In his very informative book, 100 Deadly Skills, Clint Emerson describes 100 necessary survival skills. However, Emerson believes that one technique could potentially be more important than any other: the ability to escape the fate of drowning.
According to Emerson, drowning is quite possibly one of the worst ways to meet your end. In his book, he details how to avoid such a fate by remaining calm and using specialized swimming patterns to your advantage.
“When an operative is captured in hostile territory, the odds of survival are low,” he begins.
“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.
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 (see diagram below) 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.”
Rough waters are a different story, though, according to Emerson. If you are in a particularly harsh body of water or are surrounded by sweeping currents, he explains that,
“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 traveling forward.”
No one ever expects to be in a situation in which they would need to utilize the ability to avoid drowning. However, knowing and understanding how to protect yourself against any circumstance, including drowning, is thoroughly important. Unfortunately, there are situations in life that will test our survival knowledge, and it’s much better to be prepared than to be dead. Of course, drowning isn’t the only situation to prepare for either. Thankfully his book covers a wide array of survival topics to prepare you for almost anything.