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How to swim in Animal Crossing: New Horizons

The Animal Crossing: New Horizons summer update released in 2020 introduced a host of new content. Players interacted with a new non-player character (NPC), saw new recipes for a bunch of summertime furniture, and — most importantly — could finally swim out into the water!

There’s a lot of stuff lurking out in the ocean, but thankfully, Nintendo made it easy to safely navigate the waters surrounding your island. Here’s everything you need to know about swimming in Animal Crossing: New Horizons.

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Gather the proper equipment

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You head to the beach in your coolest outfit ever and suddenly realize you can’t walk out into the water. Uh, you said we can swim now, right? Yes, but you need a wetsuit first.

To get one, head on over to Nook’s Cranny and look in the cabinet that usually holds plants, tools, and wallpaper. You’ll see a randomly selected wetsuit design. Purchase one of these — our horizontal stripes wetsuit cost 3,000 bells — and put it on to enable your swimming ability.

You also have the option of wearing a snorkel. It won’t make you swim faster, stay underwater longer, or blow colorful bubbles (that’d be cool though, right?). Instead, it’s nothing more than a fashion statement. The wetsuit, however, is mandatory.

You can also get a unique Nook-branded wetsuit by visiting the Nook Shop in Residential Services. Select Redeem Nook Miles and purchase it for 800 Nook Miles. The snorkel costs an additional 500 Nook Miles.

Go jump in the water

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While swimming is a much-needed dynamic to make the island feel less isolated, you can’t swim to other islands. In fact, you’ll see a rope net surrounding the entire island, mostly submerged just a ways offshore, limiting to how far out you can actually swim.

On the flip side, you can swim around the entire island (without getting tired no less) and reach places you couldn’t otherwise visit without terraforming. But ultimately the only way to visit another island is to catch a plane, not with a mask and snorkel. Your limited waterfront access grants you enough room to fill the Critterpedia, and that’s it.

Once you’ve slipped into your wetsuit, head down to the nearest beach and stand at the water’s edge. Here’s how to jump in and swim:

Step 1: Press the A button on your controller to enter the water.

Step 2: Keep tapping or holding down the A button to start swimming. If you don’t press the button, you can still slowly dog-paddle around by moving the left thumbstick.

Step 3: To get out of the water, just steer your islander towards the shore. The islander will automatically wade out when close enough.

Diving underwater

Of course, before you leave the water, you’ll probably want to take advantage of the new diving mechanic.

Step 1: While swimming, press the Y button to dive underwater.

Step 2: While underwater, press the A button and steer with the Left thumbstick to swim underwater. You’ll typically use this when chasing elusive fish.

Step 3: Press the Y button again to resurface.

The islander can only stay submerged for ten seconds once you press the Y button, but there’s no limit to the number of times you can dive before needing to exit the water and take a break (unlike real people).

Look for sea creatures

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Swimming and diving are fun diversions on their own, but New Horizons has also introduced a brand new page of the Critterpedia for players to uncover in the form of sea creatures. These can only be found out in the ocean, and players must dive underwater to find them.

Jon Bitner / Digital Trends

As you swim, you’ll see plenty of sea creatures approaching without actually seeing which creatures they are. You’ll know they’re near when you see an accumulation of bubbles dotting the water’s surface, at which time you can submerge and enter the underwater world. The camera will shift to a more vertical position, allowing you to see a shadow underwater. Position your islander on top of this dark spot, and they’ll nab the unknown object, subjecting you to a whole new set of puns.

To catch fish, you’ll have to act quickly, plunging into the deep blue waters after these elusive Sea Butterflies to snatch them up while they’re still within reach.

Donating sea creatures to the museum

Unlike the update that introduced Redd and the Art Exhibit, sea creatures don’t have a new wing in the museum. They will join the current collection of fish that already has an installation in the museum. Bring your first sea creature to Blathers, and he will promptly display it with all your other catches.

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Jon Bitner
Jon Bitner is a freelance journalist whose gaming addiction began with the SEGA Genesis. His work has been published on…
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