There are very few non-negotiable rules in swimming. But one of the undisputed FACTS is that it’s no fun getting water up your nose. A nose full of stinging chlorine can bring even an experienced swimmer to a dead stop. For the beginner, it’s just one more reason why swimming can seem so complicated’and often downright unpleasant. Here’s a simple drill that can help you keep your nose from filling up with H2O.
Why Do It:
Rhythmic breathing is an ESSENTIAL skill for swimming. Without it, it’s nearly impossible to do an effective freestyle, butterfly, or breaststroke. Rhythmic breathing helps you stay relaxed and balanced in the water, and helps deliver all-important air to your lungs and muscles. An essential part of rhythmic breathing is learning how to close off your nose and sinuses, while you alternately open and close your mouth and airway.
How To Do It:
1. Find some waist-deep water, and stand so that your feet are at least shoulder-width apart. Bend forward slightly and rest your hands on your thighs, just above the knees. Rest your forehead and cheekbone on the water. Your mouth should be out of the water.
2. Take a normal breath of air through your MOUTH, then turn your head so that your nose and mouth are in the water and exhale the air through your NOSE. Don’t hold your breath and don’t force the air out in a big explosive exhale. Just take a normal breath in (through the mouth) and a normal breath out (through the nose).
3. When most of your air is out, turn your head to air (keeping the cheek in the water) and take in another normal breath of air through your mouth. Turn and exhale.
4. Keep inhaling and exhaling in a slow, rhythmic fashion until you feel like you could keep this up indefinitely. When you get it right, this is an extremely pleasant and relaxing drill ‘ almost hypnotic ‘ and you may find that it is impossible to STOP!
If you get water up your nose when you put your face in the water, you need to start exhaling SOONER. The trick is to start to exhale BEFORE your mouth and nose reach the water. Most swimmers do this without even realizing it or thinking about it. But this is the key to not getting water up the nose. If you wait until your mouth and nose are in the water, there’s an instant where water WILL enter the nose, and this is all it takes to make for a very unpleasant experience.
How To Do It Really Well (the Fine Points):
1. Keep your motions relaxed and rhythmic.
2. Focus on your bubbles. Try to release your air in a steady stream that bubbles up and around your cheeks and goggles and past your ears.
3. Keep your cheek in the water when you turn to breathe.
4. When you turn to exhale, look straight down and don’t let the head turn past the centerline.
5. To close off your sinuses, try humming softly, and/or putting the tip of your tongue on the roof of your mouth during the exhale.