Wear a Noseclip in Backstroke

At one time, it may have been uncool to wear a noseclip for backstroke in either workout or in competition, but not any more. With backstroke superstars like Missy Franklin and Tyler Clary, among others, sporting their noseclips on television, coaches and swimmers are starting to realize that there is more to it than what meets the eye…or nose.

The first advantage of the noseclip is the obvious avoidance of the unpleasant experience of getting water up the sinuses. Ouch! Nothing puts a damper on a good race better than that. OK…maybe missing a wall on a turn does.

The second advantage of the noseclip is gained by avoiding what is needed to do in order to keep water from crawling down the nose and into the sinuses, blowing out your air. Unless you are one of those freaky swimmers with a long nose and big upper lip and can curl that lip up against your nostrils to keep water out, then you must provide a steady stream of air from your lungs out your nose in order to provide the positive pressure to keep the water out. The problem with this maneuver is that if you are staying underwater for any length of time doing the dolphin kicks, by the time you are ready to surface, the lung has run out of air.

If you were to blow all of the air that you can out of your lungs in the pool, the first thing you would notice is that you sink like a rock. The truth is, you would then weigh about 8 pounds in the water. Doesn’t seem like a lot, but when compared to the neutral weight of the body with a lung filled with air, it is significant. Imagine putting on an 8 pound weight belt and trying to kick to the surface; not impossible, but requires a lot more work.

By the time you blow out all the available air in your lung on your underwater dolphin journey to the surface, you have added about 8 pounds more weight to the task. Why burden yourself with the extra work? Use the noseclip, keep the air in your lung and explode out of the water on your breakout, instead of resurfacing like a submarine floating to the surface. Not only will you pop up easier, but you will also have one less thing to worry about, getting water up your nose.  With a relatively small investment in a Finis noseclip, you will do yourself two big favors.

In our Race Club camps, we work a lot on improving the underwater dolphin kick, now considered the fifth stroke. The use of the dolphin kick on backstroke is of the highest importance in developing good swimming technique. Getting fast underwater and staying down for the maximum allowed distance is essential to win. We now recommend the Finis noseclip for every backstroker as an important part of that process.

Yours in swimming,

Gary Sr.

6 Responses to Wear a Noseclip in Backstroke

  1. Neil Mavis

    Small swimming technique change, with a big change in outcome.  If you want to win the Indy500, you don’t go to the junkyard, you go to the winner’s circle.  Look who won gold in London using a nose plug! Here are some great swimming techniques videos, too: http://theraceclub.com/swimming-technique-videos/

  2. Laurie Gormley

    Found this article when I was researching the pros and cons of wearing a noseclip. I have an 11 year old daughter who wants to wear a noseclip for backstroke. She tried it and loved how much better she could do on her underwaters and how she was able to keep her head back for streamlining without getting water up her nose. Our problem is that her coaches yelled at her and don’t want her to wear one. They want her to “learn how to do without it.” I’ve tried to approach them but they’re unwilling to even discuss it. We are in a small town with no other team options. Any recommendations? She’s only 11 but she loves swimming and already has a solid zones cut. I hate to hold her back but she’s been yelled at once for using it and won’t risk that again.

  3. Gary Hall Sr.

    Print my article above and hand it to your coaches. If that doesn’t work have them email me…garyhallsr@theraceclub.com and explain their position. If that doesn’t work, try moving to another town. I never force the nose plug on anyone who doesn’t want to wear one, but I have never heard of the opposite.

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