One issue that many beginning divers struggle with is how to make their scuba air last longer so they can stay underwater, and enjoy the sights of the reef.
The length of time that a tank of air lasts depends on a number of things, including physical, psychological, and biological. Certain practices in preparation during your surface time, and concentration before each dive go a long way to increasing your ability to conserve air – and dive longer.
Some of the things you can work on to help increase your dive time include:
Proper scuba equipment selection.
Dive profile trim.
Personal health, and physique.
Frame of mind.
Keeping these in mind not only when you’re in the water, but also when you aren’t diving will improve your skill at making your scuba air last much longer.
Manufacturers of scuba equipment design each model to perform in a different way. Understanding your own diving style, and knowing how you want each piece of gear to perform helps you select the right equipment.
One example of how a piece of gear effects your air consumption is the buoyancy control device (BCD). As you dive different depths you need different levels of buoyancy. To adjust for the buoyancy for each depth you add or release air from the bladders attached to your BCD. When you add more air you extend the bladders, which in turn widens your dive profile. The wider your profile the more exertion necessary to move through the water.
The more you exert yourself, the quicker you tire. When you get tired you start breathing faster, and drain your tank faster.
The need for more or less buoyancy also depends on your weight selection. Every diver wears a certain amount of weight to adjust for the body’s natural tendency to float. The goal is to select the right amount of weight to make yourself neutrally buoyant so you don’t ascend or descend unintentionally while diving. Too often divers overweight themselves, making them constantly inflate their BCD, and extend their profile.
Other items of gear that effect the profile are dive lights, gauge consoles, note slates – any piece of gear that hangs from the BCD. Each item increases the profile, and makes you kick harder. Try to keep your dive accessories in a BCD pocket, or secured very close to the body.
Most divers with larger bodies breathe air faster than those with smaller bodies. Also, your overall health effects your breathing rates. A major tactic in conserving scuba air is to maintain your health and physique. If you aren’t feeling well before a dive you should consider canceling the dive. A cold or flu increases your air consumption, and they’ll potentially put you in a life threatening situation. Health issues are distractions, and underwater your life depends on focus.
Every time you dive you’re entering an atmosphere that’s foreign and strange. If this makes you nervous or anxious you’ll suck air from that tank like fans push it through a wind tunnel. Before you jump in take a little meditation time to calm your thoughts. You’ll be more composed when you enter the water.
Breathing techniques go a long way to making that air go further. During dive certification classes each diver learns to breathe slow and deep. Sometimes it’s a lesson we forget for a while after we first start diving. Find a breathing technique that works well for you, and practice it often when you aren’t diving. Before your dive, and during your pre-dive meditation session, adjust into your preferred breathing technique.
These are just a few tips for making your scuba air last longer. For some more articles about conserving scuba air visit http://scubadivingunderwaterblog.com, and hover over the menu item: “Articles About Saving Scuba Air And Making Dives Last Longer.”