This is a question we get a lot from students. When we compare how much air divers use, we're usually looking at someone who just started versus someone who has been diving for a long time. So, it's totally normal to see a difference!
New divers usually use more air, and that can happen for a few reasons. Your size can play a role in how much air you use, and there are some things you can do to help with that. Here are our few tricks to use less air:
1 Breathe slowly and deeply:
The key to saving air during scuba diving is mastering proper breathing techniques. Establishing a steady rhythm and taking longer, deeper breaths enhances your body's oxygen absorption. Exhaling fully reduces 'dead air' volume and eliminates Carbon Dioxide, delaying the urge for another breath. Obviously, never hold your breath or overexpand your lungs; instead, pause for one second after each breath to allow fresh oxygen in, creating a smooth breathing pattern. Practice slow and deep breathing on the surface to improve air conservation during scuba dives.
2 Be weighted properly:
Making sure you've got the right amount of weight is super important. Carrying extra weight underwater just makes things harder. That's why doing a buoyancy check before every dive is a must-do.
Follow these PADI Buoyancy Check steps:
- Have your scuba mask on your face.
- Put your regulator in your mouth.
- On the surface, let all the air out of your BCD while holding a full breath (it's okay to hold your breath at the surface, but never do it underwater).
- With your BCD deflated and holding a full breath, you should float at eye level.
Keep in mind that your scuba cylinder is heavier before the dive than after. It also depends on whether you're using a steel tank or aluminum tank. Some folks like to do a second buoyancy check after the dive when the cylinder is almost empty. Give different styles a try to see what works best for you!
3 Work on your buoyancy:
Buoyancy control is key. Maintaining a trim position, using your BCD effectively, and making small adjustments to buoyancy with minimal air usage all contribute to reducing air consumption. If you're always pumping air into your BCD, you're left with less air to breathe! Plus, if you're using up lots of energy to go down or keep off the bottom, you'll get tired quickly and end up breathing more. So, nailing that buoyancy control is a game-changer for saving your air.
4 Slow down and relax:
Just like the old tale says, slow and steady is the way to go! Remember, scuba diving is all about leisure, not a race. Trying to double your speed can lead to using about four times the energy, resulting in increased air consumption. To save air when scuba diving, kick back, relax, and swim at your own pace. Avoid excessive kicking and using your hands—just enjoy the underwater journey without the rush!
5 Keep warm:
Heat is energy, and your body relies on metabolism to replace this energy, utilizing oxygen in the process. Diving in colder conditions can lead to stress and fatigue, both of which contribute to depleting your air supply. In Koh Tao, we are fortunate to dive in warm, very warm temperatures! However, the sensation of cold can be subjective and varies significantly from person to person. Don't hesitate to be the person diving with an extra layer if it ensures your comfort, and help you save bars!
6 Practice makes it perfect:
Experience plays a significant role in mastering buoyancy and reducing air consumption. Regular diving allows you to become more comfortable underwater, making tasks, including air conservation, more effortless over time. Just like any skill, the more you dive, the more proficient you become.
Your PADI instructor's seemingly Jedi-like buoyancy mastery comes from experience, and as you clock more dives, air conservation will naturally become second nature to you. So, dive, dive, dive, and consider enrolling in the PADI Peak Performance Buoyancy Specialty Course to level up your skills!