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Swimming with nose clips: what are the advantages of using them and which are the best nose clips to try?

Struggle with your breathing in front crawl and wondering whether to try a nose clip? Oliver Willis explains the pros and cons

We explain the advantages and disadvantages of swimming with a nose clip. Credit: FRANCOIS XAVIER MARIT/AFP/Getty Images

Using a nose clip while swimming is really down to personal preference. Some elite swimmers choose to wear them because it allows them to stop water going up their noses and can help them to have a more effective underwater phase.

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The same approach applies to any stroke, and nose clips can be a helpful tool if you’re struggling to breathe while training and racing as it can be a good way to provide a more efficient oxygen intake. Many argue that they don’t do anything for your street cred and that might be right, but who cares if you end up popping out a new swim PB?!

Why do swimmers wear nose clips?

The main advantage of wearing a nose clip swimming is that it prevents water travelling up the nose during all strokes, allowing you to focus on solely breathing through your mouth. They can also help alleviate any allergic reactions to chlorine and prevent developing pesky sinus infections.

Do Olympic swimmers wear nose clips? 

Even the cream of the crop suffer from water up the nose. You’ll often see elite and Olympic swimmers wearing nose clips to avoid water ingress and ingesting too much chlorine.

Clips also encourage more efficient breathing and can help swimmers hold their breath underwater when they do dolphin kick. Backstrokers in particular can benefit from them; 2012 Olympic 200m backstroke gold medallist Tyler Clary used a nose clip, for example. As did backstroke specialist, and five-time Olympic swim gold medallist, Missy Franklin.

Best nose clips for swimming  

Look out for durable nose clips that don’t look like they’ll break after your first session. Key features to go for are soft, silicone nose pads to avoid uncomfortable pinching and bruising on the nose, and a strong clip that doesn’t easily stretch out of shape.

Some like to sport clips that are the same colour as their skin tone for a more discreet look. Here’s a selection of some of the top nose clips for you to choose from:

Speedo Competition Nose Clip 

For those with fair skin, this nose clip shouldn’t stand out when on and is a great option for a more discreet look. It has soft silicone pads and comes with a reuseable case so you don’t lose them.

Aquasphere Aquastop Nose Clip 

Complete with a clear carry case to keep them safe, the Aquastop nose clip is made from soft silicone pads and claims to have an ergonomic design, equalling comfort in the water.

Nike Training Aids Nose Clip 

Part of the Nike ‘Training aids’ range, this nose clip has a low profile and an ‘engineered design’ which aims to prevent pressure building on the bridge of the nose. Soft silicone pads should help make the clips comfortable when in use.

Arena Nose Clip Pro 

This popular nose clip from Arena comes in three colours – black, pink and blue – so you can even match your swimsuit and hat to your clips if that’s your jam. The clip design uses ‘an organically shaped memory plastic frame’ for a more personalised and comfortable fit.

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Zoggs Nose Clip 

Prone to misplacing your nose clips at the pool or around the house? These Zoggs clips come in a pack of six, so you’ll never be without a pair. They’re also made from clear flexible plastic and have silicone pads for comfort, in a ‘one size fits all’ design.