Getting more bottom time with the same bottle - how to become less of an air hoag
I've always been an air hoag - and getting into underwater photography only made things worse. This is not really an issue by itself, it's a bit annoying but can be managed just fine as long as your DM has a long hose to his octopus so you don't force all the group back to shorten their dive time by half.
This led me into situations where I remember in this dive in Thailand the DM simply chose to have me get back to the boat from -23m all by myself while he carried on the exploration with the others. Again no big deal (set aside security questions raised by such behavior).
When I started the CMAS 3* training - that started to be more of an issue. Training included freediving rescue exercises by -10m, 1 min breath holding by -10m and a few other feats that proved to be the actually challenging parts of the training for me - all the physical exercices were piece of cake - I run ~30km / week and am pretty fit, but on the surface being a heavy breather is not a problem.
So I started checking out solutions and found a few things that worked for me and that I'm now practicing daily
Learn to breathe: Turns out I had no clue how to breathe underwater - and NO - breathing underwater is nothing natural. The key here is to avoid the sensation/stress of lacking air while not sucking every bubble out of the regs. To do that mix those 2 techniques:
- Count to 4 slowly while inhaling - pause - count to 4 while exhaling. Try and increase / lower that figure until you find the value that you are comfortable with. I realized I was sucking air way too fast and thus felt like taking another breath way too early. You can actually train with this breathing technique on the surface until this becomes natural to you ... and you will eventually not be needing to think about it anymore
- Try to not fill up 100% of your lungs. There is no point in ballooning them, try to control when it is time to stop the intake. With the pressure and the ppO2 being higher at depth, you'll have way enough oxygen. This technique was from Philippe and this got me to make my longest dive to date (70 mins in Bayahibe despite the presence of seahorse which got me über excited)
- Breathe through your belly. I realized that for some reason I never managed to complete the 1m breath holding exercise while breathing with the thorax. But when I started using the belly that exercise become suddenly easier. A couple deep breath like that followed by a not-too-deep intake and I was able to break the mark (not much more though, the current was forcing me to use energy to remain static).
Hope this helped you guys out ! Don't forget that if you log what you've been breathing (below the profile on the profile tab), Diveboard will calculate your SAC and RMV which will help you benchmark your breathing (just make sure to input, the start/stop pressure and the tank volume - if you have a real dive profile and not a computed one, calculations will be more precise).