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A snorkel may be helpful for a new swimmer.
When you think of snorkeling you might picture swimmers in exotic, tropical locales who use the breathing tubes to keep their faces under water, the better to observe fish and other marine life. But snorkels may come in handy even when there's nothing to see below the water other than the bottom of a cement pool. Novice swimmers can use snorkels to help learn how to maneuver through the water, and to improve their skills.
How Snorkels Work
A classic snorkel is shaped like the letter вЂњJ,вЂќ with the curved end going into your mouth and the vertical portion positioned to the side of your face. That vertical portion is curved in some snorkel varieties, to follow the curvature of your head. Either way, classic snorkels are designed with aquatic tourists in mind -- with the tube off to the side, it doesn't hinder your vision. Other snorkels fit in front of your face, rather than to the side. The front-face versions let you swim normally, without fear that the snorkel's open end will dip below the surface and fill with water. Indeed, this type of snorkel is specifically designed for swimmers, rather than tropical tourists.
Learning to Snorkel
If you've never used a snorkel previously, practice with it out of the water before you use it in the pool while you're swimming. Place the mouthpiece into your mouth and rest your teeth on it gently, without biting the tube. When you're comfortable breathing through the tube, put your face in the water, or try floating face down while breathing through the snorkel. Gradually advance to some easy kicking -- perhaps while wearing fins or holding a floatation device -- and eventually to standard strokes, if you've already learned to swim.
Snorkels for Beginning Swimmers
Unless you learn to swim by using the backstroke -- which keeps your face out of the water -- you must learn how to incorporate breathing into your stroke. But if you wear a snorkel, you have one less thing to learn, so you can focus on developing the rest of your technique first. The same principle can be applied to more advanced swimmers who are trying to improve their techniques. By taking breathing out of the equation, you can pay closer attention to the smaller details of your swimming stroke.
Clear the Tubes
A key problem a beginner may face when using a snorkel is keeping water from splashing inside the tube. You can use a вЂњdryвЂќ snorkel, which contains a valve that closes when the breathing end of the tube dips below the water. Otherwise, learn to clear the tube by simply blowing the water out. You must blow fairly aggressively when the tube is above the water line. You don't have to blow as hard if you're completely submerged -- when you learn to do flip turns, for example. Again, practice filling the tube with water and purging it before you use a snorkel while you're swimming. As a beginner, it may be counterintuitive to exhale before inhaling when you want to take a breath and the tube is filled with water. Practicing in shallow water can help you develop good snorkel-clearing habits in a safe environmentвЂ¦