Recently, a student diver asked me for tips on how to reduce his air consumption in order to enjoy longer dives on a single tank. This got me thinking back a bit. I realized that during basic open water training, we teach the students to carefully keep track of their dive time so as not to exceed the no decompression time limit. However, as a novice diver, I never even got close to approaching any kind of NDL, due to quite heavy breathing.
So therefore, here are three tips on how to get the most out of your tank.
1) Dive, Dive, Dive!
In my experience, this is the key to a lot of things diving, including air consumption. The more you dive the less oxygen you will consume. Its as simple as that . The more time you spend under water, the more comfortable you will feel when down there. You’ll get to know your equipment well, and your technique will get better. This means you will feel less stress and use less energy during your dive, and therefore consume less oxygen.
2) Lose that weight!
Perform regular pre-dive buoyancy checks at the surface. Don’t carry more lead than you need in order to get down at the beginning of the dive, and of course to prevent involuntary surfacing at the end of the dive! Each kilogram (kg) lead that you can lose will save air by reducing the amount of air needed to maintain neutrally buoyancy during the dive. (If you need a reminder of how to do this, check out this video)
3) Practice buoyancy control!
The goal is for you to limit the use of the low-pressure inflator. Fine-tuning your buoyancy using your lungs instead of your inflator will save you a lot of air. But it takes some practice to get there. In the beginning, try to take at least a part of your dive, and really focusing on your buoyancy.
Practicing in a pool is another good idea. This might not seem like much fun, but it can be! Why not challenge your buddy and make a bet for post-dive dinner? Try to stay neutrally buoyant while you and your buddy pass a weight back and forth between the two of you. You can also arrange some hoops on different depths to swim through. Or maybe you take a peak performance buoyancy speciality course, and meet some new friends as well?
The important thing is that you work on it. And have fun! Remember, practice makes perfect!
So, here are my three basic tips for reducing air consumption and increasing your dive time. What is your best tip to make that tank last longer? Let me know below!