The Smell of Chlorine

23 Jul

WordPress does a nice job of monitoring what terms people enter at search engines that subsequently direct them to our blogs. It turns out that many of the searches that lead people to HalfAwake are along the lines of “how can I swim without water going up my nose”. These keywords are being directed here via my “Sink or Swim” post, where I discuss my own fear of water going up my nose, and my eventual acceptance that there’s not much you can do about it.


I’d like to elaborate on this issue a bit. First of all, as far as your ability to continue living is concerned, water going up your nose is not a serious problem unless it goes up so far that you begin to inhale it. My friend from highschool Earl could string a wet noodle into his nostril and back out of his mouth and then use it to floss his tonsils, and he seems to be OK. I don’t know anything about the physiology of the nose, but I think it’s a generally sensitive area, and that is probably why getting water up there is uncomfortable for most people (probably not Earl though). Furthermore, if you are panicked or nervous when the water does enter your nose, I think you are more likely to actievely pull it into your lungs. As I said in my previous post, getting water up my nose got less bothersome for me once I put myself through it many times. The water still goes in there, it just doesn’t make me want to call for the lifeguard anymore.

That being said, you can take steps to help prevent water from entering your nose. Here are the things that I have empirically found to help:

  • Think about the position of your head when you jump in. Experiment and see if certain positions work better for you.
  • Also think about the position of your head when you do rotary breathing. I’m still a very weak swimmer — I can barely swim fifty meters at the altitude I’m living at now. I don’t understand it well enough to draw a picture, but I have learned that at certain angles, my nose is much more likely to take on water during rotary breathing. If I’m careful, I can avoid it.
  • Make sure you take a deep breath before going under water or jumping in.
  • I’ve never used them, but my friend Paul had alot of success with nose-clips. They do keep the water out of your nose, but may also cause some uncomfort in your ears if you swallow while you have them on.
  • Practice ‘bobs’ (dunk your head, exhale rapidly, come back up, take a deep breath, repeat). When you do bobs, some water goes up your nose from the force as you enter the water, and from the bubbles as you blow the air out. Start out doing the bobs slowly, and only do a few. If your can work to the point where you can do many consecutive bobs, it will probably help you learn how to avoid getting as much water in your nose (and how to tolerate that water which you cannot avoid).
  • Holding your nose when you jump in helps, of course, but it’s sort of like putting a bandaid on your headache.

Let me reiterate again that I’m a terrible swimmer and certainly not a doctor of any sort. If water going into your nose makes you cough or have trouble breathing, then don’t push yourself. I’m only suggesting that water going part-way up the nostril isn’t always as bad as you may fear, and you might be able to learn to manage it better.

Author’s Note: I just saw that one search for “water up nose pain excruciating” led someone to my blog. Please, if water going into your nose is causing any pain, let alone excruciating pain, see a doctor.


Posted by on July 23, 2007 in No Easy Days



2 responses to “The Smell of Chlorine

  1. feartheseeds

    August 1, 2007 at 2:23 am

    The most absurd search engine terms I’ve had recently are “pubic aroma” and “WALRUS PENIS”… their capital letters. Because if you’re going to search for walrus penis, you might as well shout about it. I can’t remember having written a post about either.

  2. halfawake

    August 4, 2007 at 5:07 am

    Lol. I’m sure you could come up with some post that combines those two topics into one.


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