish stings for nearly 30 hours, he was rescued.

For anyone that enjoys water activities, treading water is an essential skill to have. It’s all too easy to get caught in a rip current, fall off a moving boat, or get left behind. Especially when it comes to survival, the key for treading water is efficiency. Most people can tread water for a few minutes, but could you do it for an hour? Two hours?  

The US Navy recommends a modified frog kick to make the best use of your energy for long-lasting treading. Learn how to perform this simple technique and practice your treading ability the next time you’re in a body of water. It could be the difference between life and death.

How to tread water efficiently

1: Orient your body vertically in the water.

2: Tilt your head back slightly.

3: Move your hands in small, downwards circles while keeping your palms down.

4: Lift your legs as if sitting in a low chair.

5: Kick both legs down and out, then bring them back up under the center of your body.

6: Experiment with the timing of your hand circles and kicks until the water is consistently at your chin level.

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Illustrated by Ted Slampyak

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