Advice to Swimmers (11)

"When he is seized with the cramp in the leg, the method of driving it away is to give the parts affected a sudden, vigorous, and violent shock; which he may do in the air as he swims on his back. 

 Advice to Swimmers (10)

"I know by experience, that it is a great comfort to a swimmer, who has a considerable distance to go, to turn himself sometimes on his back, and to vary, in other respects, the means of procuring a progressive motion. 

 Advice to Swimmers (6)

"But if in this erect position the head be kept upright above the shoulders, as when we stand on the ground, the immersion will, by the weight of that part of the head that is out of the water, reach above the mouth and nostrils, perhaps a little above the eyes, so that a man cannot long remain suspended in water with his head in that position. 

 Advice to Swimmers (5)

"In fresh water if a man throw himself on his back near the surface, he cannot long continue in that situation, but by proper action of his hands on the water; if he use no such action, the legs and lower part of the body will gradually sink till he come into an upright position, in which he will continue suspended, the hollow of his breast keeping the head uppermost

 Advice to Swimmers (7)

"The body continuing suspended as before, and upright, if the head be leaned quite back, so that the face look upward, all the back part of the head being under water, and its weight consequently in a great measure supported by it, the face will remain above water quite free for breathing, will rise an inch higher every inspiration, and sink as much every expiration, but never so low as that the water may come over the mouth. 

 Advice to Swimmers (8)

"If therefore a person unacquainted with swimming and falling accidentally into the water, could have presence of mind sufficient to avoid struggling and plunging, and to let the body take this natural position, he might continue long safe from drowning, till, perhaps, help should come; for, as to the clothes, their additional weight when immersed is very inconsiderable, the water supporting it; though when he comes out of the water, he will find them very heavy indeed. 

 Advice to Swimmers (3)

"Though the legs, arms, and head of a human body, being solid parts, are specifically somewhat heavier than fresh water, as the trunk, particularly the upper part, from its hollowness, is so much lighter than water, so the whole of the body, taken altogether, is too light to sink wholly under water , but some part will remain above until the lungs become filled with water, which happens when a person, in the fright, attempts breathing while the mouth and nostrils are under water. 

 Advice to Swimmers (4)

"The legs and arms are specifically lighter than salt water, and will be supported by it, so that a human body cannot sink in salt water , though the lungs were filled as above, but from the greater specific gravity of the head. Therefore a person throwing himself on his back in salt water, and extending his arms, may easily lie so as to keep his mouth and nostrils free for breathing; and, by a slight motion of his hand, may prevent turning, if he should perceive any tendency to it. 

 Advice to Swimmers (2)

"I would the more earnestly press you to the trial of this method, because I think I shall satisfy you that your body is lighter than water, and that you might float in it a long time with your mouth free for breathing, if you would put yourself into a proper posture, and would be still, and forbear struggling; yet, till you have obtained this experimental confidence in the water, I cannot depend upon your having the necessary presence of mind to recollect the posture, and the directions I gave you relating to it. The surprise may put all out of your mind. 

 Advice to Swimmers (12)

"During the great heats in summer, there is no danger in bathing, however warm we may be, in rivers which have been thoroughly warmed by the sun. But to throw one's self into cold spring water, when the body has been heated by exercise in the sun, is an imprudence which may prove fatal. I once knew an instance of four young men who, having worked at harvest in the heat of the day, with a view of refreshing themselves, plunged into a spring of cold water; two died upon the spot, a third next morning, and the fourth recovered with great difficulty. A copious draught of cold water, in similar circumstances, is frequently attended with the same effect in North America. 

 Advice to Swimmers (9)

"But I would not advise any one to depend on having this presence of mind on such an occasion, but learn fairly to swim, as I wish all men were taught do in their youth; they would on many occasions, be the safer for having that skill; and on many more, the happier, as free from painful apprehensions of danger, to say nothing of the enjoyment in so delightful and wholesome an exercise. Soldiers particularly should, methinks, all be taught to swim; it might be of frequent use, either in surprising an enemy or saving themselves; and if I had now boys to educate, I should prefer those schools (other things being equal) where an opportunity was afforded for acquiring so advantageous an art, which, once learned, is never forgotten. 


