It is the questions we get asked a lot, how do you use less air and get longer bottom times while scuba diving ? Why do I use my air quicker than the next person, what is his or her secret ?
Does this mean that you are not as physically fit as the next person or as skilled in the water as they are ? Not necessarily. Although fitness, body size and lung size among other factors do make big differences here are some tips to maximise your dive time and reduce your air consumption.
Breathe deeply and slowly. Think about your breathing technique and try not to take lots of shorter and quicker breaths. This will slow down your air consumption while deep breathing brings more fresh oxygen into the lungs and promotes better gas exchange. Get your breathing into a nice, easy rythmn.
Swim slowly and don't be in a rush. Doubling your speed takes 4 times the energy and that boils down to using more air.
Maintain a proper dive position. Don't dive through the water at an angle like a seahorse, your trim should be such that you are perfectly positioned horizontally. Horizontal positioning with minimal BCD inflation and proper fin kicking will allow you to dive forward with the least amount of effort. Being neutrally buoyant is also crucial to minimize effort. This position should be maintained during your ascents and descents too.
Kick properly. Stop bicycle kicking or another other way apart from a good frog kick or the standard kick which involves keeping your legs straight and kicking from the hips with your fins as an extension of your whole leg.
Get streamlined. Don't have any bulky or dangling kit and stay within your body's slipstream. Arms at your side or better still held out in front with your hands clasped together. Keep those arms still and practice your buoyancy, breathing control and dive position.
Proper weighting. Get the lead off ! So many people dive well overweighted due to a lack of general good technique. If you are overweighted you have to waste air to maintain buoyancy, this creates a lot of drag in the water and can make you more upright and not in a proper dive position.
Stay calm and relax while diving. Among the main reasons for higher air consumption is anxiety and over breathing. Divers who haven't dived for a while, have had a bad experience or not a lot of experience tend to breathe down their air quicker than others. Divers should stay within their limits and gain dive experience to improve their air consumption.
Check your gear. Any part of the kit not in 100% working order is not just inefficient, it's dangerous. If an oring is leaking replace it, if a regulator is breathing hard get it serviced and make sure your equipment is right for you and fits correctly.
Good technique is very important. If it needs to improve seek the advice of a professional, it won't take long before your diving improves with a few key pointers from someone who knows what it takes. Never stop learning and a few dives with a professional will put you on the right track, this may be all you need and you don't need to do another course. If you do want to study buoyancy and trim in more detail the Peak Performance Bouyancy course is an excellent and worthwhile way to improve your technique.
Remember too of course that diving deeper uses more air than shallower depths, a lot more in fact between say a 15 metre and a 35 metre dive.
Put all these tips together and we think you will notice your gas consumption rate improving and you will be enjoying your diving a lot more too.