Are you always the first diver back on the boat? Do you have a buddy who constantly needs to share their air with you during your safety stop? Have you been avoiding deep dives because you are worried about your air consumption? Then take some time to ready my top 5 reasons why you are emptying your tank faster than other divers.
What is an Air Hog?
The term ‘Air Hog’ is used for divers that blow through their air faster than most. Divers that request 100 cubic foot tanks for a little extra air time for example. There is nothing wrong with being an Air Hog, (as long as you carry that big ass tank to the boat yourself!) this is something that almost all beginner divers go through! Usually the more you dive and more comfortable you become the less air you will use. If you want to find out why you might be using more air than other divers check out my list and explanations below:
#1 reason divers use too much air: They are have too much weight on their weight belt!!
Lots of the customers I have taken diving over the years are severely overweighted. This can be due to several reasons (look for a full post about this soon) including that they swim too fast, use a variety of wetsuits or they just haven’t gotten the hang of underwater buoyancy. Remember that when you are wearing the proper amount of weight you should be able to exhale to sink and inhale to rise without adding any air to your BCD!
Wearing too much weight results in two issues.
1. You will need to constantly adjust the air in your BCD throughout your dive. Resulting in a lot of wasted air. 2. You will move more to compensate for the extra weight. The more weighed down you are the more you kick and flail your arms. Both of these cause your heart rate to increase and result in heavier breathing, so you will finish your tank quickly.
How to fix this issue:
Take some time to work on your buoyancy and find out how much weight you really need to dive in different situations (ie- different depths, with different suits, etc). Write it down in your log book so you can remember for the next time!
Ask your dive instructor or dive master for help. Make sure that you do this sometime BEFORE the 2 seconds until you jump in the water with a big group.
Take a Peak Performance Buoyancy course. This class doesn’t seem the most exciting but I promise the main difference between a beginner diver and an experienced is this skill. Don’t waste your next 30 dives struggling when you could take this course and jump up a level right away.
#2 reason divers use too much air: They are moving too much or too fast.
Again this is a habit of new or uncomfortable divers. At the beginning of your dive when you are gearing up and entering the water things can get kind of hectic on the boat. Even as an instructor this is always when we are trying to make sure we don’t forget anything and when the weather conditions affect us the most.
A very common side affect of a stressful entry is a stressful dive. Even in your day to day life once your heart rate is elevated it is difficult to calm down without being intentional. Divers often enter the water and take-off right away without taking a minute to sit beneath the surface and relax. Then they spend the whole dive rushing as if they need to get somewhere. The more you kick the more air you use, hence an empty tank!
How to fix this issue:
Diving is supposed to be relaxing!! We aren’t rushing to a meeting or to get something done! So when you enter the water STOP and take a few seconds to relax. You can do this holding onto the drop line, kneeling in the sand or hovering above the bottom. Focus on your breathing and the feeling of being underwater. I learned this while working at Ocean Explorers, where the groups are all told during the briefing they will be taking some time beneath the surface to get acclimated on each dive. Honestly it made a huge difference for me as a group leader to not have my divers taking off around the wreck the second we got in the water!! No matter how experienced you are this will help you to enjoy your time underwater.
#3 reason divers use too much air: They swim with their arms.
Using your arms to swim is a common side affect of wearing too much weight. As divers feel themselves being dragged down to the bottom they start to use their arms to ‘balance’ underwater. It is really simple to see why this wastes air through a simple test you can do while you are reading my amazing post 🙂 If you pump your arms like you are running continuously for a couple of minutes you will see that your heart rate increases and you can become short of breath very quickly. Now imagine that you add in water resistance and you continue like this for a 40 minute dive!
*Bonus* This not only wastes a ton of air but it often causes divers to feel nauseated without realizing why. If you see someone throwing up on a boat the second after they surface it is more likely due to overwork during the dive than seasickness! Those who experience true seasickness should feel the best underwater where they are not rocking on the boat and shouldn’t feel sick again until after being on the boat for at least a couple minutes.
How to fix this issue:
Pretty simple fix as it is essentially the same as #2. Learn what your proper weight is and get comfortable adjusting it depending on the variables! Take your time to get adjusted at the beginning of the dive and ask for help with your weights or swimming tips when you need it.
#4 reason divers use too much air: They are diving with a camera before they are ready!
Diving with your own camera sounds like a great idea and with action cameras becoming more and more common even first-time divers bring them along. Unfortunately all that fluffing about trying to get the perfect shot and not being mindful about your diving can result in wasted air and pissed off dive buddies.
I always suggest that you skip the camera until you are a really comfortable diver. You might miss out some shots, but honestly it is never the same to experience something behind a camera. Take some time to get comfortable diving and just enjoying your time underwater. If you want to add a camera later on then be a more mindful photographer. Stop frequently to make sure you aren’t rushing the dive because a camera is in your hands, and work with an instructor on your buoyancy.
#5, my last reason divers use too much air: Their psychological and physiological state.
You might hear that big guys will always blow through their air. While it is true that men have larger lungs than women do, I have dove with some real hulks that have terrific air consumption. If, however, you come to a dive hungover, jet lagged, stressed and tired you are just not in your peak physical or psychological condition. All of these can lead to dehydration and a lack of electrolytes which not only cause slow reaction times and nausea, but they can actually make you more susceptible to decompression illness. Naturally when you body is in a state of stress/recovery you can become winded or short of breath more quickly. These factors cause you to use more air, feel more seasick and in general ruin your day.
How to fix this issue:
Make sure you are practicing some self-care during your dive trip. Try to avoid the ‘getting your money’s worth’ type of intense vacation (you know the kind where you need a couple days off at the end of it). I always take the first day after traveling to chill and unwind rather then hopping right onto the dive boat. Remember diving is supposed to be relaxing!
When you go out to party the night before a dive make sure to eat something first and then use the rule of 1 for me and 1 for the dive (one alcoholic drink for party time and the next non-alcoholic so you don’t end up being the jerk that can’t handle the surface interval).
I hope that these tips will help you to lengthen your time underwater and never be the first one back on the boat! Do you have any ideas to help other divers that suffer from AirHog syndrome? Drop them in the comments below.