Learning buoyancy control

When you're first learning the art of scuba diving, you may not realize the importance of buoyancy control. Often, dive instructors won't spend much time on the subject, leaving you to learn how to master your buoyancy on your own. But, learning to control your buoyancy can help you enjoy your diving experience more fully. You'll be able to easily regulate and manage your position and proximity to items underwater, allowing you a close-up look without touching anything. In this article, you'll learn how various factors can impact your ability to control your buoyancy.

How ballast weight impacts buoyancy

The weight you dive with obviously helps to keep you submerged. But, many divers (even those with experience) fail to understand how much of an impact the ballast weight can have on their buoyancy control. Typically, dive instructors tell students to strap on too much weight. While the lead is effective for helping students remain submerged, it can make buoyancy more difficult to master. Start removing some lead each time you dive to begin controlling your buoyancy.

Knowing your trim

If you're positioned in the water at anything other than a horizontal line, any movement can wreak havoc with your buoyancy. A lot of divers drift at a near-upright position. The slightest movement of their fins propels them upward as well as forward. This crushes your chances at buoyancy control. Try to regulate your trim so that you're always in a horizontal position.

Your tank weight affects your buoyancy

You may not realize it, but as the air in your tank is depleted, your tank becomes lighter. Typically, a full tank can weigh approximately 6 pounds. It doesn't seem like much at first glance, but it can impact your buoyancy. If you're using a buoyancy compensator (you should be), you can gradually adjust your buoyancy as your tank's air is depleted.

How breathing controls buoyancy

The amount you breathe while submerged will affect your buoyancy. In a way, your lungs function as a buoyancy compensator. If you inhale deeply and exhale fully, you can experience the equivalent of approximately 10 pounds of weight. The fluctuation in your buoyancy won't be immediate. But, with patience, you'll notice that your breathing habits underwater can help you regulate your buoyancy control.

Muscle versus fat in buoyancy control

Often, you'll find that divers with similar heights and weights will need varying amounts of lead to keep themselves submerged. There's a simple reason why this happens. Muscle and bone sink while fat tends to float. So, a weightlifter may need less lead than a couch potato with the same weight and height.

A better diving experience through buoyancy control

Your scuba diving experience is directly impacted by the amount of buoyancy control you're able to manage underwater. Having the ability to approach and see things under the surface of the ocean without struggling to maintain your position can allow you to devote your time and attention to the marvels of the sea (and safety). Learn to control your buoyancy by managing your ballast and tank weight as well as your breathing. With practice, you'll have complete buoyancy control.