Sinking and Swimming

Do you float or sink?


  • Total voters
    59

cslewis

macrumors 6502a
Original poster
Jul 23, 2004
812
0
40º27.8''N, 75º42.8''W
While I was at the municipal swimming pool today, I noticed something interesting. I was hanging out in the diving well with a few of my friends, sitting around and trying to stay afloat. The problem was that I kept sinking into the water. In fact, if I didn't vigorously kick my legs and flail my arms I slowly sank. While all of my other friends could lay on their backs and float, I was left bobbing upright with my head half an inch below the surface. Why is that? Why do certain people float and certain people sink?
 

mad jew

Moderator emeritus
Apr 3, 2004
32,199
5
Adelaide, Australia
Fat people float. If you're skinny, you'll find it hard to float. If you're muscly, you'll find it even harder. It's also dependent on how much air you're keeping in your lungs. :)
 

iGary

Guest
May 26, 2004
19,583
1
Randy's House
mac_head101 said:
While I was at the municipal swimming pool today, I noticed something interesting. I was hanging out in the diving well with a few of my friends, sitting around and trying to stay afloat. The problem was that I kept sinking into the water. In fact, if I didn't vigorously kick my legs and flail my arms I slowly sank. While all of my other friends could lay on their backs and float, I was left bobbing upright with my head half an inch below the surface. Why is that? Why do certain people float and certain people sink?
Did you have two lungs full of air?

mad jew said:
Fat people float. If you're skinny, you'll find it hard to float. If you're muscly, you'll find it even harder. It's also dependent on how much air you're keeping in your lungs. :)
Me and the jew rock the house. ;)
 

devilot

Moderator emeritus
May 1, 2005
15,588
1
Hm, and here I thought buoyancy was something about maintaining less density. :p

Actually though, I think it's more than just fat vs thinner people. Some people are just more buoyant (I'm sure someone more knowledgable than I will come and tell us more).

Man, the poll doesn't it cut it for me. I can somewhat float. My legs and feet start to sink. :eek:
 

cslewis

macrumors 6502a
Original poster
Jul 23, 2004
812
0
40º27.8''N, 75º42.8''W
iGary said:
Did you have two lungs full of air?
Yep, I breathed in so heavily it hurt.

madjew said:
Fat people float. If you're skinny, you'll find it hard to float. If you're muscly, you'll find it even harder. It's also dependent on how much air you're keeping in your lungs.
Ah, do you think losing 24 pounds in two months would do that? I could float last summer... :p
 

mad jew

Moderator emeritus
Apr 3, 2004
32,199
5
Adelaide, Australia
mac_head101 said:
Ah, do you think losing 24 pounds in two months would do that? I could float last summer... :p

Depends. As devilot said, it's a matter of density which means it is dependent on weight and volume. Remember, muscle is more dense than fat. :)
 

jsw

Moderator emeritus
Mar 16, 2004
22,910
41
Andover, MA
I used to sink like a rock. Now I float like styrofoam. The whole fat/muscle/density thing is true.
 

devilot

Moderator emeritus
May 1, 2005
15,588
1
jsw said:
Now I float like styrofoam.
Heh. Hahha. I'm sorry, I find that hillarious. Especially because I know that I've seen styrofoam float, but I don't know where, how, or why. :D :eek:
 

thedude110

macrumors 68020
Jun 13, 2005
2,478
2
I really dislike the idea of immersing myself in water without standing on something somewhat solid. :eek:

So, I don't intend to find out if I float or sink.

Short of some catastrophe.

May my buoyancy remain mysterious, then ...
 

DeSnousa

macrumors 68000
Jan 20, 2005
1,616
0
Brisbane, Australia
For some strange reason I find that when you are not concentrating on swimming i.e. floating, you float naturally with out any effort, but once you realise you are floating you quickly begin to sink and have to 'force' yourself to float.

