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Scuba Diving Basics: How To Conserve Air

December 4, 2016
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When scuba diving you’ll want to spend as much time as possible being underwater to get the most out of your experience. One of the things that will keep you down for longer is learning how to conserve air while diving, which will see you going through your oxygen less quickly.

As part of our scuba diving basics series here are some tips on how to conserve air while diving.

1. Less jerking, more gliding

Scuba diving basics 101: Moving around a lot and generally flailing about will use up more energy then you will by making slow, gentle movements. This is something your dive teacher will probably tell you in your open water course but now is the time to put it into action to help you dive for longer in your future dives.
So instead of turning by throwing your limbs around, learn to control your buoyancy and move with an air of underwater grace. Remember also that you don’t necessarily have to move your arms to get around, gently kick with your feet and use your body to maneuver around.

2. Slow it down

Try to slow your breathing rate but never, ever hold your breath! This is another scuba diving basic your instructor would have told you about. Faster, shallower breathing means you are consuming more air while diving so try to take deeper breaths to conserve your air, you’ll be able to do this more efficiently if you are relaxed.

 

3. Dive More Often

The more you dive the better you will become at conserving your air. This could be down to practice as well as because you’ll feel a lot more confident while diving, so practice often and you’ll find you’ll dive for longer and will improve in other diving related skills at the same time.

4. Dive higher

While I’m not suggesting you don’t get close to what you want to see consider diving in shallower waters when moving across something uninteresting. For example you may have to cross a sandbar to get to a reef, in which case you might not be missing much by swimming closer to the surface.

By moving in shallower waters you’ll be able to conserve more air while diving because you go through less air at shallow depths due to differences in pressures.

 

 

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Photo credit: Ilse Reijs and Jan-Noud Hutten. Text Added by Always Bubbles.

 

5. Don’t over weight yourself

Weighting yourself correctly can seem like an art form in the beginning but as soon as you get the swing of it you’ll be able to conserve more air as you wont have to inflate your BC as much to keep yourself from sinking. By having more air in your BC you’ll have to exert more effect to do simple tasks such as swimming, diving downwards and regaining neutral buoyancy.

6. Streamline yourself

Make sure any dangly parts are clipped in close to your person, by being more streamlined your glide better through the ocean instead of creating drag. This way you’ll save energy and you will be able to lower your air consumption.

Staying horizontal in the water will also help (as opposed to vertical) will also save you from extra exertion as there will be less resistance as you are swimming forwards. This is especially important if you are swimming into a current.

7. Keep Warm

If you are cold while diving you will consume more air through shivering. You can solve this by finding out about water temperatures beforehand (if able) or by choosing a thicker wetsuit. If you know you are susceptible to cold weather and do not have your own wetsuit tell your divemaster when trying on suits as they may be able to find a thicker suit for you.

8. Surface = Snorkel

Another scuba diving basic that you probably would have learnt somewhere in your course which needs to be re-emphasized. When swimming along the surface pre-dive consider using the snorkel instead of your regulator unless conditions are very rough. This will help you save more air for your time spent diving underwater.

 

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