Going Underwater

Boost your swimming confidence

Does the thought of going underwater completely freak you out?  Your heart rate starts to rise as the doubts and fears creep into your head.  You know deep down that you have to get over this if you're going to overcome your fear of swimming and increase your swimming confidence. 

Fear not.  Work through the 3 steps detailed here and your confidence will sky-rocket. 

three steps to going underwater for beginners

The more relaxed you are in the water, the less oxygen is used by our body and then the length of time spent underwater increases. 

The ability to submerge the face is arguably one of the most important stages when learning to swim, particularly when overcoming a fear of water.  

Some beginners arrive with this ability built in and only need to be taught how to breathe whilst swimming.  For others it will be one of the most terrifying tasks you face.

Three Stages To Going Underwater


There are 3 key steps to work through to become confident with going underwater.  These are crucial for beginners or those with a fear of swimming.  Others will find them easy. The 3 steps are:

  1. Getting the face wet
  2. Taking a breath and partially submerging
  3. Total submersion underwater

It goes without saying that a gradual approach is needed here.  One stage at a time and only when you are happy and confident do you proceed to the next stage.

Stage 1:  Getting the face wet

Remember, getting the face wet and being splashed in the face are two completely different concepts, each having different effects, and not always positive ones.  Here are a few  practices to work through:

  • Blowing bubbles on the water surface or blowing an object along as you swim.  You can either blow gently "like blowing through a straw" or blow with force "like blowing out candles on a cake".
blowing water to get the face wet helps increase swimming confidence
  • Cupping water in your own hands and throwing it onto your face.  Remember to hold your breath as you do, so as not to get water up your nose. 
getting your face wet helps to increase swimming confidence
  • Throwing and catching a ball is an excellent distraction from the splashes of the water.  If the ball is made to land just in front of you, this will result in a wet face without too much concern due to the distraction of catching the ball.  The smallest of splashes from the softest of throws will be sufficient to have a positive effect.

Stage 2:  Partially submerging the face

For the next stage of mastering going underwater, you need to learn how to hold your breath by "breathing in and holding it all in".  Some will be able to do this easily, others will learn by trial and error as you partially submerge your face and realise you are not able to breath underwater! 

An object can then be placed just under the water surface, shallow enough to see and reach for it, but deep enough for the mouth to be submerged in order to reach it.  Once confidence is gained with this exercise, then the object can be lowered slightly to encourage the mouth and nose to be submerged.

These practices are best performed with an assistant in the water holding the object for you.  This may also help enhance your confidence with someone in the water with you.

Stage 3: Total Submersion and Swimming Underwater

Stage 2 naturally leads quickly onto stage 3 where the object is placed below the water surface where you are encouraged to retrieve it by completely submerging your head underwater.  By this stage, breath holding should be more accomplished and you should begin to relax more as you submerge. Eventually swimming underwater becomes a natural progression.

Progression from this stage is to incorporate face submerging, either partially or completely, whilst swimming various strokes and even retrieving objects from the pool floor during lengths or widths.  

three stages of going underwater that conquer fear of swimming

Now it's time to give your confidence a REAL boost...

All of the above stages assist hugely with the process of increasing swimming confidence and overcoming a fear of swimming.  Understanding how well you float, how to glide and how and when to breathe are crucial steps too.  Find all of these in my massively popular book 'The Complete Beginners Guide to Swimming'.  

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