Conserving Air While Diving

Have you ever gone scuba diving and found yourself running low on air before others in your group?  If so, you may be breathing inefficiently and depleting the air in your tank well before you should.  Of course, there are factors that may be beyond your control. For example, smaller divers use less air. If you’re larger than other divers, you’ll use more air.  There’s likely plenty you can do to conserve the air in your tank so you can enjoy the experience of each dive more fully.  The following strategies will help you conserve air.

More diving experience

New divers burn more air than experienced divers. Most experts think the reason is due to beginning divers being anxious in a new environment. Their heart beats faster; they breathe faster and as a result, deplete the air in their tanks faster.  Dive more often to grow comfortable with being underwater for longer periods of time. With experience, you’ll likely find you’re less anxious and using less air.


When your body is tired, it requires more oxygen to function properly. When you’re scuba diving, your body will use the air in your tank more quickly. If you drink a lot of alcohol the night prior to a dive, you’ll find that your body needs more air than normal to feel alert and energetic. Drink more water than normal and rest peacefully the night before a dive. Your air will probably last longer.

Slow down

Beginner divers seem to be more excited when they first go underwater and race from one spot to another. However, the increased speed they use to propel themselves requires more air for their body to react. They don’t realize that the amount of air required is not proportional to the speed they swim. Increasing their speed 20% can require 40% more air. Slow down.  Swim at a leisurely pace and you’ll extend the life of the air in your tank.

Streamline everything

You may be surprised by the things that can create drag while underwater. Keep in mind that an increase in drag causes you to use more energy. If you have items that are creating a drag, your body will need more air to swim the same distance. Try to streamline your body, leave  unnecessary items behind,  keep your pockets empty, using your arms to swim will cause you to uses twice as much energy and air.  Kick from the hip with your legs fairly straight will keep you from doing a bicylce kick, which also costs more oxygen.

Take deeper, slower breaths

When you breathe shallowly, the oxygen doesn’t enter your bloodstream. So, even though it feels as if you’re getting the air you need, you’re not. Take deep breaths and let the air enter your lungs.  This way you will release as much carbon dioxide as possible while maximizing your body’s use of the oxygen in your tank. 

Now, with all this said,  try not to think about any of it too much during your dive…enjoy the scenery and relax!!!


About thescubalady

Leslie made her first ocean dive in the Cayman Islands,1982. She is passionate about sharing this beautiful underwater world with others!
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