Swimming Game – Back float contest

Category: Individual challenge

Core Skill: backstroke, posture, balance

Name: Back Float Contest


This game is best played in a diving well, or a large open area where you don’t have any lane lines.

Here is how we explain the game.

“When I say “go,” you will find your own space away from the wall and tread water until the game begins. When the game starts, you will have to float on your back in soldier position. The goal is to stay floating on the surface the longest. In order to stay at the surface you are allowed to kick 5 times,  but no more. If you move your arms or hands to stay up you’ll be DQ’d, and if you kick more than 5 times you’ll be DQ’d. The winner is the person who can do this the longest.”


When everyone has their spot, count down from 10 and start the game. Coaches and instructors either stand on deck, or observe from in the water and determine DQs.


The goals are pretty simple: float on your back without moving your arms as long as possible. This in itself isn’t terribly difficult, but we add the additional conditions:

  • You can only kick 5 times
    • this includes flutter kicks (each one counts as 1)
    • Any foot motion is considered a kick
  • You can not use your arms or hands to make yourself float or stabilize.
  • Any arm/hand motion other than current or flow from water results in disqualification
  • More than 5 kicks is a disqualification
  • If you sink, or body more than 45° then disqualified. (looks vertical)


Generally we have ties, and 2-4 people who are exceptionally good at this will last longer than we want and we’ll stop the game early. Our goal is a quick personal challenge with this swimming lesson game.  Because we’re working on back floating we want to reiterate the importance of a strong engaged core and good quality posture in soldier position to remain at the surface.

A secondary skill this game teaches is the importance of breath control and learning how inhaling will make your body more buoyant.


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