How to Survival Float

How to Survival Float

Also known as the jellyfish or dead man's float, the survival float is one of the most important skills for swimmers to learn, since it can help you survive in the water. Survival floating can help you if you're stranded in open water, but it's also a valuable technique taught to children who may find themselves in a deep pool and don't have a lot of stamina or strong swimming skills.

Face Down Floating

Get into water that's at least waist-deep and take a deep breath and hold it. Float in a horizontal position with your face down in the water. Only the back of your head should breach the surface. The air in your lungs will keep you floating. Relax.

Let your arms and legs dangle. Your arms may float up to the surface. You may need to kick your legs a little after taking a breath to keep from sinking back down too far.

Raise your head when you need a breath of air. If you need to, bring your arms and legs slightly upward to the surface, then push them downward to help you elevate your head for a breath and return to a relaxed floating position.

Big Cheese Photo/Big Cheese Photo/Getty Images

Big Cheese Photo/Big Cheese Photo/Getty Images

Big Cheese Photo/Big Cheese Photo/Getty Images

Back Floating

Lie on your back in calm water and relax your limbs to float horizontally.

Keep your head above the water line at all times so your airway stays dry. Arch the back slightly to assist in the float.

Kick gently or tread water to make progress toward land or a boat, if one is in sight.


Practice survival floating in a pool before attempting in open water. Relax your mind as well as your body, which aids in conserving your energy and oxygen.