A long time ago when I did not know how to swim, I was at a beach paying close attention to the water (not looking at the shore) as such I did not realise that the tide pulled me back a good 50 metres. I was floating naturally when I did not realise this, however I eventually looked up at the shore and instantly when I realised that I was in really deep water, began to sink. I owe my life to a surfer who was around and offered assistance.

As a side not I highly recommend people who can't swim take some lessons, its the best thing you can do for yourself. I took a course on swimming and surviving and can safely feel confident around the water. It included everything such as cpr, swimming, to learning about tides, waves, and etc
 

puckhead193

macrumors G3
May 25, 2004
9,243
466
NY
i float. but i'm i'm whimpy body figure so ya....
When i was in australia and went scuba diving i was down swimming around then all of sudden i floated up to the surface almost hitting my head on the bottom of the boat... now that's freaky...:eek: :eek:
 

Mr. Anderson

Moderator emeritus
Nov 1, 2001
22,561
0
VA
I'm not fat, but I float (large lungs). If I exhale, I'll sink. This works great while snorkeling.

D
 
C

CompUser

Guest
Andy, the best thing to do start to sink normally, level your body so your entire front of your body is facing the bottom of the pool, and then just let all the air out of your lungs. Its really fun. You sink like a rock and you can lay on the bottom. Just don't do it too much or you will get a really bad headache.
 

sushi

Moderator emeritus
Jul 19, 2002
15,658
3
キャンプスワ&#
CompUser said:
Andy, the best thing to do start to sink normally, level your body so your entire front of your body is facing the bottom of the pool, and then just let all the air out of your lungs. Its really fun. You sink like a rock and you can lay on the bottom. Just don't do it too much or you will get a really bad headache.
That's fun to do.

Floatability varies with the type of water as well. It is much easier to float in salt water vice fresh water.

For kicks, take a deep breath, dive down a little ways (5-6 feet), then curl up like a ball holding your arms around your legs. Then stay that way. You will eventually float to the surface with your back being the high point.
 

Doctor Q

Administrator
Staff member
Sep 19, 2002
37,546
3,623
Los Angeles
I haven't tested how people sink or float, but I did test the claim that diet soft drinks float and non-diet soft drinks sink. It was true, at least for Cokes.

I'll have to throw some people in the water next, to see if dieters sink and non-dieters float.
 

sushi

Moderator emeritus
Jul 19, 2002
15,658
3
キャンプスワ&#
DeSnousa said:
As a side not I highly recommend people who can't swim take some lessons, its the best thing you can do for yourself. I took a course on swimming and surviving and can safely feel confident around the water. It included everything such as cpr, swimming, to learning about tides, waves, and etc
Couldn't agree more.

Ya never know when you might end up in water. And knowing what to do can save your life.
 

thedude110

macrumors 68020
Jun 13, 2005
2,478
2
DeSnousa said:
As a side not I highly recommend people who can't swim take some lessons, its the best thing you can do for yourself.
Better than keeping a positive mental outlook? :D

*counts on other MRers to save him when the apocalypse comes*
 

miniConvert

macrumors 68040
I got an award from the mayor once for doing a star float. You have no idea how many years I have waited to be able to say that...

If I breathe in, I float. If I breathe out, I sink. If I lie on my back I can normally stay afloat :)
 

Mr. Durden

macrumors 6502a
Jan 13, 2005
716
0
Colorado
Ive got the sinking leg condition as well. Generally I float though. Pretty effortlessly in fact. I did grow up on an island and did a lot of swimming though. Maybe its just natural at this point? Anyway, it does seem easier to float in the ocean than to float in a pool. Maybe our sinkers should try the ocean and see if its any different.
 

devilot

Moderator emeritus
May 1, 2005
15,588
1
Mr. Durden said:
Anyway, it does seem easier to float in the ocean than to float in a pool.
That's 'cause salt changes the density of the water. :D Wait, right? Right? :eek: