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Save Your Breath

Dive Training: Save Your Breath


1. Think Slow

Water is some 800 times denser than air, and your speed is proportional to the square of the energy it takes to produce it. You already know how hard it is to wade across a swimming pool, even slowly. Doubling your speed requires about four times as much energy. Or turn that around: Wading across the pool half as fast takes one-fourth as much energy.

So go slow. Swim slow, turn slowly, reach slowly for your console–do everything in slow motion.

Several changes to your normal pattern will save energy and air, but swimming slowly is the obvious air-saver. Also, don’t forget to move your hands, arms, head and torso slowly. Unless you pay attention, you’ll try to make movements at “normal” speeds, which, having been learned in air, are too fast under water.

Ways To Go Slow

  • Duck currents.They’re usually weaker at the bottom or along a wall.
  • Use your hands.Where appropriate, pull yourself rock-to-rock, hand-over-hand, across the bottom. (Don’ttouchcoralandotherlivingthings, ofcourse.)
  • Stay warm.Your body burns calories and consumes oxygen to generate heat, so conserve it. Wear a hoodorbeanie, eveninwarmwater.
  • Make short fin strokes.Besides finning slowly, keep the strokes short. Wide fin strokes move a lot of water but give only a little more propulsion.
  • Get better fins.Some fins are more efficient at translating muscle power into movement. A good pair means you’ll kick with less effort, and less often.
  • Be physically fit.When even a slow speed is an all-out effort, you’ll burn more energy than a fit diver for whom the same speed is easier. The more fit you are the more energy-efficient (and air-efficient) you’ll be.


Ways To Reduce Drag

  • Clip your console and octopus close to your body.Keep as much gear as possible in the slipstream of your body.
  • Adjust hose routings.Choose different ports and shorter hoses to keep hoses close to your body. Just don’t make them so short they restrict your head movement or your ability to read your console.
  • Get a better BC.Look for the combination of fit and just the right amount of buoyancy. A BC that’s too large or has excess lift will create a surprising amount of drag. An oversized model will also tend to shift, throwing off proper trim.
  • Fin with short strokes.Not only are shortened fin kicks more efficient, they keep your fins inside your slipstream.
  • Keep your hands to your sides.
  • Hide your snorkel.Strap it to your calf, tuck it under your BC, put a foldable snorkel in a pocket, or leave it behind.
  • Put small accessories in BC pockets.Small objects like lights, whistles and safety sausages cause disproportionate amounts of drag when fluttering in the “breeze.”


Ways To Breathe Sleepy

  • Exhale completely.This reduces the “dead air” volume and eliminates as much carbon dioxide as possible, thus delaying the urge to take another breath.
  • Pause after inhaling.Use your diaphragm to hold air in your lungs a few extra seconds while keeping your throat open. This allows even more time for gas exchange. Your breathing pattern should be: Exhale, inhale, pause. Exhale, inhale, pause.
    Note: Every time we describe this breathing pattern, someone writes us, “Isn’t this skip breathing?” It’s not. Skip breathing involves holding your breath by closing your epiglottis (like when you grunt) and holding it for much longer. Closing your throat creates a closed air space that is vulnerable to embolism if you ascend. Keeping your throat open avoids that risk. Besides, skip breathing doesn’t work. Holding your breath too long means retaining too much carbon dioxide, triggering the urge to breathe sooner than necessary and resulting in rapid shallow breathing. The net result: You use more air by skip breathing, not less.
  • Buy a high-performance regulator.With the best models, considerable engineering has gone into reducing the work of breathing induced by the regulator itself.


“The team of Omega Divers in Chania can give’s you even more dive training information and tips for your best experience under water.”

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