In case you must swim for the drowning person, then, if possible at the moment, take with you a float of some sort for him to cling to. It takes only a small buoyant object to support a man's head above water. Cast off at least your shoes before striking out.
When you get near, shout cheerily that you will get him out all right if he does not struggle. But a drowning person is likely to get frantic, as soon as water enters his lungs, and grasp desperately at a rescuer. So be cool and wary. You must manoeuvre for position, lest he drown you both. If he sinks once or twice, little harm will be done—it may even be for the best. The first two sinkings are very slow, and he does not go down deep.
Get at him from behind, if possible. If he turns on you and tries to seize you, reach your left arm forward and push him away with your hand against his lower jaw. He may succeed in gripping your arm: in that case, turn so as to get your foot under his chest, and push him away with a powerful kick. If he should be strong enough, however, to hold you in a grip that you cannot loosen, then take a good breath and sink with him. You can stand it longer than he can; his hold will relax before your own- air gives out. The "death grip" that never loosens is common in fiction, but rarely, if ever, in fact. In the unlikely event that he should hold out longer than you consider safe, strike him in the face and break loose. This sounds brutal, but it may be the only way to save him, and yourself, too.
If the person is tractable, or has weakened until no longer dangerous, get him by the hair, or by an inside hold on the collar, and. swimming ahead of him on your back or side, tow him out. If he is naked and short-haired, then, if he is not insanely struggling, he can be rescued by approaching from behind, rolling him suddenly on his back, turning on your own back, partly under him, and drawing his head up on your chest. A child or woman, even though struggling, may be managed in this way if you seize one of the wrists and pull it behind the person's head. Then swim out on your back.
When a drowning man has sunk to the bottom, in smooth water, his exact position is shown by air bubbles that occasionally arise.
If some one has broken through the ice, and there, is no plank nor rope to be had, lie down flat on your belly and crawl out near enough to reach him a stick or toss one end of your coat to him. Then back out, still lying flat, so as to distribute your weight over as much surface as possible, and puli while he helps himself as well as he can.