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Snorkeling for Non Swimmers

author image Danielle Hill
Danielle Hill has been writing, editing and translating since 2005. She has contributed to "Globe Pequot" Barcelona travel guide, "Gulfshore Business Magazine," "Connecting Lines: New Poetry from Mexico" and "The Barcelona Review." She has trained in neuro-linguistic programming and holds a Bachelor of Arts in comparative literature and literary translation from Brown University.
Snorkeling for Non Swimmers
Three friends running into the water with snorkels. Photo Credit Getty Images/Digital Vision/Getty Images

Snorkeling requires very little actual swimming. Simply floating on the sea's surface, with your snorkel and mask strapped on, you can enjoy all of the underwater sights below. As you gain confidence, you can begin to practice the "flutter kick," using your legs to propel yourself through the water. More than any particular technique, though, a non-swimmer should learn the equipment and become comfortable using it.

Flotation Devices

Because snorkeling merely requires that you stay afloat, a non-swimmer or novice swimmer can take advantage of a raft or a jacket that's designed to maintain buoyancy. Keep in mind, however, that a regular life jackets and life preservers are designed to keep your head out of the water. Instead, you'll need to strap on a jacket that lets you put your face down in the water. For children, water wings or swimming pool "noodles" work well. With some practice, it will become apparent that your body is already naturally buoyant.

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Proper Equipment

Investing in good quality equipment can improve your snorkeling experience, particularly if you're new to the activity. Instead of open tubs, look for a snorkel that features a ball valve, which will keep you from inhaling any water. If you normally wear glasses, investing in a magnifying glass will help you to better see the aquatic sights. Make sure that the fins fit snugly around your feet. If they chafe or seem too loose, you can wear thin socks underneath.

Getting a Grip on the Gear

To streamline the process and avoid gulps of seawater, familiarize yourself with the snorkeling equipment while you still have your feet on solid ground. If there's a shallow area where you can stand in the water, keep your feet on the ground and lower your head to the water's surface. Practice breathing through the snorkel tube, noting how much pressure is necessary to keep it in your mouth. Also check that the mask makes a tight seal around your eyes. Dabbing a bit of petroleum jelly around the edge of the mask helps ensure a good seal. By checking the face gear in advance, you can focus on the rest of your body when you jump in.

Pick The Right Destination

Non-swimmers will have an easier time snorkeling at some destinations than others. If you plan to go snorkeling with a tour operator, confirm that the group allows non-swimmers along on their excursions. Some outfits even specialize in family-friendly and non-swimmer snorkeling adventures. Certain destinations cater to beginner snorkelers, too. In the Virgin Islands National Park, Trunk Bay features underwater signage alerting snorkelers to the sea life they're most likely to see.

Additional Considerations

When setting out for a snorkeling trip, make sure that you always have plenty of swimmers as well as non-swimmers in the group. Until the non-swimmers have gained confidence in the water, stick to shallow areas where they can put their feet on the ground if need be. In order to be safe you should never venture father than the shore of a large body of water if you cannot swim. A swimming pool makes an excellent venue for a practice session.

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