"Dead man's float" (and not in OED)

Spanbock/Svoboda-Spanbock spanbocks at VERIZON.NET
Sun Jun 1 23:38:44 UTC 2014

I have a hard time understanding how being vertical could provide more buoyancy, since you are distributing the same amount of mass over a greater area if you lie horizontally, thereby becoming relatively less dense and therefore more buoyant?


On Jun 1, 2014, at 3:08 PM, Joel S. Berson wrote:

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> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> Poster:       "Joel S. Berson" <Berson at ATT.NET>
> Subject:      "Dead man's float" (and not in OED)
> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
> In "Tales From the City" in today's Boston Globe magazine section, a
> Newton resident writes that "at the Boston Sports Clubs' [sic]
> Watertown location" he overheard an "exchange between a swimming
> instructor and a boy of 5 or 6."
> "Instructor: 'You've just learned the dead man's float. What's great
> about that?'
> "Boy: 'I don't know.'
> "Instructor: 'Well, if you get into difficulties, you're on your back
> and can breathe easily. You can then just float to the side of the
> pool or call for help.'
> "Boy: 'What if I don't have a cellphone?'
> The joke may be funny, but the swimming instructor's instructions are
> not.  In the dead man's float I was taught, one floats vertically,
> face immersed with just the top of the head out of water, raising the
> head periodically to breathe.  See
> http://www.ehow.com/how_6582_survival-float.html (AKA the jellyfish
> or dead man's float).  That provides more buoyancy than floating on
> one's back, important for people whose density approaches that of water.
> P.S.  "Dead man's float" not in OED.
> Joel
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