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whoiscathy 11-19-2017 01:20 PM

Trickle exhalation and nose problems
Hi good people. Very, very new TI student here. So new I've had 2 one-on-one classes and before that I'd never attempted crawl, not as a child and not as an adult - I'm 40 :)

I have a problem I've googled and tried to solve in the pool for some 2 weeks now. No definite answer yet.

Whenever my face is in the water I get water in my nose unless I exhale forcefully. It goes into, what I perceive, my brain. It hurts :) Also I "drink" half the pool every time, meaning, the water goes up my nose and into my stomach unless I force myself to exhale strongly at all times my face is in the water. But if I do that it affects my buoyancy as I understood:

There seems to be no trickle valve on my nose. So I either get the water in and suffer, or I sink, these appear to be my options. It's a major hindrance to the extent that I can't see at the moment how I'll ever get to coordinated movements, like arm strokes because by the time I'd get there I have water in my brain and stomach. I used to have so much in my stomach after 1 hour in the pool that I'd puke the rest of the day. also, I know I'll inhale through my mouth - if and when I get there - but for now I want to spit and cough halfway into the lap... No way I'll be able to inhale properly like this.


Things I've tried: (1) just sink underwater on the shallow end and exhale while sitting on the bottom, and try to exhale slowly. No go. Big bubbles in a constant stream. Can't seem to be able to regulate it. I keep doing this before every pool session but I haven't made any progress. (2) Ignore the problem and just do the forceful exhalation, but the result was that my coach said that my first time excellent SG turned into worse by the second time we met because I was so much sinking more. (3) I dug up this link I tried the tricks in this article but I couldn't get them work for me either. Maybe just too much information for my tiny reptile brain. Buffer overflow.

I'm trying to get this thing under control every single day. I keep trying in the bathtub and in a large plant pot filled with water :)) most every day, one way or another. I don't know... I'm down to swallowing only maybe 20% of what I started out with but I haven't managed to reduce it to zero. Still way too much.

I don't want to rely on crutches (nose clips) if possible. I've had no surgery or a broken nose or anything that I know of. Is it possible that there exist people that just can't regulate the rate at which they exhale?

Any advice would be appreciated. Thanks!

-- Cathy

Tom Pamperin 11-19-2017 01:41 PM

That must be frustrating--I've never had a problem with this, so hopefully others will have ideas. But I do have some thoughts that might be worth pursuing:

Can you learn to regulate your rate of exhale on dry land, where the stress of being underwater, or having water go up your nose painfully, is removed from the equation?

I'm thinking of when I'm lifeguarding, I'll often sit in the chair watching the pace clock to time my breaths. I can pretty easily maintain a slow, steady, nasal exhale so that I breathe 3 times per minute. I usually take slightly longer to exhale than to inhale, but watching a clock, you should be able to work toward being able to exhale fully at a slow, steady rate--maybe 10-15 seconds to exhale fully?

Whether that will translate to anything useful in the water is hard to say. I hope so, because TI swimming can be such a great part of life that I'd hate to see someone want to be involved but not be physically able to do it.

Keep us posted on how it's going, and good luck.

whoiscathy 11-19-2017 02:11 PM

Thing is, I asked everyone, meaning, my TI coach, then all instructors I could see in the pool, and also other swimmers I chatted with, and so far no one seems to have met anyone with my problem. It's like I finally make up my mind at 40 to go for the one thing I always wanted to conquer and I hit a will already in Lesson 1. It infuriates me.

This blog article I linked does actually say,

(1) the problem is, to begin with,

"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. " Which describes my issue perfectly.

(2) The solution, however, is imperfect (copying this from the comments):

Anonymous said...
I have always been told that i need to breathe out of my nose underwater when swimming but if i do these techniques i wont be able to will i. Bit confused.

libor said...
@anonymous: thanks for your comment. If you get water in your nose while under water, it is better you blow bubbles through your mouth while you swim as you cannot control the air through your nose. If you blow through your nose, all air goes out very quickly, but with your mouth, you can release only as much air as you need.

[i]When being under water is your second nature then you can blow bubbles through both your mouth and nose.[/] <-- Who knows if this is ever in the cards for me?...

Tom, to your question, I've never noticed I had no control over my rate of exhalation through my nose until I got in the water. I think I have control over it in everyday life, yes. But underwater, if I try to do it at a slow rate water goes right in.

