Orientation in the Water


  • Horizontal rotation (front to back and back to front)
  • Horizontal to vertical rotation and vice versa (front or back to upright and return)
  • Vertical rotation (half rotation and full rotation) around the body’s vertical axis


Students should:

  • Have confidence in their control of rolling movements
    • Horizontal rotation is the rolling of the body from back to front and front to back
    • Horizontal to vertical rotation is the movement of body from a horizontal (front or back) to a vertical position
    • Vertical rotation is spinning around a vertical axis (for example, to look around while treading water). It is not a somersault

Some more information

A controlled and confident horizontal rotation (e.g. with a slow count to three) would earn a student an achieved. Practice in a range of moving water environments (such as currents or waves) would further develop this skill.

A horizontal to vertical rotation would be marked as achieved when the student can move from a horizontal position on either their front or back to a vertical position. An example of this is if a student moves from propelling themselves forward to a treading water position.

The final orientation skill – vertical rotation – is achieved when the student can spin vertically (for example turn while treading water to look for a boat). A vertical rotation is not a somersault.

Supporting video

Example skills were filmed in a 1m deep pool.
For more useful video links, see our multimedia page

Top Tip

Everyone’s body is different. Encourage students to experiment with hand, head and leg movements to control where the body moves to.


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