Nose plugs most often are seen worn by synchronized swimmers. Synchronized swimmers do complicated twists and turns in the water, which could lead to uncomfortable water in the nose if they aren't constantly carefully. By the same token, nose plugs can have a place with beginner swimmers who have not yet mastered the skill of holding their breath underwater. Still, learning to swim sans plugs is an important skill, so don't lean too heavily on your plugs unless they're for competitive purposes.
Nose plugs work by pinching shut your nostrils to avoid getting water in your nose. Even the most experienced swimmers are at risk for water in the nose during certain strokes, dives and tricks that cause an upside-down position where water could flow into the nose freely. Nose plugs are a helpful addition to an already established swimmer but should be removed during the learning period. While nose plugs can help you feel more confident in the water, they should not be a crutch to avoid learning proper swimming technique.
When learning to swim, your instructor might discourage you from using nose plugs in the water. One of the main precepts of learning to swim rests upon being about to properly blow water out of your nose so you needn't use nose plugs on a regular basis. Knowing how to properly hold your breath underwater can help increase confidence when swimming, allowing you to feel safer in and around water. Once the skill has been properly learned, plugs can be used for ease and comfort in the water.
Nose plugs generally are allowed by various swimming competitions, including synchronized swimming and individual events. This is because some of the strokes, particularly the backstroke, position the head so that water can enter the nose even when the head is not completely submerged. In synchronized swimming, twists, turns and underwater somersaults necessitate the need for nose plugs. If you want to wear nose plug for competitive purposes, check with the competition administration to ensure rules allow the use of nose plugs.
How to Wear Nose Plugs
Nose plugs are simple to wear and use. You'll want to keep you nose plugs clean by washing them with warm soapy water after each use and storing them in a small bag -- a plastic storage bag works well. To use the plug, pinch your nostrils together and gently pry open the arms of the plug. Place an arm on the outside of either nostril and release. You should not be able to breathe from your nose when your plugs are properly worn. If air escapes, reposition the plugs until you have complete coverage.