THE AIR HOG
by Bruce Chadwick MA, M.Div.
May 7, 2020
Perhaps you’ve heard of the “air hog.” This is the diver on the boat who runs out of air first, and usually way before anyone else. He is also the person who has difficulty finding a dive buddy. After all, who wants unused air in their tank because they were forced to chaperone an air hog to the surface? So what causes the air hog and how can he remedy this shameful reputation?
Before we come down too hard on the air hog, we should remember that all of us at one time or the other were probably air hogs. It’s a simple fact that when a person is excited, nervous, or unsure, one’s heart rate will increase. With this usually comes fast and shallow breathing. Unfortunately in scuba, getting out of breath and having increased heart rate are the culprits that quickly burn air supply and reduce dive time.
Divers should learn to breathe slowly and practice the slow breathing technique on every dive. Slow breathing decreases turbulence, which makes it easier for air to move through the windpipe. As well, divers should learn to breathe in and out deeply. This helps to minimize air loss due to dead air space.
Also as they breathe in full lungs of air, divers should practice keeping the air in their lungs for a moment before exhalation, to give their body time to absorb as much oxygen as possible. Note that this is not a violation of the first rule of scuba, which is to always breathe continuously and never hold one’s breath. Rather this is breath control and the mark of an experienced diver.
Lastly, divers should move slowly, deliberately, and leisurely through the water. They should take their time and enjoy their surroundings. They should also maintain good trim, secure gear so it doesn’t dangle, and learn to cut though the water like a fish. Put together, all of these factors reduce diver air consumption and maximize dive time.