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Zombie Warfare Preparation: Zombies Don't Swim

Updated on June 10, 2015
cperuzzi profile image

Christopher Peruzzi is surviving a zombie apocalypse. He is the author of "The Undead Rose" in the "Once Upon An Apocalypse" anthology.

Zombies don't swim
Zombies don't swim

by Christopher Peruzzi

If the zombie apocalypse were upon us, where would you run?

These are things you should know and plan for before it happens - not during. You are being "hunted" by creatures that are no longer living. They don't eat, sleep, go to the bathroom, or even breathe. Most importantly, they are relentless. They won't stop until they get fresh, living, meat - like you, for instance.

If you are not lucky enough to be in a strong fortification with enough supplies to wait out the living dead, you will probably find yourself running for your life while a horde of undead pursue you. On open ground, your choices are quite limited. You'll be safe in your car until you run out of gas. You'll be safe in your house, until you run out of food (or until enough of the dead push down your door). You'll be safe with other people until one of them "turns".

But what about taking your chances on the water?

Typical Base Problems

Type of Base
Biggest Handicap
No water for humans. Zombies are made of "jerky" now.
As zombie muscles dry, they get easier to snap.
Mosquitoes, alligators, bugs, snakes, and smell.
The moist climate makes zombies deteriorate faster
Snow and Tundra
Cold. While zombies freeze they come back once they've thawed.
Frozen zombies are easy to kill.
You are cut off from all resources. If you run out of water, you're screwed.
While zombies don't drown - they don't swim, either.
Zombies could be locked inside with you.
Zombies outside stay outside.
If you feel swimming in a lake full of zombies is your best course of action, please dive in first.
If you feel swimming in a lake full of zombies is your best course of action, please dive in first. | Source

Swimming for it

I know what you're thinking. You're thinking, "If I jump into the water the zombies won't come after me."

Why wouldn't they?

These are unthinking automations. They don't fear anything - they certainly won't fear going into a pool or a lake... or even the ocean. If you run into the water, you have every reason to believe that they will shuffle along after you eventually.

Well, I have some good news and I have some bad news.

The good news is that zombies don't swim. There's some actual thinking that goes into the mechanics of doing the Australian crawl or the breast stroke - even a dog paddle. You need to think about how to swim. Zombies don't have that kind of brain power. They just know you as "wet food".

Here's the bad news: Zombies don't swim. When you think about it, it's just as George Carlin said about swimming "not being a sport." Swimming is a way to keep from drowning. Human beings are afraid of drowning because it leads to death. And when we think about why people drown, it's because they've fallen below the water line and can not breathe.

Zombies don't breathe.

So what does this mean? It means that there is no air in their lungs. With the exception of any fat that might be in their body, they shouldn't even float. With no air in their body, they will be (please forgive the pun) dead weight - and walk right into the water. And they will keep walking.

What you have to be worried about is if a zombie, while under water can grab at your legs while you're trying to stay afloat. If the water is deep, this isn't an issue. However, if the water is shallow (under 20 feet deep - taking the average height of a human being as six foot tall add the length of three feet of length to a zombie arm plus the five feet or so height of the swimmer), you have a very real possibility of being dragged under.

I would also be wary of lakes as you have no idea if there's a zombie already there. Should a zombie be underwater, there is very little motivation for it to resurface unless there is something to attract it. Should it sense a swimmer, it may move toward it.

Offshore Oil Rig
Offshore Oil Rig

Shameless Plug

Once Upon an Apocalypse: 23 Twisted Fairy Tales
Once Upon an Apocalypse: 23 Twisted Fairy Tales
If you love twisted fairy tales and you like zombies, this book is for you. This anthology will give you the best of both worlds.

Boats and Off Shore Oil Rigs

Provided that you have a well stocked boat with plenty of fresh water, a boat isn't a bad plan for escape. You are safe so long as your supplies hold out. A boat offers relative safety and will certainly allow you and your party a decent night's sleep - depending on how large the boat is.

If you are with a small party of people and you suspect that one of them is infected, you can (depending where you are geographically) drop them off at a nearby island or dispose of them at sea after "euthanizing" them. The legality of this is questionable given the freedom of the seas and a charge of "murder".

Please be aware that a boat is a mixed blessing. If you do not have sufficient supplies and fresh water and gas being caught out at sea can be just as deadly as being with the undead. A boat escape should be considered in the event of a quick get away and that precautions have been taken.

Along the same lines, there are offshore oil rigs. Offshore oil rigs have the advantage of being well stocked and away from heavy population zones. The chances of a break out or infection on an oil rig are slim to none. They are usually well fortified, well stocked, and have weapons on board. Given that these structures are somewhat self sustaining in regards to power, this would be a great location to sit out the infection, until the eventual resupply of stocks are needed. However, given the quantity of food and medical supplies on the structure, that should not be for a long time.

Zombie Survival Quiz

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Final Thoughts

Escape by water is a mixed blessing. It may be more dangerous to attempt swimming than running away from a ghoul. As zombies don't need to breathe air, they are good underwater walkers and may already be lying in wait for an unfortunate swimmer to be pulled under. Swimming is only a viable option in deep water where you can see the bottom - like a deep indoor diving pool. In trying to use this option as either an escape or a way to bide your time, be aware that you will need to tread water for any time you will spend swimming - and that can be tiring.

