Are you an adult beginner swimmer? One of the first things you’ll need to adjust to when starting out in the pool is submersion, or how to properly hold your breath underwater.
This can be the most daunting step in learning to swim. There are many pitfalls common to beginners when they first try to get their faces or heads under the water. For some, it’s a matter of properly timing the inhale, holding the breath, and the exhale. Others struggle to maintain enough pressure when they go under, which leads to water entering the mouth or nose.
Panic is a common reaction for some when the water touches their ears or the tip of their nose. Finally, some beginners stay under too long at the outset, leading the body to reflexively inhale and take in water. This can cause panic, and even deter some from wanting to try again.
Do any of these sound familiar? If they do, don’t be deterred! These are the simple steps you should take when learning to bring your head under the water:
Take a regular breath
With your feet planted firmly on the bottom of the pool, consciously take a regular breath – not too big and not too small. Maintain pressure behind your nose – you can simulate this at first by puffing out your cheeks if you’re having a hard time.
Bend your knees to bring your face (or whole head if you’re comfortable) under the water. Keep your motions controlled and stay calm. You don’t need to stay under for too long.
Come up, then exhale
Bring your head up out of the water. Once your feet are flat on the ground, then you can exhale. Maintaining this conscious control of your exhale and stance is important in making sure you’re confident in your breath control.
Clear your mouth and nose
This might sound gross at first, but it’s common for swimmers to clear their mouth or nose in the pool. Whether this means gently blowing your nose or spitting, it’s ok. Do what you need to do to feel comfortable coming up out of the water.
As you practice these steps, there are a few things you should bear in mind. First off, know that when you go into the water, it will exert pressure on your body. This is normal. While you’re learning, just know that you have the power to counteract this force when you go under the water. (And if this is something you really struggle with, check out our tips on overcoming your fear of the water. We discuss this more here.)
Many people are also scared they’re going to run out of air. But think about how long you can hold your breath when above water! This shouldn’t be something to worry about, especially when you’re just starting. And sometimes, air will escape. This is common, and shouldn’t effect your breath control.
If this is still overwhelming, that’s totally fine. You can practice the process of inhaling, holding your breath and maintaining pressure, then exhaling, all without submerging your face or head. Just go through these motions with your head above water until you’re comfortable with them.
Check out our Youtube video with the lovely Melissa demonstrating tips on how to hold your breath properly for submersion:
Still have a question? Find us on Facebook or Twitter! If you’re an adult working on getting your head into the water, hashtag #AquaLifeBeginner so we can check out your progress. Good luck!