Everyone wants dives to last as long as possible. After all, the underwater world is amazing, and the more time we can spend down there, the better. But, every body is different, and because of that, every person consumes air at a different rate.
Still, there are multiple things you can do to improve your air consumption after your Open Water Diver course. Keep reading for one diver’s tips.
1. Want to make your tank last longer? Then dive, dive, dive. The more you dive, the more you become comfortable underwater, and this improves your air consumption.
2. Fidgeting underwater will only make you use more air than needed. Let yourself float and go with the flow. Move your fins only when needed. You’ll last longer underwater by staying stiller.
3. If you can’t get yourself to relax underwater, look for a strategic spot where you can stop moving and just take in the beauty of the marine habitat surrounding you. As you get enticed by the splendor of the deep sea, you’ll start feeling more relaxed, reducing your air consumption.
4. When you’re diving, the worst thing you can do is take short, shallow breaths. Think yoga and breathe slowly and deeply on both the inhale and exhale. Practice this at home to get used to this kind of deep breathing. Just remember what you learned at scuba school: Never hold your breath!
5. Learning to be neutrally buoyant is a skill that takes a lot of practice, but the pay off is huge. In the ideal scenario, you are staying level at the safety stop with about 500 psi (50 bar) in your tank and no air in your BCD (Buoyancy Control Device). If you are struggling to stay at the desired depth because you’re not properly weighted — letting air in and out of the BCD — you’re obviously not conserving any air. Consider enrolling in the PADI Peak Performance Buoyancy specialty course to perfect your technique.
6. A simple way to improve air consumption is to reduce leaks. Check your o-rings, inflater hose, and connection points. Pack a save-a-dive kit in case you find anything faulty while you’re out on a dive trip.
7. You can decrease resistance while swimming by making sure you maintain a horizontal position. This allows you to reduce air consumption. The more vertical you are, the more air you will inevitably consume. If you are having difficulty staying horizontal, adjust the position of your weights, tank and BCD.
8. If you frequently find yourself in a vertical position, check that you are not overweighted, which results in your hips being drawn down. Try carrying out the weight check you learned on your Open Water Diver course. Another indication of overweighting is if you still require air in your BCD when making your safety stop at 5 meters (16 feet) with just 500 psi (50 bar) in your tank.
9. If you’re worried your dive will be short, try to stay shallower. You can always move up a few feet to use less air.
10. This might seem like common sense, but, while diving, take the time to slow down, relax and enjoy the experience. In order to improve air consumption, avoid darting about.
11. Don’t let any of your accessories dangle from your gear setup. This creates drag and will increase air consumption as you work harder to move through the water column.
12. If you are diving in current, position yourself as close to the reef as possible (without touching it). The current significantly decreases the closer you are to the reef. If you are out in the blue, the current will be stronger, and you’ll use more air while trying to maintain your position.
13. Use underwater features as ‘shelter’. If you are expending energy swimming in current, look for features on the reef that you can swim behind to take shelter. A coral bommie is ideal to position yourself next to, take a break, and watch the action pass by! For more tips on drift diving and air consumption, consider enrolling in the PADI Drift Diver specialty course.
14. Maintain buddy contact and awareness. Stress and swimming are two things that will increase your air consumption. There is nothing more stressful than thinking you have lost your buddy and swimming around trying to relocate them!
Are you ready to book your next dive trip and put these tips to use underwater? Check out amazing scuba diving destinations, dive centers, resorts, and liveaboards on PADI Travel!
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This blog was originally written by Jacki Hutchings and published on the Diviac Magazine.