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Learning to swim properly but hate water on my face, can anyone help?

(19 Posts)
ItsGoingSwimminglyThanks Sun 05-Aug-18 22:42:33

Can anyone give me tips to overcome this?

I hate being out of depth. I swim like I'm being chased by a shark and run out of puff quickly, but I have never learned to breath properly.

I took lessons 10 years ago but couldn't get past the homework practice of submerging my mouth and blowing bubbles over my nose. So I stopped and the class progressed but I got left behind, so I never went back again.

But I really want to crack this. Someone told me yesterday that I have to breath out slowly and then every 3rd stroke come up for air, but I can see myself choking and spluttering and panicking as I grab for the side rail.

I feel like such a muppet but I really want to nail this. Any helpful suggestions?

ItsGoingSwimminglyThanks Mon 06-Aug-18 17:30:02


feelingbloo Mon 06-Aug-18 17:37:53

I think it's going to take gentle exposure

Sit in the shallow end and practice gently placing your face underwater, increase the seconds as you go along:

Good luck.

AfterSchoolWorry Mon 06-Aug-18 17:41:44

I'm the same OP. I can't do that breathing out underwater thing either. As for supposedly being able to take a breath when you turn your face to the side. Nah. All I get is a sinus full of water. I just don't think it works for some people.

rainbowstardrops Mon 06-Aug-18 17:42:38

Watching with interest as I had lessons as a young child but hated it and still can't swim.
Going to a holiday cottage with a pool soon and wondering if you can learn to swim without putting your head under the water?!!!

ImSoExhausted Mon 06-Aug-18 17:46:36

What about breast stroke instead of front crawl? It's a slower paced swim with a breath every stroke. Your head goes under, your legs kick lick a frog (quite literally) and your arms come together at your chest, then push out and down to push your head back out the water. There's loads of YouTube tutorials on it and it's what most people do when they're swimming lengths as it's more sustainable energy wise smile

ImSoExhausted Mon 06-Aug-18 17:47:28

Oh! And get goggles and a nose clip!

Wildernesstips Mon 06-Aug-18 19:53:22

So glad you have posted this. I am exactly the same - almost have a panic attack if out of my depth and would love to actually be able to swim properly.

Ilikesweetpeas Mon 06-Aug-18 19:58:17

This is me too, I can't bear the water going up my nose which means it's hard to swim properly!

AmICrazyorWhat2 Mon 06-Aug-18 20:20:19

I had swimming lessons four years ago and went from barely being able to do two lengths to swimming a mile.

Here are my tips:

1. A really good pair of goggles is essential so the water doesn't bother your eyes at all. If you swim regularly, they'll need replacing every few weeks.

2. Focus on your form, rather than your breathing. Just know that you need to take a breath every third stroke and let it out under the water. Instead, I concentrate on stretching my body out as far as I can and being as flat as possible in the water. If you're in the correct position, the breathing gets easier.

3. Focus on a goal, not the depth. I think of my arms slicing through the water and propelling me to the other side. Just focus on using those powerful arms and legs to get you there, not the depth.

I'll try to think of more tips. It's worth keeping at it, I love the fact that I can swim well now, although I still hate diving and I can't do that flip thing that racing swimmers do to turn themselves around. I need to find out how to do that!

TheLastSaola Mon 06-Aug-18 20:33:59

There are some cheats, if putting your face in the water is putting you off.

Aim to learn what is often called (unpleasantly) “old lady breast stroke”. This is breast stroke where you keep your head out of the water, so just focus on floating, pulling the water with your arms and pushing back with your legs. It’s slow, but is much more comfortable if you’re put off by putting your head down.

Goggles will take care of water in eyes.

I’d personally not worry about blowing bubbles under water.

Even when you progress to putting your head down a bit, you can go a long way in swimming by just holding your breath, and then doing the out and in breaths with your head mostly out of the water. It’ll slow your stroke rate down, but it’s a good start.

Don’t worry about breathing every 3 strokes, every stroke is fine.

For a child, it’s worth spending time getting the basics right, but for an adult that has anxiety, just get in the water and see if you can move about. Even doggy paddle is a step up. You’re not trying to qualify for the Olympics, just to move about a the pool without stressing.

ItsGoingSwimminglyThanks Tue 07-Aug-18 16:50:41

Firstly, glad I am not alone!

Secondly, thanks for the tips, that was just what I was after.

Gizlotsmum Tue 07-Aug-18 16:55:46

I got recommended to practise in the bath or sink and just submerge your face and slow release of breath to blow bubbles

FinallyHere Tue 07-Aug-18 16:58:37

I loved swimming but didn't really feel confident about putting my face into the water til i had some lessons with these lovely people I had one with Steven himself and did a course with a lovely lady down in Devon. Brilliant.

BertieBotts Tue 07-Aug-18 17:03:19

I found this link on MN a few years ago and have saved it ever since but not actually got around to doing it yet blush

I did a few of them and the steps seem really reasonable.

I wouldn't have really thought of my swimming difficulties as being a fear of water but the link does seem to fit.

AppleKatie Tue 07-Aug-18 17:05:01

I think it’s a confidence issue- you are panicking that you can’t float so thrashing to prevent drowning, this in turn is leading to water up nose etc... and so it goes on.

So start with learning to float. Go at quiet times, sit about in the shallow end - get used to the feel of the water and gradually teach yourself to float on your back. Don’t worry about your face at all.

Once you are relaxed enough to know that you can just roll over and float on your back whenever you like you’ll be less bothered about making mistakes when trying to do strokes and the other issues should go away with patience and time.

whathaveiforgottentoday Tue 07-Aug-18 18:14:09

I agree with previous posters that 'old lady breaststroke' and backstroke or just sculling on your back are the best strokes if you don't like water in your face.
Learning to float calmly on your back is really useful as this is what they recommend when you lose your breath such as when people jump in cold water and get a shock (gives you a chance to calm down and get your breath back). Breathing correctly doing front crawl is more difficult to master.

DrPeppersPhD Tue 07-Aug-18 18:27:44

Stupid question, when you turn your head to breathe are you breathing through your mouth? That way you don't suck half the pool through your nose (been there, done that).
Try sitting in the shallow end and putting half your face in the water (mouth and nose but not eyes) breathe out and count to three, then come up for three, rinse and repeat, that's how I learnt when I was 11 and it was good because you were underwater but it didn't feel like you had your face underwater.

AmICrazyorWhat2 Sat 11-Aug-18 21:03:05

I breathe in through my mouth and blow it out underwater.

Personally, I don't like the "old lady" breaststroke as it bothers my neck keeping my head up out of the water. I find it easier to breathe out underwater and know that I'm coming up in a second for another breath. As PP said, breaststroke is much less intense than front crawl breathing and a good one to start with.

I went lap swimming yesterday (for the first time in three months 'cos I'm lazy blush) and also realised that I focus on the lane separators (those lines painted on the bottom of the pool to separate lanes) to relax.

I'm less inclined to thrash about or think too much about breathing, when I'm focusing intently on that line. I just follow it!

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