If you’ve ever watched me swim in person you may have noticed that my head rides a lot higher in the water than is socially acceptable these days. I first got into swimming competitively in the mid 90′s when they taught you, especially if you were sprinting, to keep your eyes fixated on the wall. This is no longer en vogue, but it is firmly ingrained in my muscles as the thing to do. I get picked on for this by every coach I know and I’m really trying to fix it!

Last week when I was working out with Coach Nancy at Conejo Valley Multisport Masters she strapped a snorkel to my head to help me get used to the idea of keeping my head down. I promptly proceeded to almost drown myself… whoops. Turns out I breathe in and out a lot through my nose when I swim. We trouble shot the situation with a nose clip and after a little practice hanging on to the wall I figured out how to breathe through it… kind of. As much as I suck at using a snorkel I have to admit she was onto something.

I got my hands on a Finis Center-mount Swimmer’s Snorkel and made a trip to the gym today to try and master the dark art of breathing through a little tube. It didn’t go well but it wasn’t a complete failure. I can go wall to wall using the snorkel (as long as I have a nose plug in play) without much incident. I feel my head holding that down position much better and I feel a little smoother. It also takes some pressure off my neck which has been giving me trouble lately. Despite a few attempts, flip turns remain a no-go for me. I managed a few push-offs from the wall where I had to clear the snorkel when I surfaced but I’m still not very good at it. I have a really hard time dealing with the inhalation of water and my gag reflex. If there’s just a little bit of water in there and I suck it in I have to stop and kind of reset my breathing.

After swimming with the snorkel for a while I switched back to regular swimming and I could feel myself maintaining a much better head position. I continued to switch back and forth between snorkel and no snorkel swimming every couple hundred yards. Even though I’ve yet to master the snorkel I did feel like I got a lot of help with my head positioning and this is an excellent tool for those of you like me with a heads up freestyle affliction. I still have a lot of practicing to do before I can bring this thing to a workout with me, and I’m going to try a few other things that have been recommended to me to try and bring my head in line. Hopefully in the near future I will learn how to put my head down and go fast at the same time!

9 Responses to “Trying to Figure Out Snorkels”

  1. Ahelee says:

    Oh really?
    I hadn't noticed…

    I just bought 2 different nose plugs to try for backstroke and to try to flip with my snorkle.

    You know, we all have to find new ways to get FASTER and beat our tech-suit times!

  2. Juan Moczo says:

    Rob, great post. I've had the same experience with the snorkel, and your post confirmed it.

    Thanks !!

  3. Rob D says:

    Ahelee – yeah, you may have brought it up once or twice :) it's really weird for me to have something be so hard for me to do in the pool mechanically. Some of the people I swim with make it look so easy… I just gotta keep working on it!

    Juan – good luck with your snorkeling! It's hard, but I can tell it will be worth the effort

  4. Heidi C. says:

    Rob, I've found the Finis Freestyle snorkel a little easier to use, although I know that opinion isn't universally shared. For some reason, I get less water up my nose with that version and the extra bend it has really forces you to keep your head down. Next time you're down, you can try mine out. Just don't spit on it or anything ;-).

  5. Rob D says:

    I've been looking at the freestyle snorkel online and giving that one a shot… I may just have to make a swim toy impulse purchase, I'm just about due for a monofin anyways :)

  6. Glenn says:

    Hey Rob. I'm a constant nose plug user with the snorkel. My swimmers still laugh at me when I put it on, but I've found that even when I blow out through my mouth, water gets sucked up my nose. The snorkel for me, without nose plugs, is useless. Here's a video we made on the uses for the snorkel.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pkHFLfx5mMs

  7. Rob D says:

    Glenn – I was actually thinking about harassing you via e-mail on this one. It's funny, a lot my fast swim friends need the nose plug but a lot of newer swimmers seem to take to it just fine without… there must be something to that… anyways, thanks for the video link!

    BTW, any thoughts on the little cheater dry top cap Finis makes for the swimmer snorkel? http://www.finisinc.com/en/P-105057/Dry%20Top%20Attachment.aspx

  8. Leonardo says:

    Rob,
    I bought the Finis snorkel today and tested it right away… it was the weirdest feeling since my first time on clipless pedals.
    I've been swimming for nearly 30 years and I want to improve my butterfly/dolphin kick. I saw this device as a solution, but it'll take a time before I get used to it in the water: I'm doing chores at home like like mopping the floors, vacuum cleaning or typing this comment with the tube on… and it just feels weird. LOL
    Great post.
    Take care / Leo.

  9. Rob D says:

    I'll have to talk to the people at FINIS about marketing the snorkel as a tool for cleaning the house! I think it's hardest to adjust to for people that have swam for a long time, but totally worth it. I made some major break throughs in head position by using a snorkel every once and a while.