Swimming: How to swim with a snorkel and why you should

Discover all the benefits of using a swim snorkel as well as our top 6 exercises.

Swimming: How to swim with a snorkel and why you should

Feeling out of breath with every length, poor alignment interfering with your glide, concentrating on your breathing rather than your technique… These issues can be resolved with the use of a single accessory: the swim snorkel. How? I hear you ask. Keep reading, I'll explain everything in this article!


First of all, let's take a look at the 4 key benefits of using a swim snorkel when training.

1. Improve your swimming technique and your propulsion

Using a front snorkel while swimming firstly helps improve your swimming technique. This is because when you swim, you may find yourself focusing on your breathing and not on what the rest of your body is doing. This will have an effect on your movements, your alignment, and you may find yourself slipping into bad swimming habits. By using a swim snorkel, you will no longer have this problem because you will be able to forget about your breathing technique and fully focus on your swimming technique. You no longer need to worry about your breathing pattern or head movements! You will in turn be able to more easily perceive any imbalances in your body and become aware of the points to improve in your swimming technique. Body position, alignment, catch, kick, pull, synchronisation… All of these small technical details can be identified and improved. As such, focusing on your movements allows you to perfect your swimming technique and, consequently, to improve your propulsion and efficiency.

Swimming: How to swim with a snorkel and why you should

2. Correct your alignment and optimise your glide

A front snorkel will allow you to work on your alignment. Not needing to move your head in order to breathe allows you to reduce drag in the water as you move forward, and therefore glide better. You are facing and looking at the bottom of the pool and your head remains in line with your body. This hydrodynamic position is more horizontal and more streamlined, therefore making you glide better!

In addition to your alignment, you will also be working on your balance, aiming to stay horizontal without any part of you sinking. By focusing on your movements, you will be able to detect, for example, excessive roll in the shoulders when swimming front crawl, causing an imbalance. The latter can be corrected, and your glide optimised. ;)

3. Breathe at your own pace

Another benefit of swimming with a snorkel is that it lets you breathe at your own pace. This can allow you to release any pressure caused by focusing on your breathing. You don't need to think about which side to breathe on or how often, or worry about breathing without swallowing water or think about your head movement. Added to this is the tension that can be caused by breathing or the risks caused by poor technique, especially for beginners. With a snorkel, you can breathe when you want, how you want!

4. Increase lung capacity

Working a snorkel into your swim training will also help you improve your lung capacity! Breathing through a snorkel does not come naturally; it is not a normal way of breathing and it takes time to get used to it. You will therefore first have to focus on calming your breathing. Once you get used to it, you won't even notice that you are breathing through a snorkel! This breathing technique will improve your lung capacity as well as calming your breathing. You will feel the benefits when you go back to a full stroke without any accessories, but also when exercising out of the water.


There are two main types of snorkels: swim snorkels (also called front snorkels or centre snorkels) and diving snorkels. These two pieces of equipment are not used under the same sporting conditions and do not have the same characteristics. A swim snorkel is worn on your forehead, whereas a diving snorkel sits on your temples, on the right or on the left.

For practical reasons, a front snorkel is recommended for swimmers as it is specifically designed for swimming. This is because a regular diving snorkel is worn on the side of your head, causing a counterproductive imbalance in terms of glide, whereas a swim snorkel provides very good stability. It will also be much easier for you to perform your movements, especially the crawl, with a swim snorkel that does not get in your way.

Swimming: How to swim with a snorkel and why you should
Swimming: How to swim with a snorkel and why you should


Using a front snorkel when swimming is recommended for all swimmers wanting to improve their swimming technique.

As such, it is mainly used by intermediate swimmers. However, beginner swimmers with a good grasp of the basics of swimming and wanting to improve their skills can integrate a snorkel into their swimming sessions. A snorkel is not recommended at the learning-to-swim stage, but it can come into play as soon as you reach stage of perfecting your skills.

It is also popular with triathletes during their swim training because it not only helps improve their technique but also helps them learn to calm their breathing (which can be very useful with the stress of the starting block).


How to put on a swim snorkel

First, let me give you a practical tip: put on your swimming goggles (or mask) before your snorkel. Then simply start by putting your mouth on the mouthpiece of the snorkel and biting lightly to hold the mouthpiece in place. Next, grab the head straps and put them over your head. Once the snorkel is properly positioned, you just have to adjust the head straps to fit your head. There you go, it's quite simple really!

How to breathe through a swim snorkel

Let me digress and get technical for a moment: swimming with a snorkel makes you swim in hypoxia. Due to the diameter of the snorkel, you are bound to breathe in less air than when breathing normally. Therefore, the faster the pace of your swim, the more you will get out of breath. So it is important to go at your own pace. It takes time to learn to use this piece of swimming equipment. Take it easy during your first few sessions, they should not be too long or too intense; this is the best way to gradually get used to the discipline.

With a swim snorkel, you inhale through your mouth and exhale through your nose. This way of breathing may not feel natural, I'll give you that (especially with your head in the water), but let me reassure you right away, with a little perseverance, anything is possible ;)

One piece of advice: if you are finding it hard to breathe out through your nose at first and water tends to get into your nose when you try to breathe out, you can use a nose clip and breathe out through your mouth while you get used to it!

Swimming: How to swim with a snorkel and why you should


Check out our selection of exercises you can perform with a swim snorkel!

1. Full stroke

Firstly, you can, of course, use a swim snorkel during full stroke drills. Whether you are looking for an endurance or speed workout, a snorkel will allow you to "forget" about your breathing, giving you time to focus on perfecting your stroke.