Swimming underwater is a skill that is best achieved with relaxation. Breath holding exercises and submerging exercises are a good starting point 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.
For a detailed look at all key aspects of learning to swim, download The Complete Beginners Guide To Swimming.
There are 3 key steps to work through to become confident with submerging underwater. These are crucial for beginners or those with a fear of water. Others will find them easy. The 3 steps are:
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.
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".
Cupping water in your own hands and throwing it onto your face.
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.
The next stage of mastering swimming 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 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.
All of the above stages assist hugely with the process of learning how to swim underwater. Understanding your own buoyancy is important as this can be a crucial factor that can dictate how easy underwater swimming will be. If your body has good buoyancy, then submerging underwater and swimming is more difficult, although not impossible.
For more details on this and all other aspects of learning how to swim, download The Complete Guide To Simple Swimming.