Better Air Consumption

Many divers have a contest for who can stay down the longest or come up with most air. One diver I know hung around in 20 feet of water the entire dive just to win! That’s OK I suppose as long as they enjoyed the dive and saw a fish or two. Other divers simply want to improve their air consumption and have a longer dive.

There are so many ways to improve air consumption and one of the first is to listen to those who have experience and good suggestions. I cannot count how many times I have tried to help other divers who simply said,” I have been diving for 20 years and nothing helps. I use a lot of air”. On the other hand, I have had divers say” I have been diving for 20 years and thank you for your suggestions. I cannot believe how much I have improved.”

The first question in my mind is how many dives is 20 years. Is that one week a year for 20 years which is a total of 20 weeks of diving. And how many dives during that week? Someone who has only been diving for 6 months could have infinitely more experience than some who say they have been diving since 1981.


Read my articles on weights and BCD wars. Getting oneself correctly weighted and balanced can improve air consumption dramatically. Nothing uses air as much as carrying too much weight around and swimming in an inefficient (unbalanced) manner. Another suggestion is simply don’t go as deep. The shallower you are the less air is used. Many divers enter the water already tired from struggling to put on the equipment or hurrying to keep up with others. SLOW DOWN. There is no need for you to keep up with the person who gets suited up the quickest. Actually, if it is a group the faster ones should slow down a bit to accommodate the others.

The same thing goes when underwater. Watching an efficient diver, you see a nice easy breathing pattern. Watching a diver who is kicking inefficiently or jetting all over the reef, you see huge volumes of air being used. If you see a lobster there is no need to yell, swim frantically to you buddies to tell them and then swim frantically trying to find the lobster again. If no one is near enough to show them, simply tell them about it after the dive. I have watched divers get so excited about trying to tell everyone that they float to the surface because of all the air going in and out of their lungs.

I have seen small people go through a large tank in 30 minutes. Large people go through a small tank in 60 minutes. So size is not an excuse. If you have noticed, I have used the word efficient many times in these few paragraphs and efficiency is a big key in using less air. How you achieve that is up to you. If you read, practice, watch and listen you are on your way.

These are just a few of the ways to help. Watch other divers and see how efficient or inefficient they are. Then apply the efficient methods to yourself.

Bruce Bowker