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Hi Everyone I am new to this sport (just got OW certified) and I already love it, even if my buoyancy sucks...but I'll keep practicing for sure..I love these forums, they are so very helpful and I know I can get some pretty good advice here
So here goes my question. I'm a girl, 5'4", 122lbs. I would say that I'm faily athletic but of course still has a normal girl's physique (chest, hips...whatever you call them). Anyway, I've done 5 dives so far and I know I've been overweighted in every single one of them and when I cut down on the weight, I cannot sink! Here's the details, maybe you can help me. Oh, and before I forget, I dove in Catalina California (Cold!).
Dive 1 & 2: I had 26 lbs. I was soooo tired and it seemed like I had to fully inflate my bc for me to be able to start swimming. So heavy I wore a 7mm full suit with a 5mm vest and hood and booties. I had a steel tank.
For the following dives, I had an aluminum tank.
Dive 3: I tried going with 20lbs at first but I couldn't sink. Was wearing the same 7mm full suit with 5mm vest and my booties. I was also wearing ankle weights because I had trouble with my fins floating up on my previous dives. I couldn't sink at all with the 20lbs in my quick release so the instructor had to give me 5lbs more. I was able to go down, but I know I was too heavy again because I feel like I drag myself when I start swimming.
Dive 4: Same as above, but with 24lbs instead.
Dive 5: I was really tired of all the weight! My instructor told me to try and go with 20lbs. This time I didn't wear my vest and hood (so I should be less buoyant, right?) but still had my ankle weights (about 2-4 lbs each) and was able to descend with no problem. I was so happy that my swimming was better because of the lesser weight I wore. My problem now is that I didn't wear my vest and hood so I got a little cold.
Can you guys please give me some advice on this dilemma? It's really hard for me to sink and to carry 20+lbs with my 122lb frame. I'd like to keep wearing my 7mm fullsuit and my vest and hood as well as I don't want to be cold. Please help me get properly weighted Advise please!
Hi, I'm a cold water dive master and i know there is more difficult to keep neutral buoyancy with such a suit. here is some tips:
Do you bouyancy check!!!
Try to get down with a rope help (anchor rope?) until you get use.
An steel tank help you to use less weight in you belt.
Don't change you equipment. So you can get use to some weight. If you change you equipment or suit frequently you only will get confused.
If you use an aluminum tank, try to do you buoyancy check after you dive, you tank will be ligther with less air.
Im my experience, for your body weight an equipment, 22lb will be enough. Check.
FYI. Almost every OW, with cold water suit, have problems in getting down. Remember, breathe out ALL the air in you lungs when you start to get down. And keep exhaling during the firt 1 o 2 mts (3 or 5 fts) so the water weight will pull you down.
I agree with Paula. It's important to remember to exhale completely....and, while I'm not sure if you are "nervious" or not, it is normal for divers to have some problems descending if it's a new experience. Just try to relax, exhale (even give a upward swim stroke or two to help go down) and don't give up.
As a last comment, remember that everytime you change your diving configuration, hood one time, hood and gloves the next, no hood or gloves, different wetsuit, etc, your weight requirement will change with your buoyancy.
There seem to be two issues. The first is that you believe you are overweighted and the second is that despite this, you still have difficulty sinking at the beginning of the dive.
1) Proper weighting involves having no more weight than is absolutely necessary at the end of the dive. If you have 500 PSI at the end of the dive, you shouldn't have to struggle to hold your safety stop. Likewise, you shouldn't have air in your bladder.
Since you aren't claiming to have problems at the end of the dive, we can assume you aren't underweighted.
2) It's really easy to create problems at the surface when trying to go down and the single biggest non-weighting reason is finning. When you're ready to go down, stop finning and be sure to exhale. Even better, hook your ankles together. Go down in a vertical position at first. You can fix it and go horizontal soon enough, the point by decending vertically is to reduce the resistance your body encounters while decending.
Try to change one piece of equipment at a time. On dive three, you dropped weight AND you moved to an AL tank, which is a LOT more bouyant that a steel. You didn't drop six pounds, you dropped TEN. It looks like it's helping you figure out proper weighting though if dive 4 is any indication.
