Swimming (泳ぎ, Swimming) is an action in Super Smash Bros. Brawl, Super Smash Bros. for Wii U, and Super Smash Bros. Ultimate that gives a player mobility in water. Swimming generally has two animations: a normal floating animation (or Swim internally) and a more panicked "drowning" animation (SwimDrown). A player that enters water will float for a while, enter the drowning animation, and eventually sink (SwimDrownOut). Swim time is determined by damage; the character is irrelevant.
In Super Smash Bros. Melee and Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS, there is no swimming mechanic; instead, characters simply fall through water. In the original Super Smash Bros., there is simply no water to facilitate a swimming mechanic.
In Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, players with a "swimmer" effect spirit can swim indefinitely without drowning and swimming time is reduced in spirit battles with a "Buoyancy Reduced" rule often accompanied with a "You can't swim" or a "Nobody knows how to swim" condition.
The time for which players can continue to swim is determined by how much damage has been received: the more damage accumulated, the less time the character can stay afloat before drowning. Drowning causes the character to sink through the water while immobile and be KO'd. It cannot be stopped once started. All characters have the same base swim time and can drown, regardless of swimming ability or underwater survivability in their own games. However, characters like Squirtle swim much faster than characters such as Sonic.
Characters can swim for a maximum of four seconds, after which they can remain afloat floundering for an additional 2.5 seconds, when they will enter a "panicking" animation. The 4-second clock is shorter for higher-damaged characters, at a rate of 1 second for each 24% damage. As a result, characters at 96% damage or higher will enter the flailing state immediately upon surfacing. The swim time in the SSE can be increased by using stickers. In Ultimate, equipping any Spirit with the "Swimmer" ability sets swim time to infinite, allowing characters to stay in water for as long as they like.
Swim times are only reset by landing on dry land; simply jumping out of the water momentarily will not give the player any extra time (although it will stall the amount of time). However, it does reset it to the "panic" stage. The player can continue jumping out of and back into the water infinitely and never drown, provided they don't wait over the normal panic limit. Even characters at very high damage have 2.5 seconds before drowning to jump, making it difficult to forcibly drown an opponent.
Apart from moving, characters can only jump when swimming, which mostly acts as their ground jump.
Interestingly, swimming times are unaffected by transformations; a metal character can swim just as long as a normal character. That said, a metal character will sink further before surfacing. (This trick is used once in the Subspace Emissary in a secret room.)
Only Olimar's Blue Pikmin can swim, and the rest will drown after a few seconds (Brawl) or about a second (Wii U, Ultimate) in deep water if not called back. Red Pikmin die immediately.
If a character is trapped in an egg, they can sink to the bottom and be KO'd if they don't break out in time.
In Ultimate, certain characters with a weakness to water will take a small amount of damage (about 0.3% per 20 frames, stopping at 300%) while swimming. This includes Charizard, Sonic, Inkling, and Incineroar.
Some stages, such as Delfino Plaza, contain areas of shallow water. If a character is tall enough to stand in this water, they will move normally when they enter it. They cannot swim or drown, and they will not take damage from the water. If the character is too short to stand, they will swim.
A character’s ability to stand in shallow water is determined when they enter the water. It is also affected by size changes, such as those triggered by certain powerups. If a character changes size while swimming or standing in shallow water, they will continue to swim or stand respectively until they leave and re-enter the water.
In some cases, a character can skip the swimming animation and go underwater. The swim timer does not take effect in this state.
- A character hit downwards towards water by a meteor smash may be KO'd outright if their downwards speed is too fast for them to swim to the surface. A character may only move from side to side while underwater, allowing for easily chained meteor smashes against a character who has fallen in.
- If Wario is riding his bike, he will fall right through the water. Letting go of the bike will cause him to swim and his bike to sink.
- Characters using Final Smashes (including some transformations such as Giga Bowser) will fall through water and be KO'd. The exception is Mr. Game & Watch's Final Smash, Octopus, which allows him to float permanently on top of the water and be unaffected by currents during the entirety of Octopus, including those on Jungle Japes.
- In Brawl and Smash 4, if a character is using a longer tether recovery, they will pass through the water as if it's not there until the character stops grabbing the edge. In Ultimate, the tether will break and the character will begin swimming when they touch the water.
- In the Subspace Emissary, if Player 2 sinks directly through the water after they panic, this will trigger an automatic Space Jump.
- If a character with a stall-then-fall down aerial short hops out of water, then immediately uses the said attack, they will fall a great distance before coming afloat, allowing water stalling. This also works with Pikachu's Quick Attack. This works because if the character jumps low enough, they will be considered to be at the top of the water, so the character will fall for 1 or 2 frames, coast down for any amount of time (depending on the velocity of the attack), and come back up.
