Can't swim without holding my nose... Help me!

Hello! I have a fear of swimming without holding my nose! I have tried swimming without holding my nose before, but I choked. Please don't laugh. It sounds so weird and stupid and hilarious, but it's true. I need help. I have tried EVERYTHING! Friend's advice and family advice, websites, books, everything. I need help. Thanks.

Thanks for getting in touch. Your problem is not uncommon at all.

Forgive me if you think I might be stating the obvious. It would help if you practice holding your breath underwater.

You choke because water is getting up your nose as you submerge your face and swim, and the only reason water goes up your nose is that you are breathing it up there.

It is most likely that you are doing this unconsciously – in other words, you are not consciously holding your breath; instead, your body is attempting to breathe through your nose when you swim without you telling it to!

Firstly take some time to practice holding your breath and submerging. Not swimming at all, but remaining in one place in the pool, feet on the floor if necessary.

If fully submerging is still causing a problem, then remain at the surface, place your mouth and/or nose in the water, and work up to fully submerging gradually.

The important thing here is to take a big enough breath to allow you to hold it for a few seconds. So, take a large breath, as if you’re about to blow out the candles on a cake, and hold it all in.

Now, this may sound like baby stuff, and you may be more than able to do this stuff. If so, forgive me, but it is important to ensure you can do it.

Let's say you can easily hold your breath and submerge. The problem is that swimming (kicking your legs and pulling with your arms) causes you to exhale and inhale simultaneously.

This is a question of coordination. Most people associate coordination with making your arms do something simultaneously with your legs. In your case (and this is only a possible suggestion), it is the coordination of your breathing and overall movement.

You need to teach your body to hold your breath and swim simultaneously. When you need to breathe again, you need to surface to take another breath.

This goes back to remaining in one place in the pool and practising just breathing. Submerge and move your arms and legs slowly, keeping your breath held. Resurface and take another breath.

Keep practising until it becomes second nature.

My ebook The Complete Beginners Guide To Swimming contains all the help and support you need, from relaxing, floating and breathing to all the technique tips for learning to swim the four basic strokes. Click the link below for more information.

The Complete Beginners Guide To Swimming


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