Gaining Confidence Through a Bowl of Water

By Carolanne Caron, Swimming Expert

Often one sticking point for people who are starting to work through their fear of water is getting their face wet.  Whether it is in the pool, in the lake, or even in the shower, it’s hard to imagine being comfortable and relaxed with your face being wet.  Today, I’m going to take you through the steps to getting more comfortable with your face in or near the water.

Step 1:  Learn to Breathe

Yes, you read that right.  We need to learn to breathe when we are around the water because it is different than when we are on land.  When we are exercising on land, we normally breathe in through our nose and out through our mouth so we can calm our heart rate down.  In water, we do the exact opposite.

When breathing around water, we want to take a quick, deep breath in through our mouth and envision that breath going all the way down to our belly.  Then we want to close our mouth and breathe out through our nose, envisioning the breath coming from our belly, all the way up, and out.  Give it a try in the air now and don’t forget to keep your shoulders relaxed as you learn this new breathing pattern. 

  Step 2:  Hum

You want your breath out through your nose to be slow and continual; it’s not like blowing your nose, which is forceful, but should be relaxed and calm.  One trick I use with my swimmers who are having difficulty learning how to blow out through their nose is to simply hum.  If you are humming, your body will automatically blow air out your nose without you having to think about it.  Also, by concentrating on your hum, your body will relax more than if you fixate on blowing out your nose.  Continue your hum until you need to take a breath in through the mouth. 

Try adding your hum to your breathing routine in the air from step 1 above.

Step 3:  Try It Out

The next time you take a shower, try your new breathing pattern for the water: 

  • Take a good, quick, deep breath in through your mouth and bring it all the way down into your belly.
  • Close your mouth and start your hum remembering to bring your breath up slow and controlled from the belly.
  • Keep humming while you put your face in (or near if you’re still timid) the water and continue your hum until your face is out of the water.
  • Finish your hum out of the water and repeat the steps above until you feel comfortable.

  Step 4:  The Bowl

When you are ready to move on, go to the kitchen and get a big, sturdy mixing bowl you can fill, to about 1-1.5 inches from the top, with water.  Set it on the counter and have your hands touching the sideboard and your feet touching the floor (this will ground your brain so it feels safer). 

  Start with mouth bubbles.  You can practice mouth bubbles by playing with a jar of child’s soap bubbles.  You want to be able to blow through the wand with enough force to make a bubble but not enough force to pop the bubble. 

Once you are comfortable with this technique you can move to the bowl.  Place your chin on the water, take your good, quick, deep breath in through your mouth, begin to blow out of your mouth, roll your mouth into the water continuing to blow out of your mouth nice and slow and controlled, and then roll your mouth out of the water continuing to blow out until your mouth clears the water.  Continue this process several times until you feel confident.  If you need to ground yourself and calm your body, move your fingers and toes to grip below you gently to remind your brain you are still grounded.

Once this feels comfortable, move on to nose bubbles.  Place your chin on the water in the bowl, take your good, quick, deep breath in through your mouth, begin your hum, roll your nose into the water, continue your hum, and roll your mouth out of the water before you need a breath and end your hum.  Remember to continue your hum the whole time you are under the water.  When you stop humming, your body will automatically want to take a breath and you could end up with a nose or mouth full of water, which is not pleasant.  Start with just 1-2 seconds of humming and then progress to several seconds of controlled, relaxed humming. 

Once you get comfortable with nose bubbles, you can move on to rolling your eyes into the water (I suggest using goggles for this step.) and then to having your forehead roll into the water.  You’ll know you have the exercise mastered when you can roll your face in and get your ears into the water with comfort.

The key to this process is to take it as slow as you need to so your body can feel comfortable with your new breathing skill.  Practice often and try to remain calm by concentrating on your hum, relaxing your shoulders, keeping your hands and feet touching something, and imagining your breath flowing freely.  If you’re getting frustrated, take a break and come back to it later.  The more you get frustrated, the less your body will want to cooperate.  If you need to break theses skills down even further, please do.  Everyone completes this exercise at different speeds so don’t compare your results to someone else’s.  If you need help with any of these concepts or need further suggestions, please reach out to me at or 603-424-4100. 

Coach Carolanne Caron is the Swimming Expert at Winning Swimming, LLC. She is a USA Swimming and ASCA Level 2 Certified Swim Coach, a Precision Nutrition Level 2 Certified Coach, and a Certified Canfield Trainer in the Success Principles.  Coach Caron gets triathletes out of the water faster and crosses “Learn to Swim” off the bucket list of adults.  She can be reached at or

© 2019, Winning Swimming, LLC, All rights reserved.

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