How to Stay in One Spot While Swimming


If you can't swim laps, swimming in one spot, better known as treading water, offers a solid aerobic workout. Treading water also can help a new swimmer become more comfortable in the water. Perhaps most important is that learning how to tread water can help save your life if you're caught in open water. You have several options if you wish to learn how to tread water; some techniques use arms and hands only, others use feet and legs only, and some use a combination of each. Begin each technique by standing vertically in the pool with the water covering your shoulders.


  • Extend your arms straight out to your sides at shoulder height while keeping them underwater. Flex your elbows slightly as you move your hands forward and away from your torso.

  • Turn your palms so they face outward and are angled toward your torso at about 45 degrees.

  • Move your arms and hands sideways through the water, keeping your wrists firm.

  • Turn your palms inward as you move your arms and hands through the water back to the starting position. The movement of your arms should create a sweeping motion that enables you to feel the water moving around you.

  • Continue moving your arms and hands outward and inward below the surface in a smooth, continuous motion.

Flutter Kick

  • Stand straight with your legs close together, your knees flexed and your toes pointing toward the bottom of the pool.

  • Kick your right foot forward, about 12 to 18 inches, and your left foot backward the same distance, simultaneously.

  • Move your left foot forward and your right foot backward.

  • Continue alternating the position of each leg, making sure to keep your toes pointed down.

Tips & Warnings

  • Practice arm movements in a shallower end of the pool to start. To incorporate kicks, go to a deeper end and hang on to the wall with one hand while your feet remain above the pool's bottom. When you're comfortable with the kicking motion, let go of the wall and continue treading water. Alternatively, grasp a flotation device to start, then let it go when you're ready to tread water.
  • Combine sculling and flutter kicking techniques for a better workout.
  • Practice in a pool with a lifeguard on duty.

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