Scuba breathing technique directly impacts how long your air lasts while you’re underwater. And your skill at buoyancy control goes a long way in helping you master how you breathe while you’re scuba diving.
The faster you breathe the less time you have to enjoy the aquatic environment. When your breathing is controlled, smooth, and slow, you get to dive longer. And the longer you dive the more stuff you get to see.
When divers go through their certification courses they get basic instruction on how to breathe underwater – which is much different than breathing air from a Honeywell 18155 in your home. The first thing they hear, and one of the most important lessons they get, is “Never stop breathing while you’re diving. Never hold your breath on scuba gear.” It’s a health safety thing. Holding your breath on a dive threatens damage to your lungs, and sometimes death.
After certification the diver is on his own to figure out the best method for his own diving activities. Most new divers burn through their air supply like a tornado rips through a trailer park.
Those first dives often last no longer than forty minutes or so.
To get more time underwater, determined divers study breathing techniques. With enough study the diver finds a breathing style that fits well with his diving style, and body composition.
Once a diver finds his best scuba breathing technique the next step is to practice that technique until it becomes a habit. The diver’s goal is to turn the method of breathing into a personal habit. Then he automatically transitions to breathing that way every time he starts putting on his dive equipment.
But other elements affect the breathing habit, no matter how strong it becomes. Those include dive site conditions, how the diver feels, the diver’s state of mind, and the diver’s buoyancy control skills.
You always know a diver who has experience. You see it in the various skills each diver exhibits. A diver skilled in buoyancy control seems to glide easily along at one depth level. He gently rises and falls mere inches as he breathes in and exhales. Inexperienced divers bounce all over the place.
When a diver floats along with a gentle rise and fall to his finning progress he stays in a relaxed state. He breathes easily. His breathing habit rules, and the diver doesn’t even notice it.
The diver who has no control over buoyancy fights for position in the water during the whole dive. He or she may even have to use an inversion table to stretch out their back once they’re done.
His position in the water changes by measurements in feet rather than inches every time he breathes in or out. He bangs into the coral – killing it. He soars upward – risking dive related injury.
All that struggling makes the diver forget about how he breathes. His breathing cycles are fast, and shallow. The air in his tank disappears quick, leaving him with a too short dive.
It’s important to find the scuba breathing technique that works best for you while you’re diving. But if you don’t master your buoyancy control skills, making breathing technique a habit does you little good underwater.