View Full Version : How do you not breathe through your nose while SCUBA diving?

06-18-2010, 09:08
I just started taking a SCUBA class and the first day in the pool I couldn't complete the very first thing. We had to breathe with our snorkels underwater without anything covering our noses.

I couldn't do it. I absolutely hate getting water in my nose. I can swim without a nose covering, but that's when I'm holding my breath though.

I've been in band since 6th grade (just recently graduated) and we were taught that when we took our breath to breathe both in the mouth and nose to get as much air as we could quickly, it's second nature by now. So obviously now I'm having to retrain my body.

He won't allow me to wear nose plugs. If he did it would defeat the whole purpose of learning how in the first place. And I am practicing, but it's like we say in band "It doesn't do you any good to practice if you're practicing wrong."

Any tips? :help:

06-18-2010, 09:16
I reallocate that portion of the brain that exercised bladder control to breathing control.

As a kid, I tried breathing through a snorkel without a mask on and quickly concluded it was impossible. So, when they told me I was going to have to breath scuba with no mask, I was pretty sure they were smoking something funny. The bottom line is lots of practice. Start in a pool with just a mostly flooded mask and a snorkel so you have the feeling of your nose in water but it can't travel freely up your nose when you breath. Focus on breathing through your mouth only. You will be able to tell when it is working. Then remove the mask entirely. Take it slow and focus. Standing in a pool while doing this allows easy recovery if you lose focus. When you feel comfortable (it may take some time) switch over to scuba and work to deeper water. Eventually, it will be no problem to do this for as long as you want.

06-18-2010, 10:47
I had a lot of 'mask anxiety' when I started. If there was any water, even a couple small drops, I would think it was going to get inhaled through my nose. On about my 24th dive, my dive buddy had to signal me to clear my mask. Due to losing a strap clip, my mask wasn't very tight, and flooded up to about 2/3 full. I was following a fish, and simply tilted my head, so one eye was clear and could see.
So you will get used to having water on and in your nose soon.

Great advice awap!

06-18-2010, 11:13
I couldn't do it. I absolutely hate getting water in my nose. I can swim without a nose covering, but that's when I'm holding my breath though.

Any tips? :help:

My first tip is this: YES, you can do it!

Second tips is this more of a question, can you drink through a straw?

If the answer is yes, I guarantee that you will be able to master this with practice.

Third, use a simple snorkel to practice at home. Dip your face in the tub or a sink filled with water and pretend the snorkel is a straw. If you do get water in your nose you can simply lift your face out of the water.

Practice, practice and practice before class and you will have it in no time.

06-18-2010, 16:10
watch tv while wearing the mask and snorkel. if you keep breathing with your nose, pinch it closed with your fingers to realign your breathing. remember long slow breaths. when that is comfortable then go to the sink or pool and practice with real water. If I can overcome the sensation of needing to rip off my mask than you can too.
another thing I do is I close my eyes when I make the transition from air to water and open my eyes under water. the sight of water coming up over my face used to really freak me out

06-18-2010, 16:31
watch tv while wearing the mask and snorkel.


06-18-2010, 17:28
Practice it a lot.

06-18-2010, 17:28
watch tv while wearing the mask and snorkel.


so take a picture and post it....

have you noticed my picture posting skills?????

It took me 5 months to post a comic!!

06-27-2010, 12:16
I figured it out, YOU can figure it out!!! Dont let it get you. I had a heck of a time with even my nose by itself in the water. I ALWAYS used nose clips. Never was afraid of the water, loved it, just had to have clips. Well, obviously that aint gonna cut it for OW cert.

So off I went to my brothers house with a snorkel, mask, swim goggles (just cover your eyes) and a DETERMINATION that this wasnt going to keep me from doing it.

My first thing was just to get my nose uncovered in the water. That took me about 2 tries and a couple of nose fulls of water. That's it. I KNEW it was in my brain, I just had to override the brain long enough for it to realized that I wont drown. Then I put on swim goggles, and snorkel and face in the water breathing thru the snorkel. Goggles are just so I could have my eyes open and not worry about the chemicals in the pool. So now I have nose exposed in water, breathing from a snorkel.

