Perfecting buoyancy and streamlining…a never ending objective for all divers. Whether from the outset of your diving life on your PADI Open Water course, or entering the professional realm of PADI Divemaster or Open Water Scuba Instructor this is something we strive to get better at.
When we start out diving the arms won’t stop moving as we progress from dry land to the swimming pool, or open ocean (and yes, your instructor was once like this). All of a sudden you go from having a size 10 foot to a size 27. Getting used to all this new equipment and the mass of lead attached so we can actually descend is no easy task. As you progress with your diving you may start to purchase your own dive gear. Again, a period of adjustment is needed so you get used to how the important characteristics of a new BCD, fins or wetsuit throw everything you have learnt back to the starting point for a brief time.
With my students I try to start this understanding from a very early stage. Clasping the hands together, changing the way fins move in the water and adjusting weight and distribution for ideal trim are all a few tricks instructors may have in their toolbox.
My favorite part of teaching any PADI Advanced Open Water class is the Peak Performance Buoyancy session (one I recommend all students to undertake). I get a lot of value as an instructor by seeing the development of a diver relatively quickly once a few core skills and techniques are demonstrated and put into action. I couldn’t recommend highly enough taking the Peak Performance Buoyancy Specialty course to really hone those skills down. It is during this time I like to take that skills progression and also get divers thinking about equipment configurations, hose routings and places to stow those ‘goodies’ that we seem to collect.
Streamlining the equipment down not only makes diving easier, potentially safer but also more enjoyable. There is nothing that drives me more nuts when I am diving then feeling a hose flapping around in the mildest of currents, or seeing a gauge endlessly dragging in sand on less than optimum configurations. Moving a few clips, adding a few snaps and removing a few bits of clutter can quickly change the way you move in the water. You will find yourself getting closer to those anemones and towards that nudibranch than you ever thought was possible. Preventing that regulator hose getting snagged or not silting up for the next diver in behind you is always a positive right?!
If you are a photographer, videographer or getting into overhead environments these skills are even more important so you can really get in close for those macro shots, or hang motionlessly on a wall for the wide angles. You will start to realize what a difference a breath really makes, as you inhale deeply to pull yourself up and away, then scull backwards and helicopter turn off to the next corridor of that wreck site you have wanted to see for so long.
Maybe your equipment set up already seems pretty good, but moving that SMB to another location or stowing the light somewhere else is all it will take to make the difference. Perhaps your equipment is perfected but you are still struggling when swimming into currents or squeezing through between 2 rocks, the frog kick or modified flutter maybe all you need to hone those skills in. Even now I realize that there is much more for myself that can be perfected and even just talking to other divers can throw things I thought were great previously, completely out the window.
Just these few bits can make it a much easier progression to the next level, be it PADI Rescue Diver or PADI Divemaster, it is certainly one less thing to dedicate those narcosis induced brain cells to! And as I’m sure you have guessed by now, I’m quite happy to sit down and discuss that new pair of fins, long hose routing or back sculling over a beer or two – but I would prefer to be diving with you!