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Women float better than men because they have boobs.

Myth Busted

An age old favourite and guaranteed Germaine Greer goader, this one. What is floating, exactly? In water, a person is pulled down by gravity, and pushed up by buoyancy. When the two opposing forces are equal, we float. It is widely accepted that women do float in water more easily than men, but the explanation does not lie in the breast department. Rather it has to do with differences in body composition in other areas, principally bone – female bones tend to be less dense, and therefore relatively more buoyant, than their male equivalents.

Other factors contribute to this difference in buoyancy too. The facts are simple: fat is slightly less dense than water, and muscle slightly more dense. So the amounts of each will also have an effect. Women tend to have more body fat overall (the normal range is 21-31%, compared with 14-24% in a man), and hence they float more easily. In addition, the distribution of that fat will have an influence on buoyancy – your typical female will have their fat apportioned roughly equally between top and bottom halves, and hence stay relatively flat in the water, whilst the average male has a large amount of upper body fat and virtually none in their legs, resulting in a rather unequal buoyancy and a top half that wants to bob up out of the water whilst their lower limbs sink. Muscle density is about 18% greater than that of fat, so the more muscular an individual, the less buoyant they will be.

Clearly all of this can be modified by external factors – wetsuits, weightbelts, BCDs etc. – no-one should be losing any sleep over their body composition and its effect on buoyancy. So make peace with your funbags, laydeez, and celebrate their beneficial effect on your horizontal trim!

H2O Dive