Why Do You Sink When You Swim Backstroke?

Last Updated on August 1st, 2023

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The backstroke is a method that takes practice and a little bit of patience. Most mistakes are made in form and how the body is held.

For example, most beginners will make the mistake of pulling their heads too far back when taught to maintain a straight back and spine, and this technique will steer the swimmer into the water instead of across the surface.

The technique is an important part of executing the backstroke effectively. Consider performing exercises similar to planking to help teach the body to keep the back straight, even when under strain or experiencing fatigue to some level.

Woman floating on water closing her eyes - Why Do You Sink When You Swim Backstroke?

Is this Common?

More common than you might think, the backstroke is a difficult swimming technique, and not many master it.

There will be many ways in which a person can mess up the backstroke, including simple issues like a cross-over entry where your outstretched arm breaks the symmetry and crosses over the middle line of the body.

Other mistakes include allowing the knees to break the surface of the water and performing deep catching strokes, which will pull the swimmer down into the water, breaking the gliding aspect of the backstroke.


Why does it Happen?

As mentioned earlier in the article, technique mistakes will be the primary reason for continuously leaving the surface and going under the water.

These include the before-mentioned cross-over and deep-catch strokes that can throw a swimmer off their line and down into the pool water.

The key is to keep the back straight, chin tucked, arms performing symmetrical pulling motions, and create linear propulsion with your kicks.

This is a difficult swimming technique, and there are a bunch of elements of swimming you must master before you can expect to execute a proper backstroke.


How Can You Fix it?

The first step is to get someone to work out with. Even a friend can help by noticing where you are making mistakes, but the smartest route will be to take swimming lessons from a certified trainer.

Every municipal recreation center, community pool, and gym, like the YMCA, will have a swim coach available to teach children and adults.

These teachers will guide you and help correct the mistakes that you are making with your swimming techniques, not to mention the help they will give in the pool as you practice the backstroke is priceless.


Are there any Exercises that Can Help You?

The easiest way to practice inside the pool will be to use the side walls and to practice kicking to keep the body parallel with the water. The longer you can keep yourself buoyant and on top of the water, the better.

However, not all exercises that will benefit the swimmer are done in the pool. Many trainers will recommend working on a planking regiment to build muscles that will help keep the body straight in the water.

The weight room offers a chance for athletes, swimmers included, to isolate certain muscle groups in order to strengthen the ones that will aid performance in the water.


Common Mistakes to Avoid

As mentioned above, most of the mistakes made while swimming the backstroke will be made because of poor technique.

One of the most common mistakes is forgetting to tuck the chin and keep the spine aligned. The drag created by a swimmer’s untucked head will effectively pull them downwards into the water.

Another common mistake will be a lack of propulsion which can be due to a variety of things, fatigue, the most common, and deep catch strokes caused by weak kicks.

To fix this problem, scuba divers will put flippers on to help push more water and create better propulsion.


Final Thoughts on Why do You Sink when You Swim Backstroke

The backstroke is not easy to learn for most but is only used for casual relaxation times and emergencies. Learning this technique will be very beneficial to those who like open water recreation to be prepared for any incidents.

If you are serious about becoming sufficient at the backstroke, taking a simple class with an instructor can provide all the mental and physical tips needed to succeed.

Not to mention, the practice of doing the techniques properly in the first place will save you time down the road and prevent the need for retraining the body.