Take a look at Instructor Danis’ latest article for the DJL Blog. It offers some great tips on improving air consumption when diving. It’s not only about what you do while you are in the water, other factors such as lifestyle and preparation before a dive are also important in helping you breathe underwater efficiently.
“Are you constantly finding you are turning your dives based on your air supply? fastest air consumption compared to your buddy’s on the boat? wanting to spend those extra few minutes with that turtle?
You may never have the best air consumption on the boat but you can have the most improved. Here are 10 helpful tips on improving air consumption which will give you longer dives safely.
Tips for improving air consumption
1. Fix the Small Leaks
You don’t think you have leaks? Do you have eyes in the back of your head? Your buddy is in a better positon to check some areas so it is better to ask them look behind you and check for leaks. A mask which doesn’t fit properly can also be classed as a leaky seal. Having to keep clearing a mask during a dive can be stressfull and blowing in air to clear the water can increase your rate of breathing and reduce efficiancy. Does your octo have a tendancy to easily free-flow? A great deal of air can be lost quickly when this occurs. Detune it or make sure it is mounted carefully so the mouthpiece points downward. All these small things can be really beneficial for improving air consumption.
2. Dive More
Inexperienced divers are well known to burn through their air at a faster rate than experienced divers. The main reason for this is nerves! Your body is getting ready for the ‘fight or flight’ feeling you get whilst being anxious about a situation. We all know diving is awesome, diving more is one of the best ways to reduce anxiety and confusion under water. Being more relaxed will help you to feel more confident, therefore improving air consumption.
3. Dive more/party less
Fatigue and weakness from a heavy night will cause your body and mind to work harder during a dive. This can cause your breathing to be heavier and less controlled. A well rested mind will communicate well with your body helping your air consumption to be more relaxed and controlled.
4. Be early
If you arrive for your boat exhausted from running around you will take this into your dive. Your body won’t have time to establish a comfortable breathing pattern before your dive. Prepare for your dive ahead of time, arrive well rested and start your dive relaxed
5. The energy cost of speed is even more than you might think
This is because it’s an exponential function which is proportional to the square of the speed. In laymans terms if you swim twice as fast as normal you will require four times as much energy and air. But the reverse is true, too: Swimming at half your usual speed will use a quarter of the amount of air.
6. It’s simple physics
When your regulator is delivering air it needs to be the same pressure as the water. A lungful at 10 metres is the equivalent to two atmospheres, therefore a diver will use 2 times as much from the tank compared to taking the same breath at the surface. The deeper you go the more air you consume per breath so stay shallower to avoid this.
7. Stay warm
Heat leaves the body 20 times faster in water than on the surface. This will make your body work harder to regulate temperature and even if you don’t realise your body is doing this you will be burning air through your body working harder. Stay warm to avoid this problem.
8. Breath deeply
Any oxygen from your gas mix that you don’t absorb into your bloodstream is a waste. Taking short shallow breaths will cause your body to build up carbon dioxide and your brain to think it’s panicking. This will cause your breathing to accelerate and cause you to burn through your air. Inhaling and exhaling deep breaths will help to maximise your oxygen absorption.
9. Adjust Your Trim
If your body is horizontal in the water, as you swim forward your head and shoulders will create a gap. If your legs and fins follow through the same gap it disturbs less water and saves the air and energy. Initially, many divers have a tendancy to swim in a more upright position. Instead of a horizontal “quarter to 3” postition as seen on a clock they are more diagonal at “twenty to 2”. Divers can counter this by moving some of their diving weights up to the their tank or BCD pockets instead of around their hips.
Another factor for divers with incorrect trim is if they are using too many weights. The additional weight can put extra pressure on the lower half of your body and this makes it more difficult to swim horizontaly creating less disturbance in the water.
10. Diving is fun and not a competitive sport
The more you treat it as a competition the more anxious your body will be and the more air you will burn and waste. Chill out, your air consumption may not be as good as your buddies but there are many ways to improve it. Improving air consumption will help you enjoy longer dives and your buddies will appreciate you trying to work harder on it.”
Safe and happy diving,
Davy Jones Locker