Non swimmer - Snorkeling ?

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#1
28 Posts
Joined Jun 2011
I am not a swimmer, and am afraid of deep water. I can float. I did some shallow water snorkeling in a lake and loved it. In our upcoming cruise, we booked the snorkeling in St. Thomas USVI. My wife is a good swimmer.
I guess I need to feel comfortable floating with a life vest in deep water.


We are doing the castaway barefoot sail & snorkel. Do they help non swimmers feel comfortable? Are there any tips for a beginner?

I plan to buy my own snorkeling set, any tips? Are there any that have a check valve to prevent sucking in water? That's what scares me mostly.

Thanks!
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Shankar

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#2
37 Posts
Joined Apr 2010
The best way for a non-swimmer to become comfortable is to become a swimmer. In my opinion it is a very important skill that everyone should know and can easily save your life or allow you to save someone else. It is always really sad when someone dies because someone could have saved them but didn't know how to swim. If you still have some time before your cruise I highly suggest you try to learn. It will make it a lot more fun too.

Having said that, you float really well in the ocean even without a vest. Even without knowing how to swim, it is really easy with fins. There are "dry" snorkels that have guards to keep water from splashing in.
#3
Ryde, Sydney
427 Posts
Joined Jul 2012
Your fins will help you float and make it easy to swim, just keep kicking and you'll be fine.

You can just cruise along the top of the water and look down, you won't get up close to any marine life but you don't have to dive down.

The above method is a good way to get your back roasted though.
#4
Georgetown, TX
1,076 Posts
Joined Oct 2006
Take swim lessons, seriously. Snorkeling in the ocean is different than a lake so it is best to know basic swimming skills.
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#5
28 Posts
Joined Jun 2011
Thanks all.

BTW, I can float, kick & propel myself and "swim" freestyle while holding my breath. What I did not learn was to coordinate breathing with swimming. So, once I lose my breath, I go down. That's why I stay in shallow water, so than I can reach the ground.

I have taken some swim lessons, but the kid who taught me did not instill confidence in me in deep water.

I am hoping that with the vest, I can stay afloat, and with the snorkel I can breathe so that I don't have to look for the ground.

Good point about roating the back... Do Lycra body suits help? I am asking for my wife, who is Irish descent and burns easily.
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Shankar

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#6
Alabama
100 Posts
Joined Nov 2007
Lycra body suits or rash guard will definitely help with sunburn risk. I suggest you get into a pool with your snorkel gear and go back and forth across the pool including the deep end to increase your comfort level. But have stronger swimmers or a lifeguard with you. You can probably buy a snorkel vest at a local dive shop to practice with. I've never been good at coordinating my breathing while swimming freestyle either, so I usually swim freestyle with my head above water, which can tire me out earlier. I find it much easier to do back stroke, side stroke or breast stroke for longer distances.
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#7
Pascagoula, MS
32 Posts
Joined Jun 2011
I'm not a good swimmer either. I used to be scared of the deep water too. However with "aid" I'm a great swimmer (vest, fins, snorkel). I actually am a certified scuba diver and am working on my swimming skills.
The thing to remember is not to panic, the vest will keep you up and so will the fins. Keep calm and breathe.
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#8
28 Posts
Joined Jun 2011
Originally posted by bells&stars
I'm not a good swimmer either. I used to be scared of the deep water too. However with "aid" I'm a great swimmer (vest, fins, snorkel). I actually am a certified scuba diver and am working on my swimming skills.
The thing to remember is not to panic, the vest will keep you up and so will the fins. Keep calm and breathe.

So, this past weekend, we bought snorkel kits, and a life vest ($20 !) and visited the local pool. I put the vest on, and my wife slowly guided me toward the deep end (13 ft).

At around 5.5, the vest lifted me up and I could not feel the ground. I started panicking. She toook me to the deep end and after 5 minutes, I was beginning to relax, and once I started feeling comfortable, I floated, swam with my head above the water, put my snorkel on and swam around for an hour.

I then practiced jumping into the 13 ft water, went in and the vest brought me up!

I am now ready for the snorkeling excursion!

Best $20 we ever spent!
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Shankar

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#9
28 Posts
Joined Jun 2011
Originally posted by bells&stars

Congratulations on your wedding!
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Shankar

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#10
407 Posts
Joined Dec 2005
With the vest you cannot sink. That should give you confidence.

I'm a certified diver but not a good swimmer; I can swim well enough for what I need.

You need to have confidence that your life vest will keep you afloat. I've flipped out of a dive boat in hundreds of metres of water but it doesn't bother me because my BCD is inflated and I know I cannot sink.

