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Your Underwater Questions

Should we challenge our teams with underwater swimming?

Yes, possibly, at least the fit ones. You must warn your swimmers about pressure on the ears and the danger of hyperventilation. Monitor them while they swim underwater, otherwise you run the risk of suffering irreversible consequences.

Although the dangers of breath holding have been known for many years, education efforts have been spotty.

Training materials from the American Red Cross and the YMCA mention the dangers of breath holding, but many facilities still lack the appropriate sign posts.

Among the public there is very little awareness of the dangers of hyperventilation before breath holding.

Also be mindful of your ears. Balance out the pressure. Don't swim with a blocked nose.

How do I swim underwater?

Only do this under lifeguard supervision. Make sure your lifeguards know what you are doing and are ready to assist. They should dress warm, as they may not move about in the water as much as you do.

If the water is cold, get wet slowly to avoid sudden shock. The first few minutes might be a bit of a challenge as the water seeps in and soaks your clothes, but soon the water inside your clothes warms up a little.

  1. Swim underwater with a calm stroke and a calm mind. Your clothes will slow you down, so don't expect to race across to the far side of the pool.

  2. Exhale as much of the air in your lungs as possible, and then inhale as much as possible.

  3. Slide beneath the surface of the water, holding your breath. Watch out for any air pockets in your clothes.

  4. Push off hard and streamline your body, with your legs together and your arms extended above your head. Point your toes and try to push your shoulders up to your ears.

  5. Pull your knees up towards your chest, kick out with legs apart, and then squeeze your legs together. This is the same as the breaststroke kick.

  6. Turn your palms outward and pull your arms all the way down to your sides. Bend your arms and cup your hands to push as much water back as you can with your pull. This motion is done at the same time as your kick.

  7. Glide as far as possible in your streamline position.

  8. As your legs begin to pull up for your next kick, put your hands together and extend your arms for your next pull.

  9. Relax and try not to concentrate on the time or distance spent underwater. When you need a breath of air, return to the surface.

How Do I Keep Water Out of My Nose?

It is very hard to do anything underwater while holding your nose. You can't do handstands correctly, flip easily, or do competitive swimming strokes.
  1. When you get in the pool, stand by the edge. Slowly dunk your head under the water while blowing out of your nose.

  2. Repeat that step until you feel comfortable going under water.

  3. Go under the water again, and push off the wall. Remember to keep blowing air out of your nose. If you get water up your nose, then repeat steps 2 and 3 again.

  4. When swimming horizontally, keep your head facing down to the bottom of your pool.
With time, when you swim faster, water going up your nose will be less of a problem. It is really at slower speeds this is an issue. If you can swim a lap without getting water up your nose, then you have achieved your goal!

Your body has certain, natural reactions to water that take time to adapt to correctly. Breathing so that water doesn't go up your nose will happen, but it may take a while.

Practice blowing air through your nose slower, and slower. Until, instead of a steady stream of bubbles you have just enough air pressure in your nose to prevent water from going in. Be patient.

Which clothes are best for Underwater Swimming?

Dress up warm in sportswear or casual clothes with a hood. You lose more heat underwater, mainly from your head (ca. 30%) so wear a hooded garment. The longer you stay under water, the more important proper dress becomes. We prefer an outfit like this:

  1. T-shirt
  2. Shorts or running tights
  3. Long trousers or jeans
  4. Warm turtleneck pullover
  5. Tracksuit top, hoodie, or anorak with hood

These clothes are both warm and comfortable in the water, but may slow you down a bit as the hoodie soaks up a lot of water, the tracksuit and anorak less so. Wear all clothes first in the bathtub to make sure it all fits well when wet, before you wear it in the pool for training.