Courtesy of Dive Training magazine
The key to a stress-free descent that sets the stage for a safe, enjoyable dive is to relax – admittedly not always the easiest accomplishment when there are so many anxiety-producing details to think about. To help control the anxiety, begin preparations for entering the water and descending well in advance.
Take your time doing a predive equipment inspection, setting up your scuba unit and gearing up. Complete a thorough buddy check before entering. If diving from a boat, follow the instructions of the crew. Only then can you enter the water with confidence in your buddy team’s equipment and knowledge of correct procedure.
Once on the surface, make sure you are sufficiently positively buoyant to float comfortably but not bob like a cork. Check your gear again to make sure everything is fastened where it should be. If uncertain about the right amount of weight, now is the time to do a weighting test.
While you’re waiting for your buddy to enter or if you feel the anxiety building, rest for a few moments on the surface with your face in the water. This quells the instinct to hold your breath and eases the transition to the underwater enviroment. …
Many divers have trouble getting below the surface because they either fail to vent air from the BC adequately or unconsciously scull with their legs, creating upward momentum. Assuming you are properly weighted, your body is still and you’ve exhaled well, you should slowly sink, staying in synch with your buddy’s descent.
As you slip below the surface, concentrate on breathing continuously with normal inhalations and long, slow exhalations. Just below the surface, gently equalize the ears to loosen the eustachian tubes, then equalize often – every few foot or so for the first few body lengths. Remember to raise your chin to open the eustachian tubes; also stretch your neck to the side if necessary.