Navy Seal

This Is How To Survive Drowning, According To A Navy SEAL


If you’re unaware, New Zealand is essentially two (well, three) islands. We’re surrounded by ocean, and most of us get taught some degree of surf safety at school at some stage. We know about rips and how dangerous they are, and yet I would hazard a guess at not a huge amount of us actually knowing what to do should we be in the perilous situation of possibly drowning. I certainly don’t, but thankfully Clint Emerson does.

Clint is a former US Navy SEAL who recently wrote a book about 100 of the vital skills he learnt during his tenure. 100 Deadly Skills: The SEAL Operative’s Guide is a terrifyingly interesting insight into what the SEALs train and prepare for. In the book, Clint also explains what to do if someone tries to drown you in either shallow water or you’re caught in rough sea.

He says:

“When an operative is captured in hostile territory, the odds of survival are low.

Instead of being taken to trial, he will likely simply be made to “disappear” — which is why operatives practice escaping while wearing undefeatable restraints on hands and feet, both in water and on land.

Tied up, thrown into open waters, and left to drown to death, the well-trained operative still has recourse to a few skills that can help extend his life until he is found or reaches solid ground.”

Everything sounds peachy, right? So how do you stay alive?

“When it comes to self-preservation in water, the key to survival is breath control. With the lungs full of air, the human body is buoyant — so deep breaths and quick exhales are key.

Buoyancy in freshwater is more challenging but still achievable. Panicking, which can lead to hyperventilation, is the number-one enemy to survival.

Restraints and body positioning may make breathing a challenge, but repositioning is always within the Nomad’s grasp. In shallow waters, use a sinking and bouncing approach to travel toward shore, ricocheting off the seabed or lake floor up to the surface for an inhale.

When facing down, whether floating in place or using a backward kicking motion to swim to shore, the operative should arch his back in order to raise his head above water.”

Basically, your main goal is to stay afloat. It might be hard, but remaining calm and keeping your breathing deep with quick exhales keeps your body buoyant. And if you’re in the rough seas off the coast of Piha…

“In rough seas, this may not give him enough clearance to get his head out of water. Instead, a full body rotation will allow him to take a deep breath and then continue travelling forward.”

So here you take a breath on your back, rotate so you face down, bring your knees up to your chest and kick out, while exhaling. Rinse and repeat.

To be honest, I’m definitely in the category of ‘Would Get Exhausted Very Fast Due To Bad Fitness’. I wonder if you can kick while on your back? Remind me to try next time I’m helping out James Bond.

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