If you really hate carrying a lot of weight on the belt, I suggest you stay with steel tanks (they'll take several pounds off the belt, or more depending on the tank) and well as considering buying a BP/W setup. Moving most of that weight to your back probably will be more comfortable.
Gosh, everyone is so helpful, I really appreciate it!
I do understand that I shouldn't vary my equipment too much while I'm still figuring out my buoyancy, and this is the reason why I've bought all the necessary equipment I can buy besides a steel tank and weights. I did vary my gear a lot during my last 2 dives as I was getting frustrated with the amount of weight I was carrying especially when I see guys who are almost 2x my weight and are carrying just as much weight as I was.. But just like what was mentioned, patience
Should I keep my ankle weights? I will definitely try to keep my ankles together. I did figure that one out--to try and stay as vertical as I can without finning so I could sink and also deflate everything completely including my lungs...I have problems with my legs floating up and so I try to get a bit deeper before I start getting myself into a horizonal position.
Use 20 lbs and watch for the following things next time you're in the water:
1. Stop finning yourself up - A lot of new diver unconsciously keep kicking themselves up while trying to submerge.
2. Exhale and take shallow breaths until you're about 2-3 feet under.
3. Use your arms to propel yourself down until you have a few feet of water above you.
4. Watch your breathing - Do not take really deep breaths then deep exhales. This makes you bob up and down as your lungs inflate and exhale. Slow, even, normal breaths. Except at the surface while trying to descend (see #2).
With experience and practice you will naturally become more relaxed and will most likely be able to shed some of the weights. The first ones to loose would be the ankle weights. These will tend to keepyou in a feet down head up attitude as opposed to horizontal. A horizontal attitude will reduce drag and consequently help improve your air consumption rate. Also, learning to use the frog kick will help fine tune your horizontal attitude or trim as it is more commonly called. The frog kick is also more efficient then the standard flutter kick and by using the frog kick you will also improve your air consumption rate or more commonly SAC rate.
Properly weighted you should be able to descend simply by dumping the air from your BC and exhaling fully. As your descent starts allow your body to rotate to the horizontal attitude. This allows you a better view of where you are going.
I would like to see you dive in a safe place (clear water, have a buddy, no wall drop offs) for this: Disconect your bc inflator and use your lungs to add air if needed. Two things will happen. You will become aware of how little volume results in a given amount of bouancy, and you will be more in tune with the need to use your lungs. This skill will be the baseline from which you will augment with your bc inflator and will get you more in touch with your core bouancy and make you less likely to overcompensate, which is the real culprit of yo-yo divers.
If you had the chance, beginning in warm water and as little weight and wetsuit thickness, is best, and then you can add the variables from there. The thicker the wetsuit, the more weight you must add, the tougher it is to find this sweet spot. Freediving is a valuable exercise if you enjoy that. Play with your breath. Anticipate and compensate for changes.
Hope you find the zen in this! Good luck, once you get it, it will be very rewarding.
I have to respectfully disagree with part of rakkis' post. You should never take shallow breaths while diving. This is often a large part of the problem new divers have with the first part of a descent. When you take shallow breaths, you are breathing off the top quarter of your lungs. The majority of the air in your lungs never gets exhaled and you retain signficant buoyancy. You should take long, slow, deep breaths. The key to the breathing cycle is to exhale fully. This is something you never really do in daily life, so it feels pretty weird. You will be surprised how long you can exhale. The point is that you really need to empty your lungs as much as you can, exchange the greatest volume of air that you can, and keep the cycle very smooth. Needless to say, do not hold your breath. There are levels of deep breathing. I am not taking about the deepest possible breath, which will get you rising and falling in the water, but a reasonably deep breath. It's a lot like yoga. This breathing pattern will also help you relax, which, as jbd points out, will help you descend. I don't profess to fully understand the physics or physiology of it, but a diver who is all tensed up - literal muscle tension - seems to be more buoyant than someone who is relaxed. Can't explain it, but I've seen it many times. Hang in there, you'll get it.