Do you ever wish you could get an extra 5 minutes underwater when you go scuba diving?
When I was learning my PADI Open Water here in Koh Tao Thailand I always seemed to be the first member of my group running low on air. However, after listening to some tips and tricks from the great staff here at Crystal Dive, I was soon extending my dive times.
#1 – Buoyancy & Weighting
As we know the key to becoming a scuba diver, is to master neutral buoyancy allowing you to glide through the water effortlessly. The trick to becoming neutrally buoyant is to add small amounts of air at a time and use your breathing to make small adjustments. Don’t be reliant on your BCD’s inflate and deflate button, this should be used to a minimum. Make sure you think about trim before the dive, tucking away any hoses and not wearing any unnecessary items.
Perform a buoyancy check on yourself before a dive if it has been a while since you went scuba diving or you are diving in unfamiliar equipment. Having too many weights on will cause your body to hang downwards meaning it’s harder to swim. Also being underweighted can mean you use more effort in swimming down combating your positive buoyancy during the dive. Both will have the same effect of you having to use more energy.
Once you have your weighting correct you will be able to get your body into a nice streamlined/trimmed position. I always think of it as head down, bum up and head up position; this will give you a straight back and have you look like a pro.
#2 – Equipment
Basically you need the right tools for the job. You need scuba diving equipment that is the correct fit. Equipment that is too big means you will be bulky and won’t be streamlined. Scuba equipment that is too small can be restrictive and make it uncomfortable while diving, affecting your breathing.
Owning your own dive equipment your best option. Purchasing equipment on Koh Tao is a good idea due to the many well known brands, expert advice on hand and attractive discounts offered.
Koh Tao weather is good year round with water temperature between 26-30 degrees. You don’t have to wear bulky wetsuits and often a simple rash guard is more than ample.
#3 – Relax
A lot of air can be saved by just slowing down and not charging around a dive site – Swim slowly!
Going for a dive should be like going for a walk in the park. Making slow movements and not using your arms for propulsion will make you look a lot cooler. Consider your breathing patterns; consciously thinking about slowing down your breathing rate will again add time to a dive. You should have a nice slow deep breath, when exhaling make it a trickle of air not a big blow out, a little tip could be to count to 5 as you exhale.
Plan your dive; if you have a good idea of what you are about to do it will reduce anxiety before a dive, which will in turn decrease stress giving a calmer breathing rate. The PADI Underwater Navigation Specialty courseis designed to gives a better idea of how get around a dive site.
Here at Crystal Dive fun dives are lead by professional Divemasters who have knowledge about the dive sites meaning you can just sit back, realx and enjoy the marine life while they guide.
#4 – Improve Your Skills
Taking PADI continuing education courses is going to enhance your diving experiences and improve your air consumption drastically. PADI have a course that is aimed at improving your buoyancy and breathing technique – The PADI Peak Performance Buoyancy Specialty course (PPB).
I took the PPB Adventure dive as part of my PADI Advanced Open Water course. I found it improved my air consumption rate 10 fold. During these dives you learn to perfect your “hover” which you originally learned during your PADI Open Water course and also how to kick more efficiently. When scuba diving on Koh Tao we have a dive site aimed specifically towards this dive, conveniently named Buoyancy world.
#5 – Dive More!
The more you dive the better your buoyancy will become, the more familiar your equipment will be and the more relaxed you will be. You will want to challenge yourself to improve your skills even more.
Nothing is going to improve your air consumption more than getting out there and getting wet.
Koh Tao has 20 + dive sites (with more being artificial sites mooted) local to the island, so it is very easy to come and spend some time getting your dive numbers up.
So next time you are creating bubbles, whether here in Thailand or elsewhere, try some of these tips and tricks and you’ll be sure to get your extra 5 minutes underwater.
Author: Neil Davidson (PADI MSDT #294100)