On the flip side, a boat or ship can provide temporary relief, provided that it is well stocked and reliable. It can allow a small team of people comfort and relative safety for extended periods of time. Offshore oil rigs are even better as they have well stock provisions on board and will not be readily available to any of the walking dead.

The key to all of these escapes is preparedness and planning.

© 2012 Christopher Peruzzi


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    • cperuzzi profile imageAUTHOR

      Christopher Peruzzi 

      8 years ago from Freehold, NJ

      I've discovered that the only thing I like killing more than zombies is idiotic troll posts. I run tight ship with little room for nonsense.

    • cperuzzi profile imageAUTHOR

      Christopher Peruzzi 

      8 years ago from Freehold, NJ


      Yes, zombies freeze - that's the good news. The bad news is that zombies freeze and they thaw out as well.

      Therefore it's best to make zombie hunting season in the winter months when they are frozen solid and can have their brain destroyed. They should also be marked for later in the year when they thaw out - so they may be cremated.

      Sorry to hear about the boat. However, all things are impermanent - boats could be in your future. :)



      It is interesting to think of a zombie's attention span. I was trying to piece this together since the final episode of "the Walking Dead". There are a few theories on the subject and I'm going to try to put forth the best hypothesis.

      On the one hand, we have a very good book called "The Zombie Autopsies: Secret Notebooks from the Apocalypse" by Steven C. Schlozman. While there are some things that are not consistent with typical zombie biology (he suggests that there is a working circulatory system), I would like to think it would nicely sync up with the theory that zombies are working with the "reptile" part of the human brain - meaning that they use the basal ganglia portion of the brain that is responsible for typical instinctual behaviors involved in aggression, dominance, territoriality, and ritual displays.

      On the other hand, we have "The Walking Dead" watching a helicopter and following it until something else takes their attention.

      But that does not answer the question entirely. "How long is a zombie's attention span?"

      Here's what I think - I think a zombie will be fixed on something until something else takes its place. A zombie could be fixed on you... until it hears a noise or sees another piece of prey - as a distraction.

      It's like working with the worst case scenario of Attention Deficit Disorder. They are hyper-focused until they aren't.

      Remember, we're talking about mindless automations.

    • Dominique L profile image

      Dominique L 

      8 years ago from Oregon

      Okay, I think what all this hinges on, actually, is the realtive attention span of a zombie. Say a zombie sees you run onto a boat and decides, why wouldn't it? to wade in after you. Zombie don't move fast, especially when through water since they're dead weight as you mentioned (I know you said not to, but I still laughed when I read that). So you're going super fast and the zombie is plodding along, and eventually you're out of sight and the boat can no longer be heard (granting a large body of water here) how long before the zombie thinks the brain dead equivalent of "what the heck was I doing down here again? Wait, maybe I can eat that little fish..."? Doesn't make them any less dangerous, but I once read a paper about models of zombie habitation that posited that zombies would avoid water simply because, the really big bodies of water were in rural areas that weren't likely to have enough population to sustain a zombie herd, only if they got desperate they would move out into those areas. And I can't imagine they'd stay in the water for long, as you have to move to find food, unless they do start eating fish.

      And I'm going to ask this again, because someday someone will answer me: Do zombies eat cartilege? Yes, I am still thinking of the underwater fight scene from Lucio Fulci's Zombie, as you all should be when we talk about water zombies.

    • hecate-horus profile image


      8 years ago from Rowland Woods

      Great. We sold our boat because we never use it anymore. I just want to kick myself now. Where was this hub a year ago? oh well, I'll just have to wait things out with my arsonal and stock piled food.

      Here's a strange, maybe stupid question: Do the undead freeze? Like, say for instance, you moved to Alaska to escape the horde. Could a zombie freeze solid and thus become immobile in long-term subzero temps? It's got to slow them down a litte at least. (interesting, voted up)

    • cperuzzi profile imageAUTHOR

      Christopher Peruzzi 

      8 years ago from Freehold, NJ


      I recommend you picking up a copy of the Zombie Survival Guide by Max Brooks. The oil rig idea was his. He has others that are really good. He also points out the problems with some others. :)


      I've given thought to the moat idea. It's good if you empty the moat every so often. It would only be problematic with an extremely large horde. Burning the zombies in the moat may not work without surrounding the house with unbeatable smoke.

    • Phil Plasma profile image

      Phil Plasma 

      8 years ago from Montreal, Quebec

      I was thinking about putting a very deep moat around my house, but then as more zombies piled in, the ones at the bottom would end up forming a platform for the subsequent ones that came in.

      Great hub, but I think the people already at the oil rig would not permit new people as they might suspect there are zombies among you.

    • LVidoni5 profile image

      Leone Vidoni 

      8 years ago from Portland, Oregon

      This is awesome. My brothers and I were just discussing our weapons of choice for the zombie apocalypse, though we never considered where the best hide out would be. An oil rig seems like the money spot, maybe with a few escape boats to gather supplies, yeah I like this rig idea. I wonder if 'The Walking Dead' will incorporate a group living at sea. Haha, Brilliant!


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