19 Jan

PADI Open Water – Find the ideal weight

As a PADI Instructor, I constantly get students coming to me confused about how much weight they need in order to sink. When you begin your diving career, and are still getting used to your breathing style and the fact that you are freaking out underwater, it is sometimes ok to wear a little extra weight in order to stop compounding factors. However, when a fifty kilogram girl comes to me and tells me her dive instructor conducted her Open Water course with a whopping five kilograms, I think of a female shaped hole in the reef as she descends. I tell my students to make like George Clooney in “Gravity” (spoiler alert…) as he floats away to save his space buddy. We want to feel like a feather in a puddle, floating gently from side to side with nothing but our breath to guide us. In order to do this, we need to learn to dive neutrally buoyant early on. If divers learn to descend over weighted, they never want to let that security blanket go.
PADI Open Water
As a beginning diver embarking on your PADI Open Water course, there are some great tips in order to master buoyancy early one. First of all, breath out! Sounds simple, but this is often a difficult task to ask of someone who is underwater for the first time. When we are in an environment without air to breathe, seems a bit counter-intuitive to breathe out everything we have! However, a full exhale will not only calm you down, but will allow you to sink slowly and comfortably into the water, like a nice big wet hug. Once you begin to feel yourself sink, small inhales will allow you to control your descent to the bottom, slowly and without effort. I like to assume the skydive position, controlling my breath and watching as the bottom slowly comes to greet me. If I am properly weighted, breathing is the only control I need, and as long as I am shallow I can leave my BCD empty, using nothing but my lungs to glide me across the reef.
How do we find our ideal weight? We can do a buoyancy check at the surface, as outlined in your PADI Open water course! While holding a normal breath we should float weightless at eye level in the water, and descend slowly as we start to exhale. If we are wearing a nice big fancy wetsuit, we might need to fill it a bit with water in order to aid us in the descent. Some more experienced divers will swim very slowly downwards to start in order to allow the natural compression of the suit to take over around five meters. Most importantly, when finding the ideal weight, it is about practicing, and challenging yourself to dive with less weight. Focus on those exhales, the nice controlled breathing pattern, and you will be skydiving underwater in no time.
I hope you found these tips helpful as you continue on your dive journey – want to get more out of your diving? Sign up for a PADI Dive Internship with us today!

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