In the history of swimming, the single biggest waste of time is: “Blow your bubbles!”
WHAT? But, everyone does it! WHY is it a waste of time?
- When the non-swimmer or beginner blows bubbles with the lips, phonetic: “bbbbbbbbbb”, he deflates too quickly and that triggers a signal from the brain to the diaphragm to rapidly re-inflate the lungs, however, if the swimmer or non-swimmer is underwater, they are under asphyxia conditions, it is impossible for anyone to take a breath inside the water.
- The single difference between swimmers and non-swimmers is precisely the ability of the swimmer that is able to return to the surface and take a breath at will, and hopefully every breath will be as good as the first breath. The non-swimmer, no matter how hard he tries, he remains in asphyxia conditions, a life threatening situation, and is not able to take his next breath at will. Therefore, the famous: “I don’t want to go under!”
- In swimming, competitive styles, most of the air released has to be exhaled out the nose.
- In freestyle, the swimmer exhales out the nose during the body roll and head rotation, so water will not enter the nose. Swimmers, who do not blow out the nose, tend to lift their head and then turn it to breathe.
- In backstroke, not exhaling through the nose, guarantees that water will enter the nose almost every stroke as the arm recovers over the head, because in order to keep hips in a high position, the head must be pressed to the water, in today’s top backstroke swimmers, water runs over the forehead almost continuously.
- In the styles of butterfly and breaststroke, even though the breath is taken to the front, it is easier to gauge the amount of air exhaled in order to get to each subsequent breath, exhaling out the nose and not burst breathing which produces unnecessary fatigue.
- When practicing summersaults in the water, namely, freestyle or backstroke flip turns, people who are taught to exhale through the lips are not able to accomplish a flip, they will claim that they get dizzy, or they lose their sense of direction, what is really happening is that the nose is flooding.
What do we teach instead of blowing bubbles?
- In the early stages of learning how to swim, either a balloon face, one “P” phonetic where air is not lost and the beginner can last a few seconds underwater without the risk of ‘sniffing’ it, or if the teacher is still hooked on, “blow your bubbles”, then teach tight lips to obtain a phonetic “pppppppppppppp”, this way the air lasts longer in the lungs and the beginner is able to get the initial swims or glides much more comfortably without the desperate need to breathe again too soon.
- In the intermediate to advanced stages of learning teach to exhale out the nose; with sealed lips a phonetic “mmmmmmmmmmmm” the air that is exhaled out the nose is what protects the nose during head rotations, body summersaults and rolls.
- In the water, the nose is like an empty bottle, when sunken in beak down, water cannot climb into it but if we start turning the open end of the bottle toward the surface, water begins entering the bottle, displacing the air inside of it. This is exactly what happens when you do head rotation and you do not know how to protect your nose.
- In the water, the nose is also like the faucet in the bathroom or kitchen sinks, only it has imaginary valves… if we open up the valves all the way in the sink a lot of water comes out, likewise, if the imaginary valves of the nose are opened all the way, the lungs empty out in a fraction of a second. And the valves of the faucet can be controlled from a drop by drop stream to tiny string of water, likewise shutting the imaginary valves of the nose no air comes out. Or they can be controlled from a steady hum during meditation in which 1 breath can last as long as a minute, or longer; to the amount of time it takes to exhale while you do stroke count of a number of pulls to a breath. A favorite hypoxic drill for freestyle is breathing every 3, 5, 7, or 9 arm pulls to each subsequent breath; don’t attempt burst breathing while stroking 9 pulls to 1 breath, in approximately 3 breaths the swimmer will be exhausted from breath holding.
In conclusion, don’t waste babies, children, teens or adults time teaching them to blow lip bubbles; it is truly an unnecessary skill to practice. There is a curve to learning to inhale with mouth and exhale with nose, in order to learn to swim well. Do not rush through it. Breathing in the water requires concentrated attention; on land we breathe, laugh, cough, sneeze, scream, cry, etc. and never once do we pay attention to our breathing… until you begin practicing yoga or martial arts. Nose protection is dependent on the ability of the diaphragm to push air out the nose with a force equal or a bit larger than the pressure of the water trying to slip in the nose.