In the beginning stages of learning how to swim competitively, many people encounter problems in and out of the pool. One of those major hurdles that swimmers have is they have a hard time focusing on their stroke or breathing properly when they have unwanted water entering their nose. Some even spend hours post-swim with irritated sinuses. The answer for both of these maladies is a simple one: nose clips.
Nose clips work by gently squeezing the nostrils together so that they stay closed and impervious to being annoyed by water penetrating them and there are quite a few reasons to wear one.
When swimming the front stroke (or freestyle), nose clips help you concentrate on breathing from the mouth when rotating your head. It’s also useful for the back stroke as it protects your nose from getting entering the nose if you’re still working on balancing your body and your head often submerges underwater. It also aids in keeping water that is shot in your face during the stroke from being thrown into your nostrils.
One argument against them is that nose clips look silly and no real accomplished swimmer uses them. As I counterargument, I give you Scott Clary, an Olympic swimmer who is often seen wearing one during his backstroke competitions.
Butterfly can also be a messy and complicated stroke when first learning. You should be focusing on your head and arm position instead of worrying about keeping water out of your nose.
For beginning swimmers, everything can be overwhelming. Eliminating one more concern helps them focus. Breathing is just another technique you can worry about mastering once everything else starts to fall into place.
It also helps swimmers learning how to master the flip turn. You can perfect the flip motion first without worrying about exhaling through the nose during the turn.
Some swimmers would ideally try to wean themselves off of the nose clip. Keeping your nose plugged can lead to several problems, including breath holding. All swimmers should be breathing through their strokes and having inhibited nostril breathing sometimes causes swimmers to hold their breath which makes them tense up and often makes strokes more erratic.
Others may want to remove the nose clip after a while because having your nose plugged means less efficient breathing. When we breathe during exercise, we usually take in air through our nose and mouth. When one of those options is taken away completely, we aren’t getting as much oxygen as we could potentially.
However, there are many experienced swimmers who find that their sinuses become impossibly irritated after swim. Some people have allergic reactions to pool chemicals and nose clips are a great solution to cut down on such an annoyance.
Nose clips are also recommended for swimmers who may have had surgery for a deviated suptum (especially in few months following surgery) as well as people who are susceptible to sinusitis.
Some open water swimmers have complained of a post swim nasal drip that will last for hours after swimming in either the pool or a lake. Others have an adverse reaction to salt water in the ocean or allergens present in lake water. For all of these maladies, a good nose clip is the best option. If you’re experiencing any of these symptoms during your extended swims—sneezing, itching, swollen sinuses—consider adding a nose clip to your swim gear.
They make such sleek and comfortable nose clips these days, there’s no longer a stigma attached should you need one. No matter your reasons to wear a nose clip, consider using one to help boost your pool performance.