Q: How is sex a lot like air?
A: Because it’s not a big deal unless you’re not getting any……
Now that I’ve got your attention, let’s talk about air consumption.
Many new divers ask the same question almost as soon as the surface. ‘How much air have you got left’ and are dismayed to find their buddy, who is probably more experienced, has completed his dive with 50 bar more and thus a fixation with consuming less air often begins.
That’s not necessarily a bad thing but your dive shouldn’t just be about air. To lessen your air consumption you first have to understand what makes you use more air, so let me pass on a few tips to help you breathe more easily!
When underwater almost everything you do should be in slow motion.
Why? Because water is around 800 times denser than air so movements under water require more energy and more energy requires more air. As far as possible, minimise using your hands to swim underwater – this also lessens the chance of you ending up with your buddy’s mask and/or regulator in your hand.
Move slowly through the water, excessive fin kicking using excessive air and you might just swim too quickly to see interesting stuff.
Stay warm; even in the warm Caribbean waters off Las Galeras you can still get chilled, so wear a rashguard or t shirt at the least.
Streamline yourself, dangling consoles and gauges produce drag – and might harm corals when you swim over reefs – so make sure everything is secure and nothing is hanging down. Aim to be like a dolphin, slim, streamlined and looking good.
Keep your fin strokes short, this was means your legs and feet stay inside the slipstream created by your head and torso so you use less energy and less air.
Consider your weights, you want to be neutrally buoyant otherwise you will find yourself having to fin harder to maintain position or you’ll be using your inflator hose too often which results in? Yep, more air used.
Think about your actual breathing. Are you a very long, very deep inhaler and exhale or are you the short sharp breather? Either way, you should aim to breathe a little deeper and slower than normal
Finally, the best ways to use less air when diving is to dive often and don’t worry too much if your buddy still has more air at the end of the dive. It could just be that he or she is a little smaller than you or you were ‘task ‘loading’ yourself by using a camera or maybe yur pressure gauges isn’t 100 percent accurate. The important point to remember about air consumption is that provided you finish your dive with sufficient air , then you haven’t used too much!