In recreational scuba diving and technical diving one of the stand out most important skills is that of buoyancy. Or in other words the skill of being in complete control while diving. With time and dives a divers buoyancy should improve with continued practice and experience. A lot depends also on the quality of the initial training received and if the importance of it was highlighted at the time. Once a diver has a good understanding then general buoyancy will improve with time.
Another way to improve your buoyancy is to complete the Peak Performance Buoyancy course. This covers general buoyancy and will improve a divers understanding and ability. Benefits of good buoyancy control includes improved dive position, proper weighting, more relaxed diving, a better diving experience, controlled ascents and descents, increased safety, improved air consumption, longer dives, care for the underwater environment and care for the equipment to name a few.
Good buoyancy control is also very important for technical divers with good decompression stops, proper ascents and descents and good general diving being all the more critical. With the increased equipment, task loading and normally deeper depths involved good buoyancy control is a must. Due to technical divers normally having good experience when they start, above average buoyancy control should be the norm.
So what is good buoyancy control and what are the physics behind it ?
As we descend while diving the air in our BCD's, our bodies and our suits starts to compress due to the increasing pressure and therefore as we go deeper we get more negatively buoyant. To compensate for this we need to add air to our buoyancy control devices. Doing so controls the rate of our descent. Enough should then be added at the depth we want to stop at to make us neutrally buoyant. A good way to see that we are neutral is to fin and then glide through the water rather than continually finning, if we do not fall or rise then we are neutrally buoyant. At this point the real skill is then to fine tune our position with breathing control. The same as with our BCD by breathing in we add air to our lungs and can rise, by breathing out we can drop. The amount we breathe either way will control the distance we can rise or fall. This is only possible when we are neutrally buoyant and is the essence of good buoyancy diving.
As we then ascend to the surface or to a shallower depth the air we have added begins to expand due to the pressure now decreasing and our suits retain their thickness. Therefore we are becoming more positively buoyant and need to gradually release air from our BCD to maintain neutral buoyancy and control. Failiure to do so could result in ascending too fast which increases the risk of decompression illness. This is one of the reasons as to why good buoyancy control is so important.
For anyone who needs to improve their buoyancy a visit to the local Dive Centre is a good idea, and to go diving with a professional who can help you understand good buoyancy control further and put techniques into practise. Also completing the Peak Performance buoyancy course is highly recommended and will put you on the path to continually improving and becoming a better diver with experience.