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Basic breathing diving – apnea

the basics of divingBreathing is the closest and most natural type of diving to humans. It is diving without technical aids that would allow us to stay underwater for longer, i.e. without autonomous equipment (air cylinder and regulator).

Man has been performing apnea since prehistoric times, when he was driven to dive for survival, i.e. for food. Lime was further developed by the search for underwater valuables, such as pearls, and was then used mainly by the military. Today, apnea is mainly practiced for sporting and recreational achievements and personal enjoyment, whether it is apnea competitions, spearfishing (of which apnea is a part) or just a relaxing snorkelling holiday.

the basics of divingThe name itself suggests that it is diving only with air that can be inhaled into the lungs at the surface. The basis of breath-hold diving is therefore holding your breath and moving underwater.

Yogis made a whole science out of holding the breath and breathing, and called it pranayama. The basic rule is not to hyperventilate before diving. Hyperventilation is dangerous because it upsets the balance of gases in the body, giving us false signs of oxygen deprivation. When breathing correctly, the exhalation is twice as long as the inhalation, and symptoms of hyperventilation are almost excluded. Before taking the last breath, first empty the lungs completely, then take the last deep breath and sink.

The second basic thing is to move underwater. The most natural way to move around is without any accessories, that is, in a swimsuit or even without one. A slightly modified breaststroke style (froggy) is usually swum underwater. Nowadays, most of us use fins for swimming, especially the stereo version (one fin on each leg), but in competitive lime diving, most of the fins used are monofins (single fin), which are more efficient and faster, but have the disadvantage of being very unwieldy and therefore not suitable for recreational diving.

Seeing underwater is also something special. Water is a medium through which light travels differently, so our vision is different underwater, and without a mask or goggles we can only see a blurry image because the eye cannot focus. When diving, the mask should be as small as possible but still have a relatively large visible area. Also make sure the rubber is silicone, as it is much softer and seals much better than ordinary rubber.

Another big factor in breath-hold diving is oxygen consumption. Our bodies need oxygen to produce energy. We cannot live without it, so we need to keep oxygen consumption to a minimum underwater. Relaxation is of the utmost importance here. Above all, we should not be afraid of water, as it will cause tension in the body, which will have a very negative effect on oxygen consumption. Euphoria, impatience and frustration have the same effect. When breath-hold diving, you need to be as relaxed as possible, both mentally and physically. Only those muscles that are used to move underwater should be tensed.

the basics of divingSince oxygen is essential for life, and since we cannot get it underwater, if we run out of it, there is a risk of drowning. As drowning is a big and real risk when diving, it is important to follow certain rules, in particular never to dive alone and never to overdo it. We should always have someone with us who is a good diver and knows how to react if we overreact. Safety must be the first priority when diving!!!

If we want to dive deep, we need to be able to balance the pressure in our ears and sinuses. Many people have already plunged into the depths and stopped at three or four metres because they felt an unbearable pain in their ears. This pain is caused by a difference in the pressure of the surroundings and the pressure in the middle ear. To equalise this pressure, you need to hold your nose and then blow hard to feel it “open” or “fill” your ears. This should be done as often as possible, or before anything hurts.

the basics of divingThe diving reflex is a set of physiological processes from our genetic memory and is triggered automatically when we hold our breath for longer and dive to deeper depths. It is this reflex that allows us to reach great depths and stay “underwater” for longer. The diving reflex lowers our oxygen consumption and directs it to where it is needed most: the brain. The diving reflex causes selective peripheral vasoconstriction, or in local terms, vasoconstriction in the legs and arms. The excess blood fills the area around the chest, protecting it from the high pressures at depth.

Other equipment consists of a snorkel, wetsuit and weights. The snorkel is useful for swimming at the surface to see the dive site. The wetsuit is an essential accessory when diving in colder waters or when in the water for longer periods of time, and the weights are for buoyancy control when using the wetsuit.

These cautions sort of round up the basics of breathing diving, if you want to know more about specific things, click further down our page or ask a question in the forum.


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