It’s not uncommon for divers to use more of their air supply as they learn the intricacies of buoyancy control and general technique, but if you find yourself using a lot of air after you’ve had more experience, there are a few things you can do to fine tune. Just a few physical and mental adjustments before and during a dive can significantly improve your air consumption, so you never have to worry about running low on air. Best of all, they are each easy to remember so you practice what you learn on every dive!
Reduce Excess Drag
Water provides natural resistance to the body, which is great when doing laps in the pool for exercise, but not so great when trying to conserve energy and control breathing while diving. Reducing drag helps lower that resistance, which in turn lowers your respiratory rate. Basics like tucking in your octopus, gauges, and hoses, keeping your hands in front of or close to your body, and wearing a BCD that fits properly will significantly reduce your drag in the water and help you improve your air consumption.
The slower you move in the water, the slower your breathing rate will be — it’s not rocket science. Your movement in the water should be minimal, not flailing with your arms or kicking furiously, ultimately increasing your air consumption. Keep each fin stroke short whenever possible, as a wide stroke expends a lot more energy.
Be conscious of your breathing underwater. It sounds intuitive, but the various tasks undertaken during a dive can interrupt your normal rhythm and change your breathing without you noticing. Take slow and complete deep breaths, exhaling completely before inhaling — do not skip breathe as a way to save air. A high quality regulator can also help make breathing more comfortable and easy to control.
Image via Tim Sheerman-Chase