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learn to swim backwards
How good is your reversing? – Learn to swim backwards

Written by farkasdo


First of all, why should you learn the backward kick at all?

Have you ever bumped into your buddy? Tried to take a photo but got too close to the corals and your hands were occupied with the camera? Or just tried to hover motionless but kept moving slightly forward all the time?

While this skill is mandatory on most technical diving courses, it seems that many people struggle to master it, and even some instructor have hard time to explain how to do it.

I do not have the Holy Grail. But I developed a simple method that works quite well in most cases. Would you like to master this super useful skill? Follow these steps! If you succeed, I would like to hear back from you! Or, if you still struggle, please feel free to message me, maybe I can give some personalized advice. Are you a recreational diver? This skill can help you in many situations.


Step 0.

Balance. Try to hover motionless with your arms and legs stretched out and see whether you tilt anywhere. You can not start the learning process without sorting your balance out.

Back kicking will tilt you slightly head down, therefore if you already a bit off balance, especially head heavy, it will not work.

how to learn the backward kick

Step 1.

Understand the position of the fins and legs. Keep your ankles locked in 90 degrees and legs stretched straight out. Pro tip: Your legs should be slightly dropped below your body line. The kick itself is simply opening the legs. Nothing to do with the knees. Don’t pull your heels up towards your buttocks. Similar to doing a Jumping Jack.

And now

Practice on the surface. Did I mention already that the kick will try to tilt you a bit head down – – leg up position? This obviously can not happen on the surface. [wink wink] Also you can learn the foot-leg-ankle position easier. If you can, practice without equipment on. The less drag you have, the easier is to get the hang of the movement.

Step 2.

It is time to try it underwater! I know you have heard until now, that all skills should be performed in perfect trim… Except this one. Start in an upright position. When you do the kick, it will get you horizontal… Then let the legs drop, and do the next kick. Don’t rush. Make sure after each attempt you get back into the starting position. After you get the hang of it, you will be able to do it also in horizontal trim.

Tips and tricks:

  • You don’t have to make a huge, strong movement. It is the same as a frogkick. If you try to do it strong, the resistance of the water will push you back.
  • Patience. I don’t need to elaborate on this, I guess
  • Keep your leg below the body line. If you keep them too high, you will simply cut the water with the edge of the fin. You might move back a little, but it won’t be the stable efficient movement that you are looking for.

Typical mistakes:

The typical mistakes can be while you learn to swim backward:

  • Starting with your legs/feet too high, resulting in not moving back just tilting head down – legs up
  • Not locking the ankles/ not pointing fins down. Result: you will cut the water with the edge of the fins which might move you backward slightly, but not very effectively
  • Trying to get back to starting position too fast. Result: the little momentum you gained backward is lost, and you probably end up in the same place or slightly forward.


I really hope this little tutorial helped you to learn or finetune your method of back kicking. Please let me know if it worked, also if it did not. If you have any questions about it, please feel free to contact me or leave a comment! 

If you have found this article helpful, just share it with your dive buddies! I am sure, they would love to know about it as well.  


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