Teaching your child how to blow into the water
Breath control is a critical part of swimming, and it is harder than you think! Breathing is something we all do naturally and we don't even need to think about it. However, when we are in the water we need to know how to breath correctly and safely.
Blowing vs Breath Holding
Holding your breath increases tension in the body, and this in turn increases your density in the water, meaning you can become less buoyant. Also, by breathing out and ridding yourself of the carbon dioxide building up in your body, you will feel much more relaxed when you swim.
Some swim teachers ask swimmers to hold their breath underwater and then blow out at the last moment. This is not something I recommend as it causes you to tense up which in turn will make you sink, causing lots of drag. So by having a good breathing technique will not only make you feel more relaxed, but also improve your body position. This technique also increases the likelihood of accidently inhalation of water.
How to blow out into the water
I know what you are thinking, blowing out is easy to do. Yes, the concept is easy but with a fear of putting your face in the water it becomes a huge mission. This section will help prepare your swimmer (or even yourself) to be comfortable with their mouth in the water, a lot of this can be practiced at home.
Did you know, water is 800 times more dense than air. This means when blowing out in the water, you need to blow against the pressure of the water. It takes a little air pressure to overcome the water and exhale sufficiently in the time available.
When I am teaching a new swimmer and I say that we are going to blow bubbles, they are sometimes confused or they are overwhelmed with the thought of putting their mouth in the water. I first make sure that they know what I mean when I say blow, and ask them to show me how to blow out birthday candles. If they don't show a correct blow (sometimes they blow raspberries or end up spitting rather than blowing air) then I will ask parents to get their swimmer to play with toys that involve blowing for them to work. For instance, a whistle, bubbles (soap bubbles or even blowing into milk).
Once I am happy that I know they understand how to blow, I will ask them to blow a hole in the water. This involves them looking at the water and blowing hard at the surface of the water. They will then move on to blowing toys or objects, such as 'flying saucers' or even a sponge. The more water that the sponge has absorbed, the harder they have to blow. If they are still nervous about putting their face near the water, bring the water to them! By this I mean, cup water in your hands and ask them to blow bubbles and/or face in the water, once they get confident, slowly lower your hands into the pool. From this point, the swimmer may be happy to put their mouth in the water and can blow bubbles. This then eventually progresses to full face in the water and submerging. Just remember this must be done at the their pace, rushing them will only cause them to have more anxiety about the water.
I have taught so many swimmers that have an anxiety about putting their face in the water as they are scared of water going up their noses. A great technique is to teach them to hum, as when you hum and put your nose in the water, you will then be blowing bubbles out of your nose. When they understand that you cannot blow with your mouth and nose at the same time, it does reduce a lot of anxiety.