Swimming lessons would help you. Good luck. The ocean is a wonderful world and if you can get over this, you'll discover a world of adventure.
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#11
Chicagoland
190 Posts
Joined Jun 2007
Funny all the divers who are/were poor swimmers. When I took the test for diving I barely passed the unassisted surface swim (though I could have done it easily had I know about the option with fins and snorkel- just longer) It was mostly the breathing with my head down bit that was my hang up. Diving has helped my confidence in the water immensely. I'm sure that you'll up you confidence in water rapidly as well once you go out and find you can swim okay. Also I know you already bought a kit, but they do make snorkels with check valves so its pretty much impossible to breathe in water. Check online dive stores.
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#12
Melbourne, FL
7,654 Posts
Joined Apr 2005
I am not a swimmer, and am afraid of deep water.


you KNOW you can not swim

you plan to go into water deeper than your ankles

I taught swimming and was a life guard for 35 years

adjust your will to remove blame from anyone other than yourself should you drown. if your excusion has a liability release, note on it I CAN NOT SWIM.

HARSH? you betcha

I've pulled too many people out of the water to have remorse for someone who says "I can not swim" & goes into water deeper than their ankles

swim vest ... fins ... float board? Depending on a floation device is for folks on sinking ships and NOT for one who KNOWS they can not swim but gets into water deeper than their ankles . . . .

I ended up towing someone like you almost a mile back to the boat - I'd not care to do it again..... I didn't know I was this far out . . .
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#13
28 Posts
Joined Jun 2011
Originally posted by geekybiker
Also I know you already bought a kit, but they do make snorkels with check valves so its pretty much impossible to breathe in water. Check online dive stores.
That's the kind I got, and it works awesome
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Shankar

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#14
Upstate SC
890 Posts
Joined Apr 2006
Originally posted by Capt_BJ
I am not a swimmer, and am afraid of deep water.


you KNOW you can not swim

you plan to go into water deeper than your ankles

I taught swimming and was a life guard for 35 years

adjust your will to remove blame from anyone other than yourself should you drown. if your excusion has a liability release, note on it I CAN NOT SWIM.

HARSH? you betcha

I've pulled too many people out of the water to have remorse for someone who says "I can not swim" & goes into water deeper than their ankles

swim vest ... fins ... float board? Depending on a floation device is for folks on sinking ships and NOT for one who KNOWS they can not swim but gets into water deeper than their ankles . . . .

I ended up towing someone like you almost a mile back to the boat - I'd not care to do it again..... I didn't know I was this far out . . .

Harsh words and great advice that just may save some fool's life.

The question about non swimmers snorkeling comes up on these boards occasionally. My personal and professional advice is always : If you can not swim never get in water over waist deep--- PERIOD !!!!! I always get "Flamed" by the "board experts".

I also run in to divers on charters who know everything and like to break every rule in the book.I hear things like 'I am only an Open Water diver with 22 dives but my Instructor said I could do a 140 feet deep wreck dive". My standard reply (when I am just another paying customer) has become " I don't give a darn what you do but PLEASE stay the hell away from me while you are doing it !!!!".
#15
28 Posts
Joined Jun 2011
Here is a progress report:

I have been practicing with the life veat in a local swimming pool, and my wife took me to the deep end and reassured me that I won't sink.. and slowly I relaxed, and started snorkeling.

Yesterday, I took another giant step in conquering my fear of deep water.

Jumped into the deep end, with the life vest on and did the snorkeling practice. Then, with the snorkel and vest on on, I swam the entire length of the pool from deep end to shallow and back, twice...
after that, my wife asked me to try swimming without the snorkel, but with my head up above the water. I tried and did that and swam the length of the pool, and then.. I took a breath, swam with my head under water, turned to the side, took a breath and and on on.. like a regular swimmer..

I did all of that with the life vest on... after returning from the cruise, I will take lessons to do all of this without the vest. I am not afraid of the deep water anymore, as I was 2 weeks ago.

Looks like The one thing I need to learn is treading water.. and then I can realy swim
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#16
Ryde, Sydney
427 Posts
Joined Jul 2012
Good to hear! Just remember things aren't always ideal in the ocean as they are in the pool. Be wary of changing conditions and currents. You don't want to get into difficulty so don't go deeper than you're comfortable with.
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#17
28 Posts
Joined Jun 2011
Originally posted by Katana_Geldar
Good to hear! Just remember things aren't always ideal in the ocean as they are in the pool. Be wary of changing conditions and currents. You don't want to get into difficulty so don't go deeper than you're comfortable with.
Thanks! I will keep that in mind.. I will be with a group and do not plan to venture off alone!
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Shankar

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#18
Ryde, Sydney
427 Posts
Joined Jul 2012
Make sure you tell them straight up you're not a swimmer, that way they can look out for you.
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#19
28 Posts
Joined Jun 2011
Originally posted by Katana_Geldar
Make sure you tell them straight up you're not a swimmer, that way they can look out for you.
I will.. My wife is a good swimmer and we won't stray too far... from the excursion leader
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Shankar

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#20
Stone Mountain GA
9,212 Posts
Joined Jul 2009
And you are sailing today. Have fun, don't panic, and really, Learn to swim when you get back, take lessons, we are never to old to learn something that will let us progress through life better.
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