The efficient movement of our bodies in the water while swimming, does not come naturally to the majority of our water filled planet's population. Putting our faces in the water and having fun around and in our local pools, lakes, oceans, seas or rivers is, however, as common as your favorite bread.
Though a very common skill such as holding your breath underwater is easy to master, many unlucky individuals never get the hang of it and are not able to put their head/face under water without holding their nose or using a nose plug.
Is this you? If so, I urge you to continue reading. You will not regret it.
There are a few reasons why these unfortunate folks (meaning you) never grasp this easy to learn skill of not having to plug your nose when you go underwater.
I am going to venture out and say that the number one reason is that nobody has taken the time to properly explain to you how to do this and thus subjecting you to a life full of water up your nose.
A very uncomfortable feeling indeed.
Many instructors do not spend the time to explain why the water goes up the nose and what are the correct exercises to prevent it. They just simply suggest wearing a nose plug or plugging your nose.
None of these are actual solutions to the problem. They are just small bandaids.
Try learning how to swim freestyle while holding your nose. That is an impossible feat and plain silly if you ask me.
Don’t take me wrong, I don’t have a problem with wearing a nose plug, on the contrary, for example, I recommend my swimmers to wear nose plugs during competitions for their backstroke swims. This way they don’t lose air out of their lungs while doing their underwater kick.
Nonetheless, I also don’t like to see and do unnecessary things and wearing a nose plug for a front style swimming stroke such as freestyle or breaststroke is definitely not necessary.
First, let’s look at the problem. If you are one of the unlucky individuals, the issue at hand is that you are not able to plug your nasal passage and thus the difference in pressure outside in the water and inside your body is forcing the water to go up your nose (there is really nothing to stop it).
Furthermore, when you then manage to get your head out of the water and try to take a breath, you do not isolate mouth breathing from your nose breathing properly. So you do end up taking a breath with both your nose and your mouth simultaneously which causes even more discomfort since your nose is already partially filled with water.
Don’t despair though, there is always hope.
To plug your nasal air passage you will have to use a small muscular area, located at the back of your throat, called the soft palate (Velum).
When the soft palate is closed, it separates your nasal cavity from your oral cavity, so air only flows through your mouth.
Yes, actually it is.
With a few straightforward exercises you will be able to close the nose like everybody else.
As a first step, to feel the soft palate, you should practice pronouncing, so called velar consonants. In the English language, they would be for example the "ng" ending of the word "swimming".
Notice where the back of the tongue touches? That is your soft palate. Feel free to use a mirror to check out what is happening in your mouth.
Now, you know where your soft palate is, so let’s close the nasal passage with the help of so-called stop consonants.
There are 2 sets of these consonants, depending on where you want your air to flow. The "T", "P", "K" and similar type consonants are so-called oral stops and "M", "N" consonants are nasal stops.
Now your turn. Try it!
If you say the word "swim" and pause at the "M" letter, your soft palate is in the position where air can be exhaled from your nose and not your mouth.
On the other hand, and this is more interesting for swimming and plugging your nose, if you say the word "kick" and stop your tongue from finishing the word at the first letter "K", you will notice that you can softly exhale out of your mouth, but not your nose. Hence, your nasal tract is closed and no water (when submerged) can get in.
And there you have it. No more water up your nose when going underwater.
I’d suggest for you to practice the different consonants and the tongue positions out of the water. And when you are ready, get into the shallow end where you can stand and start dipping your head in while holding the "K", "T", or "P" oral stop consonants, so your nasal passage closes.
When this becomes easy. Add a slow bobbing rhythm, so you go down underwater for 5 seconds, then come up, take a quick breath (only through your mouth while holding the "Kay" consonant) and back down for 5 seconds. Like you’d be a buoy on the water going rhythmically up and down.
After you no longer have to hold your nose when you go underwater, move onto basic swimming while repeating the tongue exercises in your head.
You will start plugging the nose with your soft palate automatically without even thinking about it in no time.
Remember, be patient as these exercises might take days and for some even weeks to master, but if you prevail, I am confident that you will succeed.
As an advanced step, feel free to also try the human nose clip technique described in my next post.
If you have tried many times to get rid of the water in your nose during swimming and even the above mentioned soft palate consonant technique does not work for you, perhaps, before you go the nose plug route, you could opt into a small mask which actually covers your nose as well as your eyes. This way, there is no danger of water ever getting into your nose.
I am not suggesting you wear a regular scuba mask for swimming, but there exist larger type goggle masks which very closely resembles a small scuba mask.
Did you manage to get rid off the water up your nose problem or found some other technique that works best for you? Don't hesitate to share with me your experience and please join me for more tips like these by