Water up the nose


A number of people will have problems when kicking on their side with water coming up their nose. Others may consistently have issues with this throughout their swimming so there are three options to help

  1. Change your your head position to look down instead of to the side but you must still maintain the rotation to the side. 
  2. Learn how to block the nose - so read the article below
  3. Use a nose clip as this can help stop water coming up the nose (these are available during your swim lesson from Boost Coaching)

So, how do you control the air and water in your nose?

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 breaths from your nose breaths properly, so you do end up taking a breath with both the nose and mouth at the same time 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. Simple? Yes, actually it is. With a few straight forward 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 checkout 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. 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 under water. 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 with 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 under water for 5 seconds, then come up, take a quick breath (only through your mouth while holding the "K" 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 under water, move onto the basic swimming while repeating the tongue exercises in your head. After a while you will start plugging the nose with your soft palate automatically without even thinking about it. 

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. Feel free to also try thehuman nose clip technique described in my next post. 

Last Resort

If you have tried many times to get rid off 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 exists a very small scuba mask which very closely resembles similar type swim goggles. The Dacor Bandit scuba mask has a very low profile and works very well as a last resort solution. 

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