- If any character is KO'd in Stamina Mode and enters water, they will tumble straight through the water.
Stages that support swimming
Super Smash Bros. Brawl
- Delfino Plaza (at certain stops, only for shorter characters at some stops)
- Summit (going in the water will trigger the fish to attack near immediately, making it highly dangerous to touch the water)
- Pirate Ship (while mostly safe, the screen slowly scrolls to the left at all times except when the ship is being lifted by the tornado (which temporarily removes the water from the stage), causing characters in the water to slowly drift towards the right blast zone; furthermore, touching the front of the boat will inflict the player with an OHKOing meteor smash)
- Jungle Japes (a swift current will rapidly take submerged players off-screen to the left, giving players very little time to be in the water)
- In some stages in the Subspace Emissary (such as The Ruined Zoo), characters can swim longer than usual. Enemies, as they cannot swim, simply fall through the water and die. Oddly, floating and flying enemies die immediately on contact with swimmable water, a behavior shared with the Kirby series.
Hanenbow has water above its bottom blast line, but swimming in it is not possible; characters will just fall through it. Also in Corneria, the Great Fox's wings may go on water, but swimming in it still isn't possible.
Super Smash Bros. for Wii U
- Delfino Plaza
- Pirate Ship
- Wuhu Island (at certain stops; the water can also be entered while the speedboat is moving, but like in Jungle Japes, players will be swept away due to the speed)
- Midgar (when Leviathan is summoned)
Pac-Land has water in one area, but swimming is not possible in the water on this stage. As one tip says: "Unlike in other stages, you can't float at all in the water here. You'll fall through it like it's not even there, so be careful not to belly flop to a KO!"
Super Smash Bros. Ultimate
Returning stages which allow swimming for the first time in the series:
Returning stages which have allowed swimming before:
Also returning are Princess Peach's Castle, Corneria, Hanenbow, Balloon Fight, Paper Mario, and Pac-Land, which feature non-swimmable water above the bottom blast line.
Additionally, some characters now take damage just by swimming in water. These characters are:
- Drowning characters cannot be stopped during their final descent, and will even sink through solid objects. For example, it is possible for a player to drown and pass through the platforms that pick up the fighters when Wuhu Island is transitioning.
- In fact, there is a short window just before a fighter transitions from their drowning animation to their drowning descent where they can be knocked out of the water by a windbox without interrupting the drown, and will fall through any solid objects above water as well. Since fighters are intangible during this state as well, as soon as the fighter starts sinking, it is impossible to save them.
- When a character is underwater, their drowning timer will not decrease. As a result, if a character can stay underwater (such as by diving underneath a hard platform that prevents a character under it from surfacing), they can stay submerged in water indefinitely. Hiding underneath the back of the Pirate Ship in Brawl in this way is known as "rudder stalling", and while it can only last until the cyclone reappears, it was strong enough to be a major factor in banning the stage in almost all rulesets, although this is no longer possible from Smash 4 onwards.
- Humorously, in Super Smash Bros. for Wii U, Pac-Man does not change to his "surprised" expression when drowning, and instead remains in his default smile. This was changed for Ultimate.
- Several characters who are unable to swim in their home series can swim in the Super Smash Bros. series. Up until Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, Charizard and Sonic had no penalties for touching water or swimming; however, all the listed characters now take constant damage when swimming in said game. All those listed also have a panicking animation once swimming, though once they start to drown they'll be panicking even more.
- Charizard and Incineroar are Fire-type Pokémon and are thus weak to Water-type moves. However, on multiple occasions in Pokémon media, Charizard have been shown to be capable of swimming and keeping their tail lit even when underwater.
- Sonic cannot swim in his own series (except in Sonic Colors, in which he can double jump infinitely in water, and in the Mario & Sonic in the Olympic Games series, he wears waterwings to compete in aquatic events), but he can in his Smash Bros. appearances. However, he is notably more frantic than other characters when he enters his drowning animation, and in Ultimate, his swimming animation is similar to his drowning animation, albeit slowed down and a differing expression.
- Inklings cannot swim in their own series due to having bodies consisting mostly of ink, which would cause them to dissolve and die upon contact with water. This phenomenon does not happen in Ultimate, instead taking gradual damage. A similar situation occurs in the Inklings' playable appearance in Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, where they were able to drive underwater without any negative effect, which goes unexplained in universe logic.
- In Minecraft, an Enderman cannot swim and takes damage when in contact with water, and a submerged Zombie turns into a Drowned starting with a 2018 update. Neither of these behaviors occur in Ultimate due to both characters being alternate costumes for Steve, who swims normally.