Then starting to swim around with goggles / snorkel. Every so often taking deep breaths and diving coming up blast clearing the snorkel, continuing breathing all the time face in water, nose uncovered. IMO once you get that, you've got it's ass kicked!

After that mask and snorkel on... snorkel like normal, stop equalize mask, while breathing thru snorkel, let water in mask. Swim like that for a while. Then clear it, repeat.

06-27-2010, 20:01
Odd I have had no issue. My mask will normally flood to fill the nose area only and it does not bother me. Though I have always breathed through my mouth.
I would also recommend practice and learning to deal with the feeling. I get it when my mask flood but I was told up front that it would happen. The instructor said it was impossible to breath through both at the same time and I do. I remember in the first five minutes he said your breathing out of your nose and pushing your mask out. After a few dives I got over it.

This is why I get in and out of my gear in the water and why I flood my mask every dive.

06-27-2010, 21:08
I don't think I ever had to do that during my OW class. But I have never had any problems with water getting up my nose. So if I had to breathe with just the snorkel and no mask I could do it. I just don't think about it

07-08-2010, 19:54
I had the same problem and practiced in my bathtub with a snorkel. I had to do this when my wife was at work cause she said she would take pictures and put them on facebook.

07-08-2010, 21:40
I know I'm new here, but I may be able to help with this.

My instructor gave us a great tip when doing this yesterday. If you feel that you are starting to struggle press your tongue against the roof of your mouth kind of like when you are using it as a splash guard only adding more pressure. This makes it VERY difficult to breathe through both airways. SO, if you do this while focusing on breathing through your mouth it will be near impossible to accidentally breathe through your nose which would draw in water.

We were asked to breathe with no mask for 60sec. For the first 20 or so I was doing good, but then stated to struggle with my nose. I pressed the roof of my mouth and BAM instantly sealed my nose back off and was smooth and comfortable after that.

Hope this helps.

07-08-2010, 23:06
can you drink through a straw?

If the answer is yes, I guarantee that you will be able to master this with practice.

That's exactly right. Mental imagery (imagining drinking through a straw) is a powerful tool.

To get a real feel for what part of your mouth to close off, try this, too:
Imitate somebody talking with a stuffy nose/cold. You know, that kind of talking where m's get said like b's and n's get said like d's: Baybe we cad go to a bovie todite. (Maybe we can go to a movie tonite.) Pay attention to the muscles you use to close off the air passage to the nose (where the sounds m and n are made), and then use that same technique/those same muscles to close off your nose when your face is in the water.

07-11-2010, 20:25
So I had my girlfriend in the pool this afternoon, and she was trying to do this with her snorkel. She was also struggling really badly with this skill, and was getting pretty frustrated trying. I was trying to help her work through it, and she finally got it. She said that she did end up using the tongue trick, but she had to use the "back" of her tongue against the roof of her mouth. Again, once she got the nasal passage closed she could stop pressing and breathe as normal.

I guess it is just a matter finding the technique, or variant of a technique that works for the individual.

Good luck to anyone having issues with this.

07-12-2010, 06:24
DSMP, Congrats on graduating 6th Grade :smiley36: . You need to teach your brain, which will then tell your nose etc. etc. Stand or even better sit in the shallow end of the pool/bathtub, lower head under the water, keeping it vertical, up to your nose and breathe through snorkel, slowly lower your head till nostrils just in water, try again. In this position you have to almost "suck" air into your nose so the snorkel should be the path of least resistance. Don't lower your head any more until you feel confortable, when you are, lower yourself slowly still keeping vertical. when totally under and again comfortable slowly tilt your face down, now water will start to want to run up your nose and make it harder, but it is the same as before just breathe through the snorkel and take your time. It feels funny but the water just stays in the nostrils. I know this sounds long winded but I had to reteach myself after a nose operation and it works.

07-12-2010, 15:10
yay... mouth breathing and diving!!