Maybe it's just a sweet spot kind of thing I haven't nailed yet; what rate is slow enough to qualify as trickle breathing but fast enough so that I get no water in. Maybe these 12 days haven't been enough. Or maybe it's a physical impossibility for me as it says in that comment. All I know is that it really frustrates me because it hinders me already and I really, really want to learn to swim.

ti97 11-19-2017 02:12 PM

Hello Cathy,

I know what you are experiencing. I don’t remember the exact ways that I overcame it but relaxation is the key. Eventually you will be able to control exhalation to the point where you can partially open your mouth underwater and not let water in. It takes a while.

I remember doing bobbing in chest-high water and synchronizing breathing/exhaling. Swim sidestroke and breaststroke to work on your breathing. Kicking on your side with short fins and turning your head into and out of the water to breathe. It’s just about relaxation and acclimation to the water. Don't do it forcefully, just slow it down and relax.

But whatever you do, it’s most important keep your head and spine aligned or you will become unbalanced – don’t lift your head to breathe – turn your head to breathe.
Are you sure that you are not “swallowing” water because you are inhaling while water is on your face? When you exhale the last “puff” should come as your face just clears the water. Try humming on exhale. When you inhale, you need to become one of those dreaded “mouth breathers” – not through your nose.

Eventually you will get it and can find the next thing that's broken to work on.

whoiscathy 11-19-2017 02:36 PM


I've actually tried some of your suggestions already, these things should have made it into my "I have tried so far" list:

-- I'm humming. that's how I seem to be down to 20% of the original problem (I think)
-- and I'm doing skate to sweet spot and back, I think properly (coach has yet to see that one), and I'm not exactly sure (aware?) how I can skate now without drowning... maybe I'm getting onto something in certain positions but not others?...

Now that I really come to think of it in detail, I think I have somewhat more control over the issue in skate (at least on my stronger/better side) than in a SG. Add arm strokes to either SG or skate and I get water in again, like, too much info for the poor brain to process and it "forgets" to shut down my nose again.

I'm not at proper side breathing yet...

whoiscathy 11-19-2017 02:41 PM


But whatever you do, it’s most important keep your head and spine aligned or you will become unbalanced – don’t lift your head to breathe – turn your head to breathe.
Yes, I didn't like that in the linked blog post either:


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.
<-- I didn't like the bolded part. I've been watching lots of videos by now. I'm not even close to learning proper breathing yet, but I promise I won't lift my head ;) I'll be like Shinji! If I ever get past the drowning stage! LOL LOL

Danny 11-19-2017 02:58 PM

Cathy, my personal story for whatever it's worth. I've been a lap swimmer for years and as a young(er) man I had no problems with getting water up my nose. As I got older this started to become a problem, for reasons I never fully understood. My solution: use a nose clip. In your first post you said that you view a nose clip as a crutch, which in some sense it is, but it is a very minor crutch and I find that it offers an almost complete solution. I say almost complete because, even with the nose clip, I sometimes still have this problem, but this is usually because I unconsciously started to inhale through my nose with the clip. So my advice is not to waste energy on this problem and see how much a nose clip helps. It will not cramp your swimming style in any way that I have noticed and I see a lot of other experienced swimmers who also use them.

whoiscathy 11-19-2017 03:09 PM


My coach gave me a nose clip to try, but it jumped off my nose. It jumped into the water, the silly thing! My nose isn't the smallest and the clip was too small. It just wouldn't stay put.

I view it as a crutch in a way that if I forget my (ideally) Perfect Nose Clip at home, the one that won't jump off my nose, then I can't even buy/borrow another one at the pool because people here typically have smaller noses than I do and I won't be able to swim without it. I just don't want to depend on stuff like that. Unless here's really no other way to solve my issue.

If I keep trying and I just can't train or teach myself to breathe through all the proper holes the in the end I may give in and get a Perfect Nose Clip, or three of them, just to make sure I always have one available :)

whoiscathy 11-19-2017 03:15 PM

Maybe I'll get a Permanent Nose Clip, some kind of a piercing. That would be pretty. The Dedicated Swimmer's Piercing. LOL

But at least it would stay put :)

ti97 11-19-2017 03:57 PM

check post 17 on head position -- keep your chin tucked to your chest -- dont force it but hang your head in alignment with your spine and keep it there:

Remember that the building blocks, in order of importance, are: Balance, then Streamline, and then Propulsion

Swim a side lying kick with your face (nose and mouth) to the air, then occasionally turn into water to exhale. Begin to turn into water more frequently as you get a rhythm going....use shorty fins if you need. After enough practice you will find a water pocket to breathe into and you will not need to swivel your head as much -- but swivel your head only -- don't lift it

Practice to stay Balanced -- watch this and do it -- especially the last position:

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