Groundbreaking Nose Clip Training with the Wisconsin Badgers

Photo Courtesy: Peter H.Bick

By Brianna Hines, Swimming World College Intern

Introducing Nose Clips

“All races are underwater,” said Whitney Hite, head coach of the University of Wisconsin-Madison swim team.

Underwaters are no longer just for sprinters and backstrokers. Each stroke and distance benefits from strong underwater breakouts, which invites a new emphasis on underwater techniques for coaches to explore. Hite is innovative in creating new ways to push the limits of his swimmers’ underwater abilities.

Heavily influenced by the races and underwater techniques of swimmers at the NCAA Championship, Hite began to form ideas on how he could potentially improve his team’s underwaters. Generally nose clips are an accessory for backstroke and IM swimmers, but Hite believes they can be a resource for swimmers of every type. As spring training began, Hite introduced a new method of training wherein the entire team uses nose clips.

Nose Goes

The Badgers, like many other teams, are accustomed to an underwater focus and are required to complete eight underwater kicks off each wall in practice and at meets. While this practice has worked to build a great foundation for strong lungs and powerful turns,“not everyone was buying into it,” according to Hite.

Eight underwater kicks off each wall is an incredibly difficult task, especially for those in longer events. Nose clips, however made turns easier and created a smoother transition into long breakouts.

Some of the swimmers admit they had never worn a nose clip before. Aware that it would be different, the coaches created a necessary adjustment period. Training with the new accessory has its difficulties. This includes the basic ability to be consistent in wearing it at practice and for long periods of time, as well as overcoming the discomfort of not being able to breathe through the nose.

However embracing a challenge was nothing new for the Badgers.

“We put our athletes in uncomfortable situations that they have to resolve,” assistant coach Daniel Schemmel said. “We like our athletes to be challenged and for them to be constructive problem solvers.”

The team took resolving and overcoming in stride.

“We took two or three days to ease into training, but then it started becoming natural to me as well as the others I train with,” senior distance specialist Jenny Holtzen said.

The distance group found the nose clip creates breath efficiency. Without the ability to breathe through the nose, the swimmers are able to focus on the oxygen intake through the mouth.

Photo Courtesy: David Farr

Photo Courtesy: David Farr

 

However, the ease that the distance group had was not felt by all. Senior breaststroker Anna Meinholz felt that butterfly and breaststroke were the most challenging.

“At first, it was super bizarre,” Meinholz said. “Butterfly and breaststroke were more challenging because you already hold your breath for a while with those strokes with pullouts and underwaters.”

Despite the challenges, the team understands the importance of underwaters and Hite’s creative thinking. With time and practice the value of the nose clip was seen by all.

“At first I was not a huge fan of using it for breaststroke because I felt like it made it harder to breathe, but now I think it helps to control my breathing a lot and I can stay underwater longer on my pullouts,” Meinholz said.

Though the nose clips have not been a part of their training for an extended amount of time, technical improvements of the team’s underwater kicking have been substantial. The positive feedback has created motivation for using them in races as well. The team will be required to wear the nose clips in their upcoming summer meets including the Arena Pro Series Meet taking place in Santa Clara.

“It gives me more freedom underwater. I really can’t imagine swimming without it at this point,” Holtzen said.

Want to try it out?

Tips from the Coaches

1. Talk to your coaches before trying the nose clip in practice.
2. Have a plan and stick with it. It will be difficult at first, but perseverance is key.
3. Give it a try! We haven’t seen any negative side effects, so you have nothing to lose!

16 Comments

16 comments

  1. Nicole Boylan

    Wisconsin article and Michigan cap? Really?

  2. Nicole Ruby

    Yeahhhh ?nose clips Steph Murray Emma Catherine

    • Ícaro CP

      Vinicius Scheuer Becker

  3. Suzanne Roat

    Been using one for over 20 years to reduce incident rate of sinus infections. So glad to hear I have been “in fashion”!!

  4. avatar
    Blake Ruiz

    i am a swimmer from Illinois, and we are not aloud by our clash to use nose plugs instead some of us just stop blowing the air out of our nose. It hurts at first but after awhile the pain is no longer present and it really does help conserve your oxygen.

  5. Gary Bill

    They’re the new snot meters.

Author: Brianna Hines

avatar
Brianna Hines is a sophomore graphic design major at University of Illinois at Chicago. She is Horizon League champion in both the 500 and 1650 freestyle. Hines was raised in Bloomington/Normal, Illinois and trained with the YMCA Waves Swim Club. She is currently a swim lessons instructor for Chicago Wolfpack Aquatics Club.

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