Extend Your Scuba Dives
Ah, endless scuba dives… No matter what type of scuba diving we do, it’s every scuba diver’s goal to remain underwater as long as possible. While we can’t become mer-people and breathe underwater forever (at least so far), there are some techniques and tools you can use to safely extend bottom time and stay down longer on each scuba dive.
- Relax and breathe normally both on the surface and underwater. On descent, try to exhale all the air from your lungs and any tension from the rest of you. Get underwater quickly, where scuba equipment is more comfortable and easier to manage. Swim slowly and enjoy the scenery to make your air last longer. Scuba diving should not be a speed sport.
- Fine-tune your weight system so that adjusting your buoyancy will be effortless. When weighted properly and holding a normal breath, you should float at eye level. Then when you relax and exhale completely, making sure you’ve emptied all the air out of both your BCD and your lungs, you should sink slowly below the surface.
- When adjusting your buoyancy, go easy on your BCD inflator. Use short bursts of air, taking a few normal breaths between each burst to check your progress before adding more. Proper weighting reduces how much you need to add and release. Constantly adding and dumping air from your BCD because you're over-weighted will make a big dent in your air supply.
- Practice the fin pivot and other neutral buoyancy techniques from the Peak Performance Buoyancy specialty course. When you can remain neutral with nearly no effort, you’re relaxed and your air will go a lot farther.
- Save energy and decrease drag. Swim with your arms by your side and concentrate on slow smooth kick strokes originating at your hips. This peak performance buoyancy technique will keep you streamlined underwater and let your scuba fins do the work. This way, you’ll conserve more energy and use less air.
- Breathe Enriched Air Nitrox instead of air. EANx contains less nitrogen and a higher concentration of oxygen. By using special enriched air dive tables or dive computers your scuba dives can last a lot longer, particularly at depths less than 100 feet.
- Limit multitasking. If you’re trying to enjoy a scuba dive, take pictures and make notes to help you identify fish all at the same time, chances are good your air consumption will go up. Pick one activity to enjoy per scuba dive to get the most bottom time.
- Stay shallower when you can. Since we’re under greater pressure the deeper we go, we use more air with each breath from our scuba tanks when we're deeper. By spending most of your scuba time at shallower depths, you extend your dive because your air supply lasts longer. Even hanging out a few feet above the group on a wall dive, for instance, can help you stay down longer.
- Stay fit. Stop smoking and stay fit with a proper training program that includes cardiovascular and weight training exercise. When your respiratory and cardiovascular systems are in top form, your body works more efficiently and that translates to better air use and more bottom time.