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June 2009    Download the Entire Issue (PDF) Available to the Public Vol. 24, No. 6   RSS Feed for Undercurrent Issues
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New Divers Need to Reduce Their Weights

from the June, 2009 issue of Undercurrent   Subscribe Now

Dear Undercurrent,

Regarding part two of “Why Divers Die” about overweighting in the April 2009 issue, I believe dive operators are partly responsible for overweighting divers. Their goal is to get divers down by adding weight. They do not explain that you should fully exhale, then breathe from the lower part of your lungs to break the surface. No, it’s “add weight, get them down.” This is why we see so many divers swimming at a 45-degree angle, pushing water as they go and using up air. They have too much weight on their hips so they need air in the BCD, which is on their upper body and causing the upright swim. But the divemaster got them down anyway.

I started diving 18 years ago and I’ve been a PADIcertified divemaster since 1998. I play ice hockey twice a week, lift weights and do aerobic activity four times a week, so at 62, I am above average in fitness. Here is the kicker. From the South Pacific to the Atlantic, the divemasters will ask me how many pounds I need. I wear a 2- to 3-mil shorty suit, and I reply, “Oh, two to three.” They usually hand me a weight belt with three or four pounds.

“I said two to three,” I repeat. The comeback: “You need more than that.” Now after 900 dives and divemaster training, don’t you think I would know? At this point I hand back the weight belt, say “See you at the bottom,” and over I go. As long as I breathe with my lungs not full of air, no weight is needed. However, I do like to carry weight to assist divers who need weight at safety stops.

My point: Let’s spend more time teaching divers peak buoyancy and to breathe out of an exhaled lung. Let them swim horizontally, use less air and descend in a controlled manner. Let’s give ‘em less weight, not more.

- - Craig Condron, Spokane, WA

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