Learn to Push and Glide in the Water

Gliding is one of the first techniques learnt by new swimmers after they’re comfortable with floating in the water. It helps make the strokes smooth and reduces the amount of effort required by the arms to move forward, resulting in a more efficient swimming technique.

What Gliding Is

Gliding means travelling through the water (either at the surface or underwater) without any movements from arms, legs, torso or head (that is no kicking or no paddling). It usually begins with a forceful push from the poolside or solid edge in order to generate some propulsion. In order to glide, you must stay as flat and compact as possible in a horizontal position and as close as possible to the water surface (when doing a glide at the surface). Your body shape doesn’t matter, it’s more about the position: your hands and feet must be together to give a pointed streamlined shape so that the water moves easily around you as your body cuts through it as this reduces the resistance.

Preparatory Exercise

It can be scary to think about gliding for the first time as you may feel wobbly and unbalanced as you move through the water unaided. To start slowly, practise this preliminary exercise: hold onto the side of the pool, take a breath and place your face in the water. Remember to blow bubbles while doing this (if you need help with your breathing, check out these exercises at home or in a pool). Walk backwards as you extend your arms, and allow your feet to come up to the surface. This is the streamlined position in which you will be gliding. Then draw the knees to the chest and get your head out of the water to stop. Repeat this sequence until you feel confident with the position.

Illustration of the instructions
Source: Swim Central

How to Do a Push and Glide

Now that you know the streamlined position, let’s practice the push which will result in the gliding.

  • Put your feet on the floor with your knees bent, or your feet flat against the wall. You may want to hold onto the wall with one hand for support or get help from a volunteer.
  • Breathe in and place your face in the water.
  • Stretch both hands out in front of you, making a triangle.
  • Push off with your feet, straighten out legs to get to the streamlined position
  • Hold that position for as long as you can: this is gliding.

To stop, push down on the water with your hands and lift your head as you bring your knees up to your chest to put your feet on the floor.

Illustration of the instructions
Source: Swim Central

If you prefer a video format with more detailed explanations or if you would like to practice other types of glides like on the back and the side, watch this short video:

YouTube video

We look forward to seeing you in the pool to practice this technique.

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