Breathe in…. Breathe Out…Breathe in… Breathe Out…Breathe in….and breathe out…
This is something you have been doing unconsciously since the day you were born, without ever giving it much thought, other than the time you went to ‘find yourself’ at the yoga retreat.
Suddenly though you turn up to Koh Tao to do your PADI Open Water, an instructor will help kit you up, and minutes later your breathing is very conspicuous. You may hear someone say the feeling should pass, but breath control underwater is the difference between a novice diver and an experienced diver.
If you are correctly weighted and neutrally buoyant in the water, how is it some people can make diving look so effortless, whereas when you begin it can be quite exhausting moving your body position to swim over things. The secret is something you have been doing all your life – breathing. Being able to work out how much air you need to inhale and exhale at any given point will turn you into a more competent diver.
So what tips can I give? Well the first is that your lungs are probably bigger than you think, and so at any given moment you are storing more air than you realize. As a little test breathe all the way out right now. Now without breathing in breathe out again. And again. See how much air is still in your lungs? Use this when you next go diving so you can sink quicker if you need to (please be careful of your ears while doing this!)
The next tip I can give you is in situations that require much greater buoyancy control (going through swim through, wreck diving) is you can breathe in stages. Try to get the feeling of filling your lungs up to a quarter, now a half, then two thirds, and now fill them up. By doing this you are controlling the rate at which you will ascend over something like a pinnacle. Now breathe out in stages. The trick here is to always allow a very small amount of air to be constantly being inhaled and exhaled to keep the airway open (remembering the first rule of diving) whilst not necessarily breathing all the air out at once. This way you are controlling your descent, just like you do on a fin pivot, and will start to look like a pro, achieving the second rule of diving, always look cool.
As a final little thing to practice which you can do on dive sites less than 18 metres, is as you descend to the bottom, try and control it so you stop vertical position just above the ground. To other divers around it will look as though you have landed on a glass table, and you’ll be looking like the next dynamo!
Koh Tao has loads of great places to practice buoyancy control, which in this bloggers opinion is mostly just breath control. If you would like further instruction after your Open Water, then sign up for your PADI Advanced Open Water course and your instructor will play loads of buoyancy games with you on the Peak Performance Bouyancy dive.
So there you are, a few tips for breath control. If that all sounds a bit much, just take a slow, deep breath.