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Priority of skills to master for new divers

Discussion in 'New Divers and Those Considering Diving' started by DiveToFeelAlive, Sep 19, 2020.

  1. lowwall

    lowwall Manta Ray

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: Chicago
    Agree with everyone that buoyancy control is the critical skill.

    But... You can do something about your air consumption rate. It's actually very simple, just concentrate on doing longer and slower exhales. Maybe count to 5 (and eventually 10) when exhaling. Eventually it will become second nature and you won't have to concentrate on it except maybe at the very beginning of the dive.

    Doing so will slow down your overall breathing rate. Not only does this conserve air, it helps keep you calm and ensures CO2 is efficiently cleared. Elevated CO2 is a real villain in diving, it causes headaches and anxiety, and is a major contributor to panic.

    BTW, don't worry about trying to slow the inhale. Modern regulator second stages (and modern for regulators goes back at least 30 years) deliver air quite forcefully once airflow commences making it difficult to "sip" air. Even if you can, it's not a good idea in terms of blood CO2 levels.

    I should include some caveats here. Sometimes you need to adjust your breathing to better position yourself in the water or because your exertion level is high and that should take precedence.
    Cdncoldwater likes this.
  2. lowwall

    lowwall Manta Ray

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: Chicago
    You can try the snorkeling trick of bending forward and then kicking up your legs vertical in the water to get started. Like this:

    But don't forget to...
    Equalize every couple of feet for the first 20 feet and then every five feet or so. If you can't equalize, go up until you can. Do not rush this. You are in charge of your dive, don't hurt yourself to "keep up". But do keep an eye on your buddy and your group while descending.
  3. Dubious

    Dubious ScubaBoard Supporter ScubaBoard Supporter

    In the words of Johnathan Bird Boyuancy Boyuancy Boyuancy at 3:06 in the video. I don't know why this site doesn't like starting videos at the set time.

    MichaelMc likes this.
  4. scrane

    scrane Manta Ray

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: Boise, ID.
    Buoyancy control and breathing are intertwined. In fact once weighting and BC air are balanced they are inseparable.
    Cdncoldwater likes this.
  5. rick00001967

    rick00001967 Tech Instructor

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: canada
    depends on the reg. i am sure someone here will correct me if i am wrong but i believe a balanced reg provides even pressure no matter what depth a recreational diver might be. where as an unbalanced reg gets harder to breath in deep water.
  6. MichaelMc

    MichaelMc Working toward Cenotes ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: 100 - 199
    Location: Berkeley, CA
    1) Proper weighting will make buoyancy control easier by not giving you a big air bubble that fluctuates more with depth.

    2) I'd argue buoyancy itself is self-teaching with time. Well, time that is not spent planted on the bottom.

    3) Weight distribution for easier horizontal orientation is not self-teaching. Unless you realize you can dive more easily by getting level. Which is achieved, for a recreational diver, by moving weight around. Take the time, as a recreational diver, to shift weight up or down your body to get horizontal in the water when not kicking. It will make your motions much more fluid and enjoyable.
    The video of Johnathan Bird's kids was great. I would have been more impressed if he had taken the time to get their weight distribution fixed up to be a neutral distribution, so it is easier for them to pick their orientation in the water instead of always shifting back to vertical when they stopped kicking. The kids might not know enough, they are new and kids, but he did.

    Increased depth compresses the air you are breathing in, which means the air is denser. That means it takes more work to move it around in your lungs. The effect is more of a concern in the 100'+ range, not shallower.

    All first stages adjust to changes in water pressure/depth, delivering some pressure above the water pressure. Balanced first stages adjust to the decrease in tank pressure as the tank is used up, unbalanced do not. Balanced second stages adjust to changes in the intermediate pressure coming from the first stage, unbalanced do not.
  7. Compressor

    Compressor ScubaBoard Supporter Staff Member ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: 1,000 - 2,499
    Location: NYS
    I think the most important skill to master is to maintain a state of tension free zen. Have your mind clear of above the water conflicts. Then you will have situational awareness of your buoyancy/trim/depth/time.....
    "Zen is a state of mind that is, a mind not fixed or occupied by thought or emotion and thus open to everything." Wikipedia
    Seaweed Doc, chillyinCanada and DaveC like this.
  8. divad

    divad Solo Diver

    I thought the 1st priority skill was "DON'T HOLD YOUR BREATH"
    Seaweed Doc and chillyinCanada like this.
  9. MichaelMc

    MichaelMc Working toward Cenotes ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: 100 - 199
    Location: Berkeley, CA
    The 1st priority skill is: Do not breathe the water. :wink:.
  10. JimBlay

    JimBlay Divin' Papaw ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: South Florida
    Great advice above. Not much to add other than to throw in my general agreement.

    Here would be my list:

    1. Buoyancy control which includes proper weighting & technique
    2. Trim & streamlining
    3. Finning technique
    4. Control of position in the water column. Requires mastery of the above 3.
    5. Relaxation
    6. Breathing technique meaning deep, diaphragm breathing
    7. Efficient equipment organization, doning & doffing
    8. Navigation ... natural & compass

    Air consumption will improve on its own when you master 1-8.
    Cdncoldwater, Bob DBF and MichaelMc like this.

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