Scuba Buoyancy - Peak Performance Buoyancy

In diving, buoyancy control skills 'separate the men from the boys.' Experienced divers save air, energy, and get the most out of a dive by being able to control their buoyancy to such an extent that it appears their movements are merely activated by thought. The following information touches on the pivots for maintaining peak performance buoyancy and will be dealt with in practice during the course.

  • Breath control. Inhaling will result in floating upward, exhaling will make you heavier. Filling and emptying your lungs in accordance acts as an inner flotation device control.
  • Weight distribution
  • Avoiding the bottom
  • Add the least amount of air possible to your BCD to remain buoyant, in accordance with suit type.
  • Manage your weights in accordance with dive gear.

Remember that the air you use from your tank makes you lighter during the course of the dive thereby increasing your buoyancy to around 2kg/ 5lbs. This factor extends distribution consideration to setting your weights when preparing for the dive.

When fine-tuning your buoyancy consider the amount of air you need to release into your BCD in accordance with the type you suite you are wearing. Dive skins require little or nothing whilst dry and wet suits are subject to the three points of adjustment during the dive namely:

  1. Adjusting for original buoyancy.
  2. Adjusting for lost air during the course of the dive.
  3. Adjusting for the increase in buoyancy that occurs during the ascent.

Remember when wearing a dry suit that it should serve as your buoyancy control mechanism.
Taking time to properly visualize the feeling of attaining buoyancy before the dive assists in the psychological training and preparation necessary to attune your motor skills to successfully achieve the level of performance you want. This way when you are in the water, your mind is already pre-programmed to naturally allowing the energy and focus it would have required to maintain buoyancy to shift to enjoying the dive.

Fitness plus stamina equals the muscle power required to control buoyancy, allowing you to stay within your physical limitations and save energy. Saving energy means saving the breath needed to maximize peak buoyancy control. Also, remember that leaner mass sinks, and proves to be less to lug around thereby minimizing drag.

Streamlining is essential to maintaining buoyancy. Making sure that your diving equipment is neatly tucked away and not dragging on the bottom damaging the natural inhabitants in whose home you are merely an uninvited guest. Being over-weighed also adds to drag and countering this will allow you to remain more effortlessly horizontal due to equal weight distribution.

PADI's five step buoyancy check recommends:

  1. Submerge yourself fully kitted for the dive.
  2. Find a point where your feet just cannot touch the ground and inflate your BC or dry suit valve completely.
  3. Suspend your body vertically and hold your breath.
  4. Take away or add weights in accordance until you float at eye level whilst holding your breath.
  5. Finally, check that you sinking slowly while exhaling.

Risky Conditions and Side Effects

Scuba diving can be defined as swimming under water at various depths. Diving up to a depth of 130 feet is considered as recreational or sport diving. The pressure generated by the water column around the diver could influence general body functions. However, if you take certain precautions and adhere to all diving rules, scuba diving can be a safe, pleasurable experience. Unfortunately there are certain medical conditions that will prevent a diver to continue diving.

Limitations due to side effects of scuba diving

  • People with the following conditions are generally strongly advised to avoid scuba diving.
  • Even healthy individuals experience breathing problems when remaining under water for longer periods of time. That is why people with pulmonary troubles are not allowed to dive, even with the right safety measures and scuba equipment.
  • The same rule applies to anyone with cardiovascular problems. Diving affects the circulatory system and heart functions; therefore it is a serious threat to people with heart conditions and who have undergone heart bypass surgery.
  • Pregnant women are advised not to scuba dive, due to the complications that could arise from the high pressure. Possible injuries to the baby are also a big factor.
  • Similarly, persons with inherent metabolic troubles, ear, nose & throat (ENT) issues, behavioural health problems, drug users, people who are easily fatigued, obese individuals, and intoxicated people are advised to avoid scuba diving.

Risks in scuba diving for healthy divers

Decompression sickness, commonly known as bends, is the most common risk in scuba diving. Decompression is the process by which the ambient pressure of the body is balanced with the higher pressure under water. When the pressurized nitrogen gas builds up in the body, its release is sometimes trapped as bubbles in the blood and body tissues. This could cause extreme discomfort, disorientation, brain damage, heart attacks, dysfunction of the spinal cord, damage to lungs, and could lead to death. When the bubbles travel to the brain, the condition is known as an arterial gas embolism.

Apart from the major problems outlined above, minor medical problems include middle ear ‘squeeze’ that causes pain in the ears due to the difference in the pressure. Cuts, injuries, and scrapes on the body due to contact with marine animals, coral reefs, sharp rocks, metal parts of ship wrecks, and fishing lines are also common for divers. A malfunction in scuba gear or being unable to manage your air supply properly, can lead to the diver drowning.

One of the biggest side effects of scuba diving is Hypothermia. Hypothermia is when the body temperature dips sharply to an extremely low level, below the requirements for normal metabolism and bodily functions. This usually occurs in cold waters or at extreme depths. Shivering, amnesia, and irrational behaviour are betraying signs of this condition. Hypothermia can lead to brain damage, lung haemorrhage, and death.

We recommend all potential divers to discuss scuba diving and side effects with qualified medical practitioners. Experienced divers must go for regular checkups to ensure that they are fit to dive.

To ensure safe scuba diving, adhere to all diving rules and take all possible precautions. In doing so, you will ensure a safe, pleasurable diving experience, without any harmful side effects, for you and your family.