The example of a self-made sentence:

He had to make a couple of fast strokes to reach the underwater ground to just feel sort of safe from a possible shark attack.

Not that I ask for editing, it's the request for the term for the ground the swimmer steps on coming out of the whatever water he was swimming in. A bottom, ground, bed, floor--what it is, disregarding a body of water

  • Ok, at the beach. Right. He had to execute a couple of fast strokes so his feet could reach/touch the sand. I'd point out that sharks are always in the sea, so a swimmer's feet would have to touch the sand or possibly rock...One would not say the ocean floor here. I share this with you as a body boarder and big time beach swimmer. I don't see how you can disregard the fact it has to be the sea. Aren't all sentences "self-made" i.e. written by ourselves?
    – Lambie
    May 17, 2018 at 21:47
  • 2
    We would say sea floor or ocean floor or the bottom rather than underwater ground. That's if he's swimming down so as not to be attacked from below. The swimmer leaves the ocean and walks up onto the beach or the shore. He swam quickly to shore.
    – TimR
    May 17, 2018 at 21:55

4 Answers 4


There is a phrase used in English for what I think you're describing, but it's a verb phrase rather than a noun. Touch bottom is used when a swimmer is in water shallow enough that their feet can reach solid ground while their head is still above the water. Here's a dictionary from Oxford Dictionaries, with some relevant examples:

Reach the bottom of a body of water with one's feet or a pole.

Example sentences
‘My feet touch bottom… It's cold in the water, but I'm warm.’
. . .
‘He finally struggled close enough to shore so his feet could touch bottom, then he just stood there with the water lapping at his neck.’
. . .
‘Her feet touched bottom and she stood up slowly, revelling in the water flowing from her as she rose from the pool.’

If you wanted to use this phrase in your sentence, you could say something like

He had to make a couple of fast strokes so his feet could touch bottom, to just feel sort of safe from a possible shark attack.

You could probably just say "so he could touch bottom", but using "his feet" clarifies that you don't mean that he swam down to the ocean floor (to be below the sharks, maybe).

Of course, to be actually safe from shark attack, your hero should really get all the way out of the water (sharks can bite in very shallow water), which (from the ocean) means on the shore or beach.

Two notes: It is possible to say that someone "touched bottom" when they swim down or sink to the bottom of a body of water that is over their head, but this should be clear from context. Also, there's a different, figurative use of the same phrase to mean "go as low as you can" (it's definition 1.2 in the same ODO entry; more often phrased as "hit bottom" in the US). Again, this meaning should be clear from context.


The idiomatic way to say that someone left the deeper water and swam to the beach is

He swam quickly to shore.

P.S. And having swum to shore, he's standing on the shore (the land along the edge of the sea, broadly construed) or on the beach (the sandy, rocky, shelly, and/or pebbly ground onto which the surf washes according to the tides).

  • Sure, he does swim quickly to shore. His feet and what they want to reach is what I ask. To the shore, he does swim, what's under his feet? +1 for the interest
    – Victor B.
    May 17, 2018 at 22:42
  • @Rompey: Please see the P.S.
    – TimR
    May 18, 2018 at 9:39

I would say "the shallows"


The shallows in British
a shallow place in a body of water
"At dusk more fish come into the shallows."
"Thousands of little fish swim in the shallows"

He had to make a couple of fast strokes to reach the shallows to just feel sort of safe from a possible shark attack.


"To reach the sandbank" is the phrase here in Australia. It's a pretty common phrase, and is exactly what you describe.

I think you could also say "to reach the shallows".

Looking up "sandbank", it seems it is also known as a shoal, but that term is less familiar to me.


  • "To reach the shallows"--upvote by all means,
    – Victor B.
    May 17, 2018 at 22:16
  • A shark can still get him in the shallows. A sandbank and a shoal are out in the midst of the water, surrounded by water. They are not the beach.
    – TimR
    May 18, 2018 at 9:40

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