This is a re-print of an article I posted on March 04, 2016.

It is taken from my book (soon to be published) “Breathing Is The Secret To Swimming”. ©

Since most children and adults take the majority of their swim lessons in the summer I decided to reprint this article. If you are struggling with the ‘breathing’ portion of your swim lesson this article will solve that.

Please be patient with yourself when practicing this technique from “Breathing Is The Secret To Swimming” ©. You are learning a new skill. It will take just a bit of practice to learn how to swim breathe.


You have heard me speak many times about ‘swim breathing’ but what exactly is this?  Swim breathing is when you exhale air from your nose and inhale through your mouth. When we swim, we do NOT breathe the same way as when we watch TV, drive our cars, talk on the phone, text, ride our bikes, or generally live our life. If we did this, water would go up our nose and in our mouth. Very unpleasant.

Try swim breathing right now. Exhale from your nose and take a breath of air through your mouth. This is swim breathing.

Approximately 90% of the people are “nose breathers” and prefer to inhale and exhale air through the nose. When learning to swim you have to change your breathing and learn to ‘swim breathe’. We change our breathing so the water does not go up our nose and in our mouth. Later in this article I will teach you how to swim breathe.

I will address the other 10% of people who are not ”nose breathers” in another article. These people may have block nostrils from traumas, sports injuries, sinus issues, and other nasal obstructions. Some people may have a deviated septum. I will address your concerns and offer solutions in another article.

No one wants water up their nose–it burns and is gross and yucky. No one wants water in their mouth either–there is a lot of coughing involved. I see heads moving up and down in agreement.

We never hold our breath when we swim. Never. Are you holding your breath right now while reading this article? No. When you hold your breath you are causing your body to tense and you are not relaxed. Also, holding your breath keeps an excess of Carbon Dioxide (CO2) in your lungs and bloodstream. This is not a good thing. BREATHE.


Breathing is recommended by all doctors!


Holding your breath when you swim gives you the Puffer Fish look. I see this look on many of my younger students. Parents have good intentions when they tell their children to “hold their breath” but this will not work for swimming.

Many students, young and old, come to me for swim lessons but they do not like to put their face in water—not even in the shower or bathtub. They have a fear of water being near their face.  This is a very real fear. Learning how to ‘swim breathe’ at home will be helpful to these people.

Let’s get started! Yes, I am going to teach you how to ‘swim breathe’ right now. Read through the directions before starting.

  1. Get a large plastic salad bowl and put it on the kitchen table or counter. Fill the bowl up with warm water. Close your mouth and eyes– put your face in the salad bowl and HUMMM. Yep, hum a tune. It is relaxing.
  2. HUMMM loudly for two or three seconds.
  3. Lift your head UP and OUT of the salad bowl.
  4. Take a breath of air through your mouth. Open your eyes, blink a few times. Try your best not to rub your eyes. Bubbles will come out of your nose when you are humming.

Congrats! You have just learned how to swim breathe.

Repeat Steps 1-4 until you are comfortable with this way of (swim) breathing. Be patient with yourself. This is new to you. Go slow.

You may want to practice while wearing swim goggles, if you have them– then you can see the bubbles coming out of your nose. Perhaps you have a mirror you can put in the bottom on the salad bowl and look at your bubbles through the mirror. You will find this helpful in your learning experience.

If you have been my student or your children are my students, you have seen me bring my large plastic salad bowls to the pool. I have even bought ‘unbreakable locker mirrors’ with me. My students love to watch their nose bubbles! Everyone is comfortable starting at different levels of water. Some students can go directly into the pool and learn how to swim breathe. Some start at the steps. Some start in the Tot Pool. Some start with the salad bowl. When you learn to swim breathe no water will go up your nose or in your mouth.