What to Know If You're a New Diver
You may have recently gotten your entry level diving certification, whether it was PADI, SSI, NAUI, etc; or have received your entry level diving certification but haven’t gone diving since, you are a new diver. Here are some things you should know about your new sport:
Improving your buoyancy is key! During your entry level diving certification, you might remember your instructor teaching you how to do fin pivots and hovering. Finding perfect balance underwater is difficult and even after your certification you won’t have full control of it.
What you need to understand about buoyancy control is that breathing is the #1 buoyancy control device. Most experienced divers will not be seen fiddling around with their BCDs while diving. This is because they know that their lungs are enough. During your descent you should be taking small breaths in and big breaths out. If you are hovering, equal breaths in and out. When you are moving away or up, take big breaths in and small breaths out. Only use your BCD for large depth changes.
Buoyancy and weighting come hand in hand. If you’re over weighted you will have poor buoyancy control. If you’re unsure of how much weight you need, do a proper weight check. Like in your course, at the end of your dive, empty out your BCD on the surface and hold a normal breath, you should be floating at eye level. When you exhale the air in your lungs you will sink.
Your wetsuit thickness will affect your weighting. If it’s a newer wetsuit, it will be more buoyant and therefore you will need to add more weight. But in time, it will lose its buoyancy and you can drop those extra weights.
If you have found your perfect weighting, remember to log it. Log how much weight you used for a certain wetsuit thickness, what kind of tank material, and diving conditions.
Your positioning underwater matters! When underwater you should be in a nice horizontal position. If it feels like your bum is lower than your torso, you are over weighted or your weights are not in the correct place. Play around with your integrated weights and trim pockets. Your back in the future will thank you.
Air supply, no not the band, but your air consumption underwater. Being properly weighted is key to your air consumption. If you are over weighted, you will consume more air because you are exerting more energy trying to be neutrally buoyant during your dive.
While diving, actively remember to slow down and relax. Avoid kicking more than needed, using your hand, or generally over exerting yourself underwater.
Keeping warm is vital to your air supply. Wear the appropriate exposure suit to the certain conditions you will be diving in. If you are cold while underwater, you will consume more air because your body is over exerting itself trying to keep warm.
All in all, as a new diver you should continue to dive more. Practice makes perfect!
-Mae Nasmyth (PADI MSDT)