Every person should endeavour to acquire the power of swimming. The fact that the exercise is a healthful accompaniment of bathing, and that lives may be saved by it, even when least expected, is a sufficient argument for the recommendation. The art of swimming is, in reality, very easy. The first consideration is not to attempt to learn to swim too hastily. That is to say, you must not expect to succeed in your efforts to swim, until you have become accustomed to the water, and have overcome your repugnance to the coldness and novelty of bathing. Every attempt will fail until you have acquired a certain confidence in the water, and then the difficulty will soon vanish. 

What Thou Canst Do Thyself, Commit Not to Another.

 Advice to Swimmers (13)

"The exercise of swimming is of the most healthy and agreeable in the world. After having swum for an hour or two in the evening one sleeps coolly the whole night, even during the most ardent heat of summer. Perhaps, the pores being cleansed, the insensible perspiration increases, and occasions this coolness. It is certain that much swimming is the means of stopping diarrhœa, and even of producing a constipation. With respect to those who do not know how to swim, or who are affected with diarrhœa at a season which does not permit them to use that exercise, a warm bath, by cleansing and purifying the skin, is found very salutary, and often effects a radical cure. I speak from my own experience, frequently repeated, and that of others, to whom I have recommended this. 

 Advice to Swimmers (14)

"When I was a boy, I amused myself one day with flying a paper kite; and approaching the banks of the lake, which was nearly a mile broad, I tied the string to a stake, and the kite ascended to a very considerable height above the pond, while I was swimming. In a little time, being desirous of amusing myself with my kite, and enjoying at the same time the pleasure of swimming, I returned, and loosening from the stake the string, with the little stick which was fastened to it, went again into the water, where I found that, lying on my back, and holding the stick in my hand, I was drawn along the surface of the water in a very agreeable manner. Having then engaged another boy to carry my clothes round the pond, to a place which I pointed out to him on the other side, I began to cross the pond with my kite, which carried me quite over without the least fatigue, and with the greatest pleasure imaginable. I was only obliged occasionally to halt a little in my course, and resist its progress, when it appeared that by following too quickly, I lowered the kite too much; by doing which occasionally I made it rise again. I have never since that time practised this singular mode of swimming, and I think it not impossible to cross, in this manner, from Dover to Calais." 

 Dr. Franklin's Advice to Swimmers

"The only obstacle to improvement in this necessary and life-preserving art is fear: and it is only by overcoming this timidity that you can expect to become a master of the following acquirements. It is very common for novices in the art of swimming to make use of cork or bladders to assist in keeping the body above water; some have utterly condemned the use of them; however, they may be of service for supporting the body while one is learning what is called the stroke, or that manner of drawing in and striking out the hands and feet that is necessary to produce progressive motion. But you will be no swimmer till you can place confidence in the power of the water to support you; I would, therefore, advise the acquiring that confidence in the first place; especially as I have known several who, by a little practice, necessary for that purpose, have insensibly acquired the stroke, taught, as it were, by nature.

The practice I mean is this: choosing a place where the water deepens gradually, walk coolly into it till it is up to your breast; then turn round your face to the shore, and throw an egg into the water between you and the shore; it will sink to the bottom and be easily seen there if the water be clear. It must lie in the water so deep that you cannot reach to take it up but by diving for it. To encourage yourself in order to do this, reflect that your progress will be from deep to shallow water, and that at any time you may, by bringing your legs under you, and standing on the bottom, raise your head far above the water; then plunge under it with your eyes open, which must be kept open on going under, as you cannot open the eyelids for the weight of water above you; throwing yourself toward the egg, and endeavouring by the action of your hands and feet against the water to get forward, till within reach of it.

In this attempt you will find that the water buoys you up against your inclination; that it is not so easy to sink as you imagine, and that you cannot, but by active force, get down to the egg. Thus you feel the power of water to support you, and learn to confide in that power, while your endeavours to overcome it, and reach the egg, teach you the manner of acting on the water with your feet and hands, which action is afterwards used in swimming to support your head higher above the water, or to go forward through it.