Why should a diver be concerned with her or his body position while scuba diving? After all you’re just floating around down there – right?
But the position of your body underwater, as it relates to the bottom terrain, affects a number of different conditions. And you should keep aware of every one. Each condition by itself might mean the difference between a fun dive, and a dive that neither you, nor your dive buddy, look back on with fond memories.
The ideal dive position for a diver is horizontal to the reef, or bottom. A level body attitude lets the diver move easily, and comfortably, through the water. The parallel orientation gives the diver longer dive times, and a better view of the aquatic world beneath.
That makes for a scuba adventure to cherish, or to talk about over drinks the evening back at the hotel.
As you dive check out the positions of other divers around you. You’ll see a huge variety of body positions as they fin through the water.
Some of those positions are effective. Experienced divers know how to trim their body for the most efficient profile. When you’re on a tropical outing most of the experienced divers you see are the dive masters that lead the groups on underwater tours.
Many divers in each group lack experience. Some divers get the opportunity to enjoy the sport only a couple times each year while they’re on vacation. Those once or twice a year adventurers get rusty between underwater excursions.
Among those scuba diving groups you’ll see divers swimming at various angles compared to the bottom. The angle of their position comes either head-up-feet-down, or head-down-feet-up.
Rather than slicing straight through the water they drift upward or downward. This happens as they struggle against the drag of the water.
A struggling diver has no fun on a dive. Results of that struggling includes:
Short dive times.
Death of coral.
When a diver fins along at an angle, the water grabs at his gear. That creates increased drag, and the diver grows tired much quicker. That fatigued condition means the diver will wait longer between dives because he’s too tired to get back into the water when the boat stops at the next dive site. Fewer dives result in decreased diving pleasure.
When you grow tired you breathe faster. You lose control of your scuba breathing techniques. The air in your tank doesn’t last very long. And time to go back aboard the boat, or on shore, comes too early. This not only means you enjoy a short dive, but your buddy does too.
A “fin down” position kills coral as your fins brush against the reef while you swim along. Often the diver doesn’t have any idea when this happens.
Figure out your normal dive attitude. Ask your partner to evaluate how your body positions itself underwater. Experiment with trim weights at different spots on your body until your attitude stays parallel, and level.
When your body remains horizontal you, and those who dive around you, enjoy much more scuba diving fun.