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11. Practice kicking your legs
Whether floating on your back or still holding on to the side of the pool, practice kicking to maintain balance while you're swimming.
12. Try a flutter kick
The most basic kicks to start with, point your toes out like a ballerina, keep your legs straight, and alternate legs as you make small kicks. You should feel the most flexion in your ankles.
13. Try a whip kick
Keep your legs held tightly together from your hips to your knees, and from your knees to your ankles. Bend your knees so that your shins come up to about a 90-degree angle, then quickly bring your shins apart and move them in a circular motion, keeping your thighs together the whole time. Bring your shins back together at the bottom of the circle, and lift them up again to restart the kick.
14. Try an eggbeater kick
Commonly used to tread water, and stay in a vertical position with your head and shoulders above water. Start with your knees bent and your legs slightly wider than hip-width apart. Then "pedal" each leg as you would on a bike, only they'll go in opposite directions: while one leg pedals "forward," the other leg should pedal "backward." This one takes some practice to get used to, but it's handy for "resting" when your feet can't touch bottom.
15. Try a backstroke first
Similar to a flutter kick with a minor change, float flat on your back, and do a flutter kick with your legs. With your arms, do the "crawl" motion, lifting one arm straight into the air and keeping it straight as it re-enters the water next to your head. Once it's underwater, bend it to bring it back to a straight position next to your side, and repeat. Alternate arms as you swim, and try to keep your fingers together and your hands as flat as possible.
16. Try a frontstroke
Floating on your stomach, do a flutter kick with your legs and use your arms to "crawl" forward. Bring one arm out of the water so that it's "reaching" forward, then bring it back down and use your cupped hand to "push" the water behind you. Alternate arms. To breathe, turn your head to one side under the arm that's currently crawling, lifting enough for you to take a breath once every two strokes.
17. Tread water
Treading water can help you catch your breath and keep your head up without actually swimming. For treading, do the eggbeater kick, and use your hands to keep your balance by "sculling" - keep your forearms flat on the surface of the water, and imagine they're butter knives spreading on a piece of toast. Move one arm in a clockwise circle, and the other arm in a counterclockwise circle.
18. Use your arms to come up from the bottom
If you're below water and want to come up, use your arms to propel yourself. Put them straight up above your head, and quickly bring them down to your sides. This should push you up a few feet. Repeat until you break the surface.
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