Thursday, March 5, 2009

Snorkeling and swimming

"Must I know how to swim
before I snorkel?"

I can't pretend to be a professional - so I can only say that my personal opinion is "ideally yes".

I have been swimming quite regularly for many years before I started to snorkel. And I can see that some basic skills in swimming really help.

You see, the act of floating passively on the surface isn't hard and you don't have to know swimming to do that. But, for two reasons, I think it's good to know swimming before you snorkel:

First - more fun
If you swim well and are confident in the water, you can do a lot more than simply drifting around. For example, you can dive down as you wish and explore ledges, caves or arches near the bottom.
Also, you won't have to restrict yourself to only shallow spots near the shore anymore. You can explore spots further from shore, which may be a shallow reef that is separated from shore by deeper water. Those spots may turn out to be quite rich in marine life as they are less disturbed by the beachgoers.

Second - safer
If you swim well and are confident in the water, you are less likely to freak out when things go wrong. For example, for some reasons, you get a leg cramp. Or one of your fins threaten to come off because the fin strap has somehow become loose. Or you accidentally breathe in some water and start to cough. They all happened to me before, so I know.

Having said all that, don't forego an opportunity to go snorkeling and explore the underwater wonders just because you can't swim. Just go with someone who can keep an eye on you and go places that are safe, then you are alright.

I believe that people of all levels of swimming abilities or even the lack of it are entitled to enjoying the beauty underwater. I can promise you that it's very different from watching corals and fishes through the glass of an aquarium.


fremantlebiz said...

I used to bob about and dive on the same reefs as you in the 1960s, but in those days camera cases were expensive and built by clever backyarders in Perth. It was the time before wet suits and we used to wear two or three woolen jumpers in the water. Your pics are demonstrating the great beauty we have under our noses in Perth, but which few people seem to realise or care about. Thanks for the reminder that it's definitely fun to observe local marine life than catch it. Cheers Paul.

Steve Reynolds said...

All good stuff as usual, Chai. I'm struggling to keep pace with you, but I'm trying.

Tsun-Thai Chai said...

Hey Paul,

I can see your point. Even among people I know, there are quite a number of them who couldn't believe that there are colorful marine life underwater in Cottesloe. I know it sounds exaggerated but I know a few who assume that you could only find fishes that are black, white, and maybe grey and nothing else there.

Some seem to think that to enjoy watching marine life, there's no cheaper options than going up north to the Ningaloo Reef or to the Great Barrier Reef. Not something we can do very often especially when the economy is the way it is.

I just hope that my little blog can open up a small window into the amazing underwater world of Cottesloe (especially) for people who want to know.

"we used to wear two or three woolen jumpers in the water" -- did that actually work?


Tsun-Thai Chai said...

Hey Steve,

Come on mate, you certainly have more to share with your readers than I do. Just a small sample of your diving experience or underwater encounters (current or from the past) in each post will leave us all in awe or at least impressed!

If I had all those underwater experiences of yours, I think I want to write a book!


Nizam said...

Hi, i found your post while looking up swimming and snorkeling, and thought i'd put up the post and your link in my blog that i'm just starting about learning swimming. Hope you dont mind. My blog is I will learn to swim; by myself!

Tsun-Thai Chai said...

Hi Nizam,

Thanks for that. Good luck with your swimming lessons too!