Survival Back Float

Survival Back Float  #

Introduction  #

The Survival Back Float safety skillSafety skillA method which improves the ability to interact with water in a way that increases the likelihood of avoiding and/or recovering from a hazardous aquatic situation. develops Stationary Surface CompetencyStationary Surface CompetencyStationary Surface Competency is the knowledge, skill, and experience necessary to remain at one location on the surface of the water for sustained periods of time for both strategic and energy-conservation purposes. Understanding the relationship between breathing and buoyancy and utilizing that relationship to affect buoyancy and body position are core components of being able to stay at the surface for extended periods of time. Physical abilities associated with this competency include being able to float in more than one position and being able to generate upward (vertical) propulsion with the arms and legs to keep the head above the surface. Cognitive abilities include understanding whether a floating skill or a treading skill is best suited for a given situation and set of conditions, and determining which specific floating or treading technique may be the most effective for the task at hand. , Breath Control CompetencyBreath Control CompetencyBreath Control Competency is the knowledge, skill, and experience necessary to breathe effectively in a controlled manner without using excessive energy, interfering with other movements, or compromising body position while in the water. Physical abilities associated with this competency include the physical exchange of air and keeping the body in a position at the surface so that the exchange of air can occur. Cognitive abilities include determining when to breathe and when to hold the breath. Affective abilities include responding to stimuli and situations in a calm manner with the face both above and below the surface of the water. , and Risk CompetencyRisk CompetencyRisk Competency is the knowledge, skill, and experience necessary to understand, analyze, and assess the risks of aquatic environments, and to be able to cope with risk by applying risk-management strategies. Cognitive abilities associated with this competency include problem solving, analyzing options, and determining how best to avoid or reduce risks in a given situation. Affective abilities include responding to stimuli and situations in a calm manner and an awareness of how emotions can affect decision making. as primary competencies. The goal of Survival Back Float is to teach students how to remain at the surface on their back in a relaxed body position with an emphasis on energy conservation. In comparison to the Back Float motor skill, which requires more control to remain flat on the surface with no movement, Survival Back Float is characterized by a sloped body position with the limbs slightly sculling to remain at the surface.

Instructors should teach students how to control and relax their body at the surface for much longer periods than the short time of the assessment. Instruction topics include identifying when Survival Back Float would be useful and why (i.e., energy expenditure and breathing).

Safety knowledge  #

Assessment prompt  #

What can you do if you are out in the water and feel yourself getting tired?

Acceptable responses  #

  • Change to a skill where you are moving less
  • Switch to an easier skill
  • Do a resting skill
  • Float instead of swim

Description  #

The Survival Back Float safety skill is defined by the following body posturePostureThe particular way the body is held while doing an activity. Mobility specialists define posture as the way you position your body or arrange your limbs, such as “to stand up straight with your shoulders back and your chin up.” , arm formsFormThe visible shape or configuration of something. Mobility specialists define form as an arrangement of the elements in a composition; the way something (or someone) is shaped or arranged. , leg forms, breathing, and timing characteristics and features.

Survival Back Float Description  #


  1. Body positioned on backBack / On backA supineSupineSituated on the back, or dorsal, surface of the body with the face and chest upward.
    body position such that the face and chest are oriented up. “On back” means to have a supine body position on or near the surface of the water.
  2. Chest at or just under surface
  3. Body relaxed and stationary
  4. Face above surface with ears under surface


  1. Arms extendedExtendFor limbs – to fully straighten and reach towards or away from something. For joints – to straighten, not flex. out at or near surface
  2. Arms relaxed and still; may scull or fin slightly to help maintain buoyancy


  1. Legs and hips may sag below surface
  2. Legs relaxed and still; may kick slightly to help maintain buoyancy


  1. Breathing controlledControlled breathingBreathing in a consistent and repeating manner that does not interfere with performing a skill. and regular
Survival Back Float Demonstration  #

Video demonstration of the skill.

Assessment  #

Scoring rules  #

The following scoring rulesScoring rulesA guide used to evaluate performance of distance or time measured skills that includes descriptions of one or more criteria to determine whether to continue or halt the assessment process. specify the performance characteristics used to determine when to halt the skill assessment. A single measurement is recorded based on the instructor’s judgment of the student’s performance.

Survival Back Float Scoring Rules  #


Record time duration until student exhibits any of the following:

  • Requires assistanceAssistance / AssistedPerforming a skill or a component of a skill with the use of a structure, instructor, or flotation aid. or becomes unsafe
  • Moves body into a position other than on back
  • Has trunk angle, from shoulders to hips, more than 45 degrees from the surface
  • Has excessive lateral or directional movement
  • Has face mostly below the surface
  • Holds head with ears above the surface
  • Moves arms and/or legs excessively to maintain surface position
  • Uses the pool bottom to maintain surface position
  • Holds on to a stationary object or flotation aid
  • Touches the pool wall or another student repeatedly
  • Does not breathe in a controlled and regular manner
  • Reaches the maximum time of 30 seconds