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Swimming Laps to improve SAC rate

Discussion in 'Basic Scuba Discussions' started by FishWatcher747, Nov 15, 2020.

  1. MaxBottomtime

    MaxBottomtime Divemaster

    # of Dives: 2,500 - 4,999
    Location: Torrance, CA
    Everyone has mentioned helpful ideas, but another one is streamlined gear. Most jacket BCs and hoses not tucked against your body create drag. Improper weighting will cause you to swim at an angle other than 90°, also creating drag. Getting your gear in order and becoming more comfortable in the water will add several minutes to your dives.

    Another thing I have found is underwater photography. I rarely swim more than fifty feet during most dives, increasing my bottom time.
    laikabear and John C. Ratliff like this.
  2. lowwall

    lowwall Loggerhead Turtle

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: Chicago
    I find that longer exhales = longer bottom times. Longer exhales is not skip breathing. Most endurance freestyle swimmers do their inhales every 3rd through 6th stroke. Inhales are obviously fast and deep, similar to what you get with a well-tuned reg. Then they exhale the entire time their face is in the water, which prevents CO2 buildup. The same thing with breaststroke and butterfly, you breathe every stroke but the turnover is slower so your exhales are still much longer than your inhales.
    Aviyes and scubadada like this.
  3. FishWatcher747

    FishWatcher747 Angel Fish

    # of Dives: 50 - 99
    Location: Lake Placid, NY
    lowwall is getting at what I am thinking. Short distance freestyle swimmers breath every 2nd stroke. This is what I have been doing. Even to improve my swimming not to improve my SAC more experienced swimmers have told me to breath on the 3rd or 5th stroke.

    It can't do anything but help to train yourself to exhale longer when swimming laps. It may not make one a faster swimmer but may contribute to relaxing in the water when diving and not breathing like a pissed off dragon.
    BlueTrin and lowwall like this.
  4. Rooster59

    Rooster59 Solo Diver

    Every muscle fiber in your body that fires consumes fuel and O2. Produces CO2 and lactic acid. So relax, don’t use any muscle fibers other than the ones you absolutely need for whatever task you are doing. Be like my golden retriever Scout. Worlds laziest dog. Most of his life he’s horizontal and streamlined. And start fin swimming during your pool workouts.
    Hoyden likes this.
  5. Telvar

    Telvar Angel Fish

    # of Dives: 50 - 99
    Location: Netherlands
    Dive more. The more you dive, the more you'll get comfortable in the water and that brings your heart rate and breathing rate down. Also, what worked with me is doing breathing exercises. Those two brought my gas consumption down about 40% in less than a year. Oh and make sure you're warm enough.

    As to the swimming: keep it up, being in better shape always helps but in practice that will only really help when you're performing strenuous activity underwater.
  6. Sbiriguda

    Sbiriguda Manta Ray

    # of Dives: 25 - 49
    Location: Italy
    I don't think it's really necessary. I know several people who smoke and do little sports activity and are excellent scuba divers in any respect, starting from air consumption. Anyway coming back to your question I would say that there is a very tough exercise from freediving / swimming that might help you. Get a swimming board and start making laps. Hold your breath for some seconds for example swim - hold your breath for 5 seconds - swim again breathing normally. Gradually increase the number of seconds without breathing. Remember that this exercise is "swimming" but any "freediving" exercise that imply holding your breath far from the surface is potentially dangerous if you exercise alone without buddy or instructor. This one is not, it's like swimming "normally"
    kelemvor likes this.
  7. formernuke

    formernuke ScubaBoard Sponsor ScubaBoard Sponsor

    # of Dives: I just don't log dives
    Location: New England
    Comfort in the water, proper weighting, not floundering etc as mentioned earlier will do more for your SAC than most things.

    With that said being physically fit is all around a healthy thing and swimming laps is one of the best exercises out there.
    John C. Ratliff and Hoyden like this.
  8. jborg

    jborg Lurker ScubaBoard Sponsor

    # of Dives: 50 - 99
    Location: Sweden
    I don't quite see why this would be the case. After exhaling some air you have a smaller remaining amount of air in the lungs, with the same concentration of CO2 and O2 as what you exhaled. That remaining air has less capacity to absorb CO2 from the blood and less O2 to give back, because there is less of it. One of the principles, as I understand it, of freediving is to never exhale until you intend to inhale, as then you're wasting valuable gas that would do more good in your lungs.

    I suspect that in competitive swimming it's more about having lungs that are empty enough to suck in a lot of air in the short amount of time you have to inhale?
  9. stepfen

    stepfen ScubaBoard Supporter ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: Greece
    I am not an expert by any means. I just used to swim quite a bit some years ago and due to this I had quite bad (for diving) breathing habits. Here are my 2c. The concept of comparing your free-style laps to diving is wrong. Swimming is a speed/endurance exercise - diving shouldn't be either of them. Differences don't stop here. Usually for free-style swimming you want a very brief but deep inhalation followed by a slow continuous exhalation. Do that during a dive (eg at safety stop) and you'd probably shoot up to the surface like a missile, especially if you have large lungs.

    My suggestions: do your laps (as much as you can) to improve your fitness level, to improve your movement and comfort in/under water etc but other than that don't expect much benefit eg for SAC. More importantly keep your swimming breathing techniques out of diving. For diving you should be totally relaxed, minimize any movement/effort and breath smoothly at a rate/amount that won't affect (much) your buoyancy.

    Only time spend underwater and some help/input from others can help you improve your comfort, technique as well as equipment (weight/trim) resulting in reduced SAC rates in the long term.

    Better fitness might help a bit with SAC (this is yet another very hot topic here in SB - you will read very strong opinions both for and against this) but any possible improvement will be much smaller than what you loose with bad technique and/or wrong weighting and trim.

    As always just my 2c
  10. jonhall

    jonhall Manta Ray

    # of Dives: 100 - 199
    Location: Indianapolis
    Well, I'm really going to shorten this post as I lost the first one I typed. Based on what I read and what I remember I typed earlier:

    1. Swimming great for fitness which may improve SAC. My buddy of 12 years used up air quickly when we first started diving together 12 years ago. He got a treadmill somewhere along the line and still uses it religiously - his air consumption has improved immensely. IMO, it is a fitness thing and swimming is great for that.

    2. Liked the comparison of @lowwall post, though the exhalation of air while a swimmer's face is in the water is so that the swimmer doesn't have to make a big blow at the end of the exhalation to make room for fresh air and so that the lungs are empty leaving room for the new air.

    3. Whether short or long distances swimmers, the number of breaths are not the most important factor in becoming a better swimmer. We see competitive swimmers taking a certain number of breaths in the event they swim and they do practice that, but most competitive swimmers in a practice, because of the distances they swim and muscles needing oxygen, breathe every 1-2 arm cycles. Consider Michael Phelps swam up to 8 miles a day when he competed!

    4. Swimming laps in a pool and exhaling underwater, through however many strokes one wants to take before inhaling, seems like it should carryover to allowing one to dive longer with longer exhalations. Think it would help with buoyancy also. It's easy to practice and concentrate on breathing while in a pool doing laps - what else is there to do :). But even with that practice, once a diver goes underwater, concentration begins to spread out to things like, clearing ears, descent/ascent speed, buoyancy control, getting camera ready, looking for buddy or DM, worrying about a swim through, etc... Oh yeah, I need to concentrate on long exhalations!! I would like to think as @FishWatcher747 does that maybe some of that can become intrinsic to diving.

    5. My opinion: Breathing is breathing, swimming is swimming, and you do both in diving, just differently.

    I laughed at this. I used to tell my swimmers, the one way to swim fast is to swim fast.

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