23 February 2005

Tips for Controlled Buoyancy

Many factors in diving effect buoyancy control in the water. Divers need to be aware of them and the various means of control. The principal means of buoyancy control are: the amount of weight you wear, the amount of air in your BC, and the amount of air in your lungs.

You must begin your dive properly weighted. Buoyancy testing begins at the surface with your BC completely deflated. Take a deep breath and hold it. Assume an upright motionless position. If you are weighted correctly, you will float at eye level in the water. It may be necessary to adjust the weight in your weight belt to achieve this. Also, if you pick up anything from the ocean floor, that will add weight to you and you may have to compensate.

At depth, you may notice your BC or dry suit expands as you ascend. This happens because, as you ascend, the air inside decompresses and expands. As you move upward, it may be necessary to dump air from your BC. You do not want to ascend too fast. The amount of air to be dumped depends on the depth and the situation. You may gauge your buoyancy during an ascent by your progress and your swimming efforts. If you find yourself rising through the water, you should exhale, turn upright, and dump the air.

You can also use your breathing pattern to control buoyancy until adjustments can be made to your BC. As you inhale, you will notice your body rise. As you exhale, you will notice you body descend. You can learn to use these small subtle movements to help control buoyancy. Other skills, such as properly kicking, can also help.


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