Buoyancy Masterclass series of 9 articles that explain the things you probably didn’t learn on your Open Water course…

Many novice divers stress and struggle to reduce air consumption through artificially controlling their breathing patterns. It’s a lost cause approach. The respiratory metabolism demands sufficient oxygen and shallow or paused (skip) breathing only serves to increase CO2 retention and raises the respiratory rate.

The advice given to novice divers varies from breathing ‘shallow’, ‘lightly’ or ‘relaxed’, but rarely are these concepts fully explained.

I’d like to expand on this, as many novice divers misinterpret such advice – wasting time and spoiling dives in an obsession with finding the ‘magic method’ of breathing to lower their air consumption.

There is no magic and there is no secret formula.

technical diving sidemount philippines

Technical diving demands the highest levels of buoyancy, trim and propulsion. A tech instructor is expert in training divers to the highest standards.

Pay attention to your breathing demands in day-to-day life:

  • How do you breath when you do a light jog?
  • How do you breathe when you are walking around the shops?
  • How do you breath when you are laying on the couch?
  • How do you breath lying in bed, when you first wake up in the morning?

Relaxed, effortless, efficient breathing occurs when we are at rest… in a state of psychological and physical relaxation. This is exactly the breathing pattern we should aim to achieve when scuba diving. Like laying on the couch, or waking from sleep… a light, relaxed and thoughtless breathing cycle.  The only way to do that is to lower exertion… to make our dives as effortless as possible.

This happens naturally as we gain experience, and this is why divers often notice improvements in their air consumption over time. But for the novice diver, the fast-track to those benefits is focus and commitment to perfecting their fundamental skills; buoyancy, trim, propulsion and control.

Air consumption lowered by good diving buoyancy control

A technical diving student practising static buoyancy control. The same skills and drills used on tech diving courses can benefit recreational divers seeking to improve their fundamental diving skills and improve air consumption.

If you struggle to improve your fundamental diving skills, then do consider getting expert help to refine your diving techniques.  There is an increasing range of such courses available to divers nowadays; ranging from basic and cheap ‘Peak Performance Buoyancy’ classes through to extensive and demanding courses like the GUE ‘Fundamentals’ class.  In addition, many technical diving instructors offer developmental classes and clinics in core scuba skills – you don’t have to plan to do decompression diving in order to reap the benefits of learning technical-level fundamental skills from a tech instructor…

Sorry folks… no magic recipes…  only some genuine advice to commit some time and practice to improve your fundamental diving skills.


About the Author

andy davis technical diving philippines

Andy Davis is a RAID, PADI TecRec, ANDI, BSAC and SSI qualified independent technical diving instructor who specializes in teaching advanced sidemount, trimix and wreck exploration diving courses across South East Asia.  Currently residing in ‘wreck diving heaven’ at Subic Bay, Philippines, he has amassed more than 9000 open circuit and CCR dives over 27 years of diving across the globe.

Andy has published many magazine articles on technical diving, has written course materials for dive training agency syllabus, tests and reviews diving gear for major manufacturers and consults with the Philippines Underwater Archaeology Society.

He is currently writing a series of books to be published on advanced diving topics.  Prior to becoming a professional technical diving educator in 2006, Andy was a commissioned officer in the Royal Air Force and has served in Iraq, Afghanistan, Belize and Cyprus.

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