AR101 - Some of our adventure races involve a fun tubing section. Usually short and navigation friendly, they are still part of the race and can be done in different ways.
Today we break down three floating styles we have observed and their effectiveness.
Floating on your Back:
Pros: Floating on you back is a very effective style. Resistance is low with all of your body above the water so you can really maximize speed. Kicking is not necessary and your arms should be used to power and steer yourself for long periods of time. This is the best way to go against the current. Plus you are seated and comfortable.
Cons: You will most likely be floating backwards so you need to turn your head to see where you are going. This could potentially lead to run-ins with debris and other solid objects. Also is takes longer to get situated in the tube and it could lead to capsizing.
Floating on your Belly:
Pros: Floating on your belly is a quick way to hop on a tube and go. You can even launch yourself forward when entering the water to get a headstart on anybody around you. Also you will be facing forward the whole time so navigating and avoiding debris is easy.
Cons: Comfortable does not describe this style well. You will need keep your head lifted which can cause your neck and/or back to ache after a while. Paddling can tire your arms out quickly and it can be difficult to reach max speed. You can use your feet to kick but they will also drag behind you causing some resistance when not in use.
Floating Inside the Tube:
Pros: Floating inside the tube is definitley safe and easy. You can simply step-in the tube and jump right in. There is no worry of capsizing because half of your body is in the water. You will most likely be facing foward so navigating and avoiding debris is simple.
Cons: You definitely have to work to get any speed. Half of you is underwater creating a lot of resistance and your chest pushes the tube down. Comfort may not be as bad as floating on your belly, but it still isn't ideal. Plus your legs and feet are exposed to underwater debris that could hurt.
There is no correct way to float and the most important things are that you feel safe and have fun. We prefer to sit in the tube for the reasons we mentioned before. If you are racing you can really paddle fast. If you are relaxing it is very comfortable. It may take some extra effort to get situated but it's worth it.
Everyone is different though. So how do you float?