No, this does not mean ditch your dive buddy! This means you should be prepared to handle an emergency alone. If things suddenly went crazy underwater and your dive buddy either panicked or was otherwise unable to help you, you should always be prepared to react appropriately and quickly instead of relying on others.
This means you should go over in your mind and even practice underwater in controlled conditions what you should do if suddenly you had an equipment failure, an injury, sudden illness or other unforeseen event. By rehearsing, you’ll be better prepared to stay calm and act appropriately in an emergency.
Yes, of course you know how to swim, otherwise you never would have passed your certification course! What I mean is swimming underwater laden with scuba gear while being neutrally buoyant is different than stroking across the surface of a pool or open water in your swimsuit. On the surface, your arms play an important role but underwater, your arms need to “chillax.”
Good divers rarely stroke with their arms unless they really need to move or fight a current. You should only use your arms to make minor adjustments; otherwise you’ll chew through your air faster because you’re burning more calories. Not to mention all that flailing around will scare off any nearby marine life!
Many beginning swimmers and divers kick with only the bottom half of their legs, bending at the knee. Not only does this cause a ridiculous amount of splashing on the surface, it’s highly inefficient on the surface and underwater.
You probably learned the “flutter kick” in your cert course, which means using your whole leg, originating at the hip and keeping your leg fairly straight. This is a powerful kick but it can be fatiguing as well as impractical in tight situations. Most advanced divers used a modified version of this kick for the majority of their time underwater, where the knees are slightly bent and the kicks are gentle.
Yes, breathe but don’t just breathe. On land we tend to inhale, exhale, and then pause before inhaling again. Underwater, you should reverse this. Inhale, pause, and then exhale — this allows your lungs extra time to take in more oxygen and offload more carbon dioxide. This DOES NOT mean hold your breath! Advanced divers learn to breathe like this but you might not have learned this in your beginner course because it can be confused with holding your breath.
You should be able to make minor depth changes, e.g., four or five feet, by inhaling or exhaling in normal conditions. If you’re constantly adding or releasing air from your BCD, you’ll end up like an underwater yo-yo. This wastes air and makes it harder to achieve neutral buoyancy. Obviously, you’ll need to inflate or deflate your BCD at times, but wait a few moments after you adjust since everything takes a little longer underwater.
Speaking of BCDS, do you need one or to replace the one you bought when Clinton was president? Check out our online inventory of BCDs at Scuba Toys, or if you live the Dallas area, stop by the shop and try some on! We have a variety of BCDs for every body size and shape.
Any other tips you can share with our readers about how to become a better diver? Let us know in the comments section below!
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