Tom H
08-12-2010, 16:42
It's simple. I tried to figure out the best way to explain it. When not in water, breathe out a fast stream of air from your nose only. Now stop the air flow abruptly (make your nose do that, do nothing with your mouth--there's something you do in the area of the roof of the mouth, near the sinuses, or sort of between the mouth and nose--you just close off the air suddenly like a lock). When you are in this situation, water will only go in your nostrels--which is obvious, but none at all will go past them down your throat, etc. When in water without the mask, just hold this position, which is effortless. You obviously don't need to do this with mask on. This need not even be practised in water to get it. Maybe someone can even explain it better?

08-29-2010, 10:36
I too am/was having trouble with the mask off in the pool during my classes, did panic a couple of times and raised my head out of the water. I did manage to control it and stay under and practiced multiple times at the end of my last pool session, I was exhaling through my nose instead of the regulator, I see no one mentioned this. Is that a no no? I still have one more pool session before my OW dives so I will be practicing this as much as possible since it is causing abit of anxiety and sucking the fun out of this experience.

08-30-2010, 07:09
Boy can I feel you pain and frustration. I just got certified yesterday, and of all the skills this one was the most terrifiying for me.
In my pool training the mask clearing was fine, but when it came time to remove the mask I drank so much water I though I'd never get it.
I read everone's advice, tried all the suggestions even had a pool to try to them in and still drank several more quarts of water filling my sinuses. I thought I would have to stick with snorkeling. Closing in on 3 days before my ow dives my husband who wasn't having any problems (figures) kept telling me to close the back of my throat etc. as if I wouldn't have done that if I could. Here's what I finally did after much practice.
With my head above the water I took a deep breath in, slowly decended to eye level and blew out like I was blowing up a balloon. Then I inhaled slowly, but deeply as if I was sucking the air out of the balloon. Slowly blew in the imaginary balloon and inhaled out of the balloon again very deeply and slowly. Keep the image of a balloon in your head and make sure you inhale deeply and you'll see it works.
Eventually, when your comfortable go down deeper until your head is completely sumerged. I also found if I tilted my head down a bit the water that does go up your nose isn't as bothersome. Trust me it works. Practice practice practice. most of all stay calm and focused on your breathing. My husband eventually held the snorkle above the water while I cleared the mask, the I slowly filled it, and whe I was ready removed it, I breathed in and out a few times and replaced it all while thinking about that balloon. And it worked like a charm. If a "Nervous Nellie" like me can stay calm enough and concentrate on my breathing and do it in the ow, I know you can too.

I wish you luck, don't sell yourself short it was a blast finally seeing all the great stuff at the bottom, instead of bandaids and hair elastics!:)

08-30-2010, 18:21
I filled the sink up last night and dunked my head down with my snorkel in, the initial feeling is what gets me, I blew out through my nose right away and then I was ok to breath thru the snorkel only, just mentally pictured sucking in through a straw, was able to stay under a couple of minutes. I imagine I won't have a problem during my OW, but I know this won't be one of my favorite things to do.

08-31-2010, 07:02
No it won't be your favorite. It sucks.
When I was doing my certification my instructors took us for a little swim first to relax us and have a little fun before we started the drills. I was enjoying seeing the lobsters, striped bass, swaying seeweed etc. The vis was about 10 ft thanks to Danielle so I was staying close to her. Well to get to my point, I looked up and her fins was right in my face and the first thought was "Oh God please don't knock of my mask" That's when I realized how important a skill it is to master. Like it or not I'll do this drill everytime I get into the water till it's second nature. I do not want to drink anymore water than I have to:) I'm glad you are having a better time with your breathing as well. stay calm and focused. It works!

09-01-2010, 07:16
I had my 4th pool session last night and conquered this phobia, I just kept taking my mask off and by the end of the night I was swimming the length of the pool with it off, exhaling through my nose worked for me. So now I don't have this in the back of my mind and I can enjoy this hobby even more.

09-01-2010, 12:18
That's fabulous! Doesn't it feel good. I thought, "this is never gonna happen for me"! and then boing!
Keep it up Tjames the best is yet to come. Wait till you taste the saltwater and see something besides hair elastics and band aides:)
Keep us all posted I'm excited for you. I'm going to Mexico in 2 weeks and I've got a lesson planned for buoyancy. I certainly don't want to be bouncing all over those beautiful reefs!