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Swimming Nose Clips – Advantages and Disadvantages

Swimming nose clips are little devices made of bent wire padded with rubber. They are designed to keep the water out of your nose.

To do so, you stick the device on your nose and it pinches your nostrils together.

A simple nose clip with a wire-bound frame and latex padding.
A simple nose clip with a wire-bound frame and latex padding.

Why Use a Nose Clip?

If you are a beginner, there are so many things to think about and get right.

Breathing is yet another component of swimming technique you have to master, especially in the front crawl.

So the temptation is great to buy a nose clip to at least keep water out of your nose.

But is using a nose clip a good idea?

Nose Clip Advantages

I took up swimming again as an adult in my thirties.

A nose clip was one of the first swimming accessories I bought besides the mandatory swimsuit, swimming goggles and a swim cap.

I used it extensively before I weaned myself off of it after about a year of swimming.

So let’s have a look at the advantages which using a nose clip brings:

1) When you learn front crawl, it avoids that water enters your nose when you turn your head to breathe.

So you only have to focus on your mouth while breathing.

2) When you learn backstroke, it prevents the water from entering the nose if you lack balance (and the head submerges), or if water is projected in your face by the recovering arm.

3) To learn or improve your butterfly stroke, you may have to do body undulations and dolphin kicks on the back.

In that case, it may nearly be impossible to keep water out of your nose without using a clip.

4) When you learn the flip turn, it allows you to learn the correct flip motion first without worrying about breathing.

Later on, you can remove the clip and practice correct exhalation during the flip.

5) If your nose is allergic to pool chemicals (e.g. chlorine), a clip might be the solution to keep those chemicals out.

6) There exists a killer amoeba that lives in certain warm bodies of water and enters the human body through the nose.

From the nose, it migrates to the brain and literally eats it alive!

As you might guess, this is a dangerous medical condition. Luckily infections by this amoeba are rare.

Nevertheless, you might wear a nose clip as a precaution when you swim in bodies of water that might be infected.

Nose Clip Disadvantages

You will rarely see an experienced swimmer use a nose clip, except for specific exercises that demand it or in the case of an allergy.

That’s because using it also has its drawbacks:

1) Breathing is less efficient because the nose is shut down and the overall physical efficiency in the water decreases.

2) You are more inclined to hold your breath if you wear a nose plug.

Holding your breath should be avoided as it is better to exhale continuously in the water because it keeps the body more relaxed and the stroke more fluid.

3) Water might become trapped in the nose and generate snot that can’t be evacuated.

That certainly was the case for me, and additionally, my nose was regularly obstructed after a training if I had used a nose clip.

4) When I started to wean myself off the nose clip after about a year of swim practice, I had the problem that water entered my nose when I turned the head to breathe.

It seems that wearing the nose clip all the time, I had gotten into the habit of swimming with a too low head position.

This in turn caused the breathing problem mentioned above. So this was a bad habit I acquired which took some time to shed.


A nose clip is an excellent piece of gear for beginners, as it makes breathing easier while learning how to swim.

It makes especially sense when learning front crawl or backstroke.

However, once you become more proficient in your swimming abilities, you should try to wean yourself off the nose clip, and only use it under special circumstances.

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