Cure for Fear of Snorkeling?

By Berrie – (Albany, GA)
Does anyone have a cure for fear of snorkeling?

As an avid boater I want to (in 2017) make the crossing from Florida to Bimini and Freeport. With the beautiful waters there snorkeling is something I would love to do.

Here’s my problem: As I sit here, I can easily hold my breath for 20 – 30 seconds, and with very little practice even longer than that. However, as soon as my mouth and nose are underwater (yes, even just barely with my eyes still above water) I can hold my breath for maybe a whole four seconds before panic forces my head out of the water.

Even with a snorkel, sitting on the steps of the pool, I cannot breathe or hold my breath as soon as my mouth and nose feel water.

What can I do to overcome this?

Thank you for any recommendations!

Comments Moved From Previous System

Maria – Nov 20, 2015 – Try in a Bathtub

I would start keeping my face under the shower with my mouth open. Then try it in the tub. You should try blowing the air out of your mouth while you are lowering your face into the water, then come up for air. Always keep your eyes open…

One bad mistake parents do is telling their children to keep their mouths closed when learning to swim.

Good luck.

Anonymous – Nov 20, 2015 – Build Skills First

Sounds less like an issue of fear of snorkeling and more a problem with overall lack of confidence in your ability in the water. Being or breathing underwater can be disconcerting and take time to get used to for anyone. Perhaps taking a series of swim lessons that focuses on gradual progression and confidence building would help. After all, learning not to panic while blowing bubbles with face in water is one of the most fundamental skills beginners learn after floating.

Good luck! I’m betting you can conquer this fear and open yourself up to an amazing underwater world.

Anne Johnson – Nov 20, 2015 – Fear of Snorkeling

I had a friend who became panicked after a snorkeling trip off of a boat. I took her to the shallow end of a pool and first had her blow bubbles, like we learned in swimming classes. Then I put her in a mask we had fitted to her and had her face in with the mask. We added a snorkel and when she was comfortable with that, she swam with it. The whole thing took different times in the pool for a day.

The next day she was happily off the ladder from our condo, in 15 foot deep water, snorkeling to her heart’s content. Now I can’t get her out of the water! I don’t know if it would work for you but it is worth a try.

Scott – Nov 20, 2015 – New Tech

Check out the Easybreath snorkeling masks. These center snorkel full face masks allow you to breathe through your nose or mouth.

Nicole & Galen – Nov 20, 2015 – Easybreath

The Easybreath snorkeling mask was mentioned. We wrote a full review page of this type of full face snorkeling mask on this page.

Sally in Seattle – Nov 20, 2015 – Sorry

I am sorry you have this issue. My suggestion is to look into meditation, it helps you realize that the feelings you have come and go and so this particular feeling will come and go as well. It helps you step back and be more objective when something happens.

I also suggest using a flotation device (even if you are a good swimmer). Your brain may be telling you that you are drowning, but if you have a snorkel vest or noodle, it might be reassured that you won’t.

Also, they make little surfboard type things with a viewing window if you find you just can’t put your face in the water.

Best wishes on your journey. I hope the joys of snorkeling will be open to you.

Arthur – Nov 20, 2015 – Horizontal

You didn’t mention whether or not you had the feeling of panic in the horizontal position or not. If you are vertical, your body sinks and small waves slap your face and you have no control. Get horizontal and float and relax and you will be able to propel or turn with your hands and feet. You will be like a cork in water.

Ellen – Nov 20, 2015 – So Worth It to Beat the Fear!

I have always had a fear of being in water that was over my head. This stems from a near drowning incident when I was five years old.

While my husband was diving one day on the Big Island Hawaii off of the Kona Coast and I was standing on a dock, I looked down into the water and could see brightly colored fish. I wanted to see them better so I put on a mask and just stuck my face into the water for a second. I was astounded at the beauty I was witnessing.

I wanted to see more of this beauty so I strapped on the snorkel and just started to look into the water and breathe through the snorkel. Emboldened by my success and enamored by the brightly colored fish swimming so near me, I added my swim vest (like a water skiing vest or fitted kayaker’s vest) and began to slowly float and breathe through the snorkel while keeping the edge of the dock close by. In no time I was venturing farther out from the dock.

