Safety First: The Best Snorkel Techniques and Tools for a Safe Swim
Picture this... You're standing on a scenic sandbank, off an island, gazing at the vastness of rocks covered with clear blue water — corals of all shapes, sizes, and colors, with fish to match. You wade out and poke your face into the water. Oh, the view is bliss! A few feet down you're already very close to marine heaven.
Minutes later, you start experiencing exhaustion and panic creeps in. As a reasonably weak swimmer who has never snorkeled before, let alone become 'one' with the fish, you're not ready to face your worst fear - sinking. This is why you need to start learning safe snorkeling techniques now, before your next excursion.
Click on the link below to take you directly to the answer to your most pressing question, or keep scroll to read all of my tips on snorkel safety.
What are the Most Important Things to Remember while Snorkeling?
Snorkeling involves floating on the water's surface, and using a snorkel to breathe through while looking down. It's as simple as getting your fins and mask on, and then swimming or floating over reefs and beautiful, almost unimaginable, tropical fish. Yes, it's a chance to become one with nature, but it's also much more than that.
You need hours of rigorous practice before setting out for a snorkeling expedition on an exotic beach. Practicing involves learning how to get comfortable in the water, mastering the ideal breathing techniques, and fitting into, and getting familiar with the right snorkeling gear.
Your muscles require enough strength and endurance to kick in the water, helping you to snorkel more effortlessly. This leaves you to ogle the beautiful corals, the resident fish population, and the other stunning marine life that lives beneath the surface.
Crucial Points to Remember While Snorkeling
1. Conserve Your Energy
You may think swimming in tropical waters is a casual and modest exercise full of lots of fun and leisure. Well, it is, if you think about it. But make no mistake, snorkeling is also a dangerous activity that can turn against you. It can stretch your body to inexhaustible physical limits.
The weather may feel warm, and the water, peaceful. But the water's heat capacity can take a toll on you, especially if it gets greater than the air around you. This setting can get your body losing heat fast. Never mind that you also need a great deal of energy to keep propelling yourself forward with snorkeling fins.
Throw in to the mix many hours-long trips a snorkeler can make each day when on vacation, and you'll begin to see why you can't overstate the importance of conserving your energy while snorkeling.
Don't kick too hard or move too fast in the water. Instead, relax your body and slow down. Let fins and a snorkel buoyancy vest do the heavy lifting for you.
2. Conserve Your Air
Even as you employ proper physical measures to keep your energy reserves continuously replenished, you need to conserve your air while snorkeling. Taking deep and slow breaths will achieve this goal.
Remember, you'll be breathing through a snorkel tube the whole time you're in the water. Learning how to conserve air will keep you going. It will even help lower your heart rate, keep you more relaxed, and save your body some much-needed energy.
Is Snorkeling Safe for Non-Swimmers?
Although it is possible to snorkel if you're a non-swimmer, it is very strongly advised against. If you plan on going snorkeling, its always safest to take swimming lessons first. This is going to help you to understand your limits in both calm and more lively waters. Lessons can take place in a swimming pool or the open sea, depending completely on your personal preference.
Regardless of your level of experience, always do your research on the area you plan to swim in before going out on the day.
For beginners, and anyone who hasn't snorkeled in a while, it's very important to stay in the areas patrolled by lifeguards, and other safe areas. This is necessary as it will save the life of first-time and beginner snorkelers - and will help make your snorkeling experience worth writing home about.
The 5 Key Steps to Staying Safe while Snorkeling
To get the most out of your snorkeling experience, here are extra safety tips:
1. Make Sure there are Qualified Supervisors are on Duty
Trying out something new often comes with its fair share of great fear and anticipation. Feeding off the adrenaline rush can get you also equally euphoric – affecting your snorkeling experience. The good news is that having experienced snorkelers and supervisors on standby can get you relaxed enough to enjoy the experience from start to finish. Even sometimes let you safely explore your limits.
2. Be in Good Physical Condition
Although snorkeling is considered a leisure activity, it requires a lot of energy to keep yourself on the surface.
It's advisable to be in good health before you dive into the water for snorkeling. If you feel you're not 100 percent physically fit, then wait until you've fully regained your physical health. It really is the best decision you can make.
Strength is also needed to avoid or swim in powerful currents that can push you further than you expect from your entry point. You don't know what will happen to you if you're too weak to swim back to the beach. Safe snorkeling begins with your well-being. Never forget this.
3. Snorkel in a Safe Area
It is true that excellent swimming skills will keep you safe in the water, but swimming in a designated safe area the buoy line, will keep you alive. If there is an assigned snorkel and swimming area in the water you're in, then stay inside that area for your safety.
As beautiful as the ocean is, dangers can lurk beneath. The scariest of marine life to look out for are barracuda, stingrays, and sharks. It's wise to swim in an area where these invasive predatory species aren't prevalent.
The best way to find out if an area is safe for snorkeling is to do your research and learn more about your snorkeling destination before you go. If possible, take a tour of the area days or weeks beforehand, and ask the locals. It can help in to keep track of the tides, too.
4. Wear Proper Equipment
Do you want to build up your snorkeling confidence? Then you need to get to know all of your equipment and practice with it beforehand in a swimming pool. If you can't access a swimming pool, head out into the shallows of some calm waters for a practice. You'll feel better about the whole experience.
Essential snorkeling safety equipment include:
Every seasoned snorkeler knows the importance of using safety equipment. It can save your life in the water when you experience severe exhaustion, for instance.
We recommend flotation devices such as inflatable snorkel vests. These are recommended for both experienced and first-time snorkelers. Many experienced, fit young snorkelers use them to conserve their energy and extend their snorkeling time. Most snorkeling tour companies provide these, but if you're going out on your own with friends or family, these are well worth investing in.
5. Always Have a Buddy
Snorkeling rule of thumb: never go out alone. It doesn't matter if you're a snorkeling beginner or expert, it's always best to go with a partner. Get a snorkeling buddy who will enrich your experience, and who'll stay right next to you in case anything goes wrong.
Looking after each other can help reduce the risks of unknown dangers at sea. Even when the water views and feels safe, don't attempt to go snorkeling on your own lest you get into an incident that prevents you from helping yourself. It sounds like a no-brainer, but you'd be surprised at the number of people who swim alone in the water.
Snorkeling is one of the most amazing activities you and your family can do. It's easy to genuinely enjoy the humbling and beautiful experience. Even timid of first-time snorkelers can't help but get lured into the clear blue waters.
If you take the right precautions, it's a leisurely activity that's more fun than it's risky. So make sure to get the most out of it, but remember your safety comes first. Always.
Doug Kramer & Family
PBA Champion, Doug Kramer with his family on holiday with Full Face Snorkel Masks.