View Full Version : hi and help with irrational fear

July 6th, 2007, 10:02 AM
I a getting back into swimming due to a foot injury - have been a runner for a while. I swam as a child mostly for fun but did compete for a Y team briefly. I can remember not doing very well but I don't think I ever received much coaching. I have recently (over the last month) really gotten back into swimming and am taking an intermediate adult swimming class to work on technique.
So far so good - I am starting to get interested in joining a master's swimming group this fall. I am now wanting to learn how to do a flip turn. I realized yesterday that I have two hurdles to overcome. The first is the swimming underwater on my back part. I am working on that part now and have a pretty healthy fear of water going up my nose. There is also something scary about being on my back under water. I want to overcome this and am looking for some advice. I need some exercises to try or something to think about to psych myself up for it. Breathing face down does not bother me at all - I never have a problem exhaling through my nose in that position. I hum all the time which helps. Any advice? (The second hurdle is the flip but I really think the first is the big one I need the most help with - will be asking my teacher for more help, but it's hard to get individual attention.)

Concho Pearl
July 6th, 2007, 11:04 AM
I'm trying to think and really the only time your "underwater on your back" is pushing off the turn in backstroke. Try going into the shallow end, push off the wall "under water on your back" arms over your head (hands hands lapover one another) and just streamline as far as you can and repeat. Or you can just go to the bottom of the pool lay on your back and stay there until you have to come up for air.

To keep water from going up your nose you can either blow bubble out the mouth, or what I do when I come out of a backstroke turn I turn my lip up like I smell something really bad until I surface.

A freestyle flip turn is just a summer-salt. Start by going as far into the deep end until you can just touch bottom any where in the pool - but far enough from the wall not to hit it. Then just do summer-salts sometimes someone will have to help by flipping your feet over while your doing it. People tend to summer -salt off to the side, you want your feet to go directly over your head. It will take a few time, but then you'll get it. After you can get the feel of doing it - start to swim toward the wall, it's okay if you flip turn to soon and can't push off, next time just get a little closer. You'll get the feel of it, once your feet touch the wall turn onto your stomach and push off. Keep repeating until your comfortable.

Mighty Minnow
July 6th, 2007, 11:19 AM
You can always try a nose plug for the backstroke......

July 6th, 2007, 01:16 PM
... I realized yesterday that I have two hurdles to overcome. The first is the swimming underwater on my back part. I am working on that part now and have a pretty healthy fear of water going up my nose. There is also something scary about being on my back under water. I want to overcome this and am looking for some advice....
There are a variety of ways to do a flip turn when approaching the wall on your stomach. One of them involves rotating as you flip, which means you will not be face up in the water very long. Your instructor or coach should be able to help you gradually learn this technique. Breaking any swimming technique into basic parts and becoming confident in each individual part before you combine them all together is the general principal behind the American Red Cross method of swimming instruction (as well as most all other useful methods).

Your instructor or coach will probably also have some tips for overcoming your fear of getting water up your nose (as well as swimming on your back). You may be able to come up with some ideas of your own, you just need to get creative and try to think outside the box.

The first thought I had was for you to do some kick drills on your back (any kick will do, flutter, whip, or dolphin). Hold onto a kick-board (for support) with your arms out straight in front of you as you kick on your back. As you get comfortable with that, then try pressing your shoulders down so your face is momentarily submerged. You will need to blow air out your nose to keep the water from coming in. Work up to it slowly, and be patient.

If your fear is extreme enough you may want to also wear a flotation belt for extra security and support. You could wear a flotation vest instead if necessary, but this will make it difficult to get your face under water.

I regularly use a modified version of this drill (no kick-board with a dolphin kick on my back) to help with my fly practice, and also to practice being face up under water. The undulating motion of the dolphin kick makes it easy for me to regularly dip my face under water. I donít have a problem with flip turns, but in coming off the wall for backstroke I frequently cannot let the air out slow enough, and find myself racing to the surface for air. With regular practice however, Iím much better at it now than I was a few years ago.

July 7th, 2007, 06:19 PM
Hi saracb,

I am a newer swimmer also working up to joining a masters team, also not too sure about flip turns, and also averse to swimming underwater on my back (but not afraid-even if I crack my head like a coconut on the wall, I'll still float, and someone will drag me out). I am interested to see what others suggest, but I will tell you how I am approaching these challenges. I am using dolphin kick drills to work up to swimming on my back underwater. I just learned the dolphin kick and it is so sinuous and fun that I think that my desire to do it every which way will help me get over the water-up-my-nose issue. Right now I am practicing it on my side and switching sides underwater. Next I'm going to try rolling underwater like an otter and then try going on my back. I'm keeping the spirit of play and adventure in mind as I try these things that make me a little uncomfortable. After all, I don't have to do anything I don't WANT to do. And I really really want to swim all strokes well.

As for the flip turn, I'm convinced I am going to bash my brains out if I approach close enough to be able to kick off the wall. I'm going to take the advice of practicing somersaults away from the wall. I think that will help. I haven't tried that.

I'm glad to see another aspiring master swimmer on here! Please post again and let us know how you are doing with these issues.


July 7th, 2007, 07:41 PM
I totally can relate about the being on your back under water with the surface a foot up. It used to freak me out!

For me, I took everything in baby steps. I did not even attempt the back stroke flip turn for a long long time. Instead I worked on stream lining from an open turn on my back. This worked because I got that extra breath from the open turn. And then I practiced, and practiced and practiced. As I go more comfortable in the water, these things slowly came easier. By slowly, I mean several years.

I am coming from a background of NO swimming before age 38, so hopefully it will not take you as long, but if it does, just keep working at it. I now have no issues with streamlining a long way on my back and even after flipping.

July 8th, 2007, 06:03 AM
My only advice would be to, well, practice the turns. Just go for it. Blow air out of your nose during the turn and you should be fine. Alternatively, you could also wait until you start team practice and let your coach coach you on your turns...

I taught myself to do the turns by simply watching other swimmers in the water and then practicing on my own.

Good luck with it!

July 9th, 2007, 12:17 PM
Thanks for the advice. I worked out yesterday and the pool was pretty crowded so I only tried a few things. I think that Concho Pearl's method of turning up the lip might work for me. I think I will try the kickboard/dolphin kick on the back drill today to practice breathing. And when I am feeling confident I will try gliding on my back underwater after an open turn. I think that if I can get comfortable doing that I will be on my way. I really appreciate the help!

July 9th, 2007, 08:54 PM
I love my nose clip - I started using one to stave off recurring sinus infections. I learned very quickly to exhale from my mouth only.