Within a few days I added fins and was even enjoying having some gentle waves break over me as I snorkeled. I’ve never looked back!

DolphinDiva – Nov 20, 2015 – Wear Your Snorkel Around the House or Boat!

I learned this from a captain on a liveaboard boat in Bimini who teaches people who have never snorkeled to be at ease with it from day one, and then they go on to snorkel every day. It’s not at all about holding your breath, it’s about learning and trusting that you CAN breathe, fully and deeply, through your snorkel.

After personally fitting everyone’s masks and snorkels, he had the anxious people wear their snorkels as frequently as they could as they were going about their day OUTSIDE of the water. It might look silly, but it works. Because once the mind and body get it that “Wow, I can breathe in and out perfectly fine through this snorkel” while you do menial tasks in a relaxed state on land, then you can start practicing putting your face in the water. Then your mind and body will get it that you can breathe fine through the snorkel the same way you had been breathing fine through it on land.

Good luck!

Karen – Nov 23, 2015 – Float

I just returned from Cozumel and we have some family that is also scared. We saw a few individuals on rafts with someone walking beside them, holding them. This meant that basically their heads were underwater, but they could adjust how much of the rest of their body was. Some were on the raft sideways and some had only slightly inflated rafts. I believe this could be very helpful.

Snorkeling Fish – Nov 29, 2015 – How I Conquered My Fear

I was always scared of deep water, especially with some chop, so I was the last person to get off the snorkel boat my first time. I asked how deep the water was and almost backed out when he answered ‘about 40 feet here’.

He understood and told me to immediately float face down, breathe, and use my fins only (no arm strokes) and head straight to the shallow water at the shore. I was scared silly at first, breathing shallow fast breaths, but reached the shallow water and snorkeled parallel to the shoreline until I was comfortable enough that I really could breathe. I’ve been a Snorkeling Fish ever since.

My husband needed two additional items: (1) a large snorkel with a wider than normal tube to take in more air with every breath and (2) a self-inflatable snorkel vest or jacket for additional buoyancy because he is very thin.

Good luck! Keep trying – it is so worth it!

Ozma – Jun 4, 2019 – I Want to Snorkel – But I’m Afraid to: Suggestions

First panic attack: I snorkeled out from the shore. Then I turned around and panicked – the shore looked a mile away, and I’m not a very strong swimmer, and thought “I could drown”. That panic is still with me a bit. But I have some things that have helped.

1. I bought something I’d been given on a trip to the Galapagos: a self inflatable snorkel vest. It can be inflated just enough to help you float, but not interfere with being face down. The amount of air you put in can be released or increased. It’s bright, so I know people can see me. It’s a good security blanket.

2. I don’t go in alone, ever. I want someone with me so we can look out for each other. Going out alone is foolish at best. But I never go out with my kids, because I’m afraid something will happen to them, and the enjoyment disappears.

3. It is my opinion that you should avoid full face snorkel masks.

Worried Snorkeler – Aug 26, 2019 – Overcoming Fear of Snorkeling

I was never a confident swimmer, but also not afraid of the water. As a child I had experienced a near drowning incident that was buried deep within my psyche. Later as an adult, I happily snorkeled in Hawaii and the Caribbean, trusting that even as a weak swimmer, I was always going to float with snorkeling equipment.

Then, I found myself chasing a fish off the shore of Maui, when suddenly my mask began taking on water. As I treaded water, I realized I was far from the shore, maybe 1/2km. I began to panic, my heart racing. I began swimming toward the beach.

Around 400m from the beach, I encountered another snorkeler around 50m closer to the beach than I was, and asked him if the water was standing depth. His response: ‘no, it’s pretty deep’! He asked if I needed help, and I accepted, and he and I swam back to the shore. I benefited from my ability to calm myself down, and his presence was reassuring even if he could have done little to save me if I had a full on panic attack.

Since then, I’ve always had an irrational worry that water will enter my mask. I know that if it does, all I have to do is tread water and empty it, but still, it’s that worry that panic may set in. I now have children and am careful not to put the fear into them. When I snorkel with them, I always use a life vest. I’m still working slowly to overcome my fear, but I do snorkel and love it.

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