Newton’s Third Law of Motion states that for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. If your adult head weighs 14-16 lbs. and is totally out of water to breathe incorrectly, then that same amount of force or weight must be driven downward to your feet and legs.
Spatial awareness plays a key role in learning what a level body position should be on top of the water. You can achieve this by starting at home using your mattress or the floor.
Lie down with your arms outstretched so that one hand is placed on top of the other. Stretch out far enough to feel your upper arms pressed up against your ears. Also keep your legs together and point your toes to get more streamlined to move through the water easier.
Take a breath so you can place your forehead directly down on the mattress. This will not let your mouth to breathe so hold your breath for 15-20 seconds and stretch out as much as you can.
Next time you get to the shallow end of a pool or lake push off with your head down and see how far you can glide. Then do the same push off and raise your head up after you start your glide and see what happens.
For competitors it’s easy to want to use your goggles to look forward and see the wall for your turns. But raising up your forehead just 2-3 degrees will cause your hips and legs to drop and create that much more drag. In a short 50 sprint this can mean the difference of .5-.8 seconds!
For beginners after you can hold your breath and hold on to the wall in your arm brace position, start out your floating level with your head down. Then raise up just your head and feel what happens to your lower half.
Would you rather be a barge or a water ski? This is an easy experiment all instructors should do with their beginners and keep emphasizing how your head controls your body position. And use imagery cues like what an air mattress would look like on the water level.