Skin Diving 101: How Do I Do It?
Now that the basics of what skin diving is and what the essential equipment have been discussed, now is the time to learn the basics of what to do when skin diving. Before you jump into your bathing suits and lug your equipment towards the beach, it is advisable to practice the skills of skin diving in a pool before going at it in the real thing. The ocean is inviting, yes, but it is also very, very dangerous--especially when you are not equipped with the necessary skills.
The steps to skin diving are pretty easy. Hold your breath, dive deep into the water, explore, and swim back up to regain breathing. But do not be fooled, there are a lot of techniques that one must be well acquainted with to make skin diving an easy task to perform. Here are the things that must be learned before your big skin diving debut.
1. Finning techniques
Knowing how to swim is greatly advantageous when learning how to skin dive. When you know how to swim, you know the kicks used in skin diving. In fact, you can use all the kicks used in swimming! Just make sure to practice the flutter kick (the kick used in the freestyle or the crawl) and the dolphin kick (used when swimming the butterfly) since these are the ones that are mostly used in this kind of activity. Also, the feeling of swimming might be different with fins, so practice and make yourself comfortable with swimming with fins. Remember, the power of the kick must come from the waist and not the knees.
2. Breath holding techniques
While holding your breath, in theory, seems simple enough, the act of doing such is much harder especially when the natural urge to take a breath comes creeping into your consciousness. The thing to do is to resist that urge to breath. It may be difficult at first, but that’s what practice is for, right? One trick is to hyperventilate before diving. You can do this by taking a full breath and then emptying your lungs of the air slowly. Take three full breaths and on the fourth, keep it in and dive. While under the water, you can relieve the urge to breath by releasing a few bubbles of Carbon Dioxide (which is what actually triggers the urge to breath) from your lungs, lessening the amount of it in your body and thus tricking your mind into thinking that you are breathing regularly.
3. Different types of dives
There are two common types of dives: the Pike dive and the Kelp dive.
• The Pike dive is used to gain depth immediately. Start by floating face down on the water. Do a few kicks to give yourself a little bit of speed and momentum. As you move forward in a steady pace, bend at your waist in a 90 degree angle (pretend that you’re bowing). The momentum will push your bent body downwards. Let your legs follow the motion, the weight of the fins will push you down further into the water.
• The Kelp dive begins with you treading water in an upright position. Float on a standing position in the water while keeping your arms to your sides. Do a strong kick underwater to propel yourself upward. At the height of the ascent, stop kicking and stay still. The weight of your body, plus gravity, will bring you down to submerge in the water. From there, you can adjust your body and kick to resume your descent.
You’re finally in the water! As you go deeper, you will no doubt experience some inward pressure in your ear. Don’t worry, that’s normal. The deeper you go, the more the pressure will be until you absolutely have to get rid of it. To avoid damage to your eardrums, you must equalize every so often during your underwater explorations. One way to do it is to pinch your nose through the mask and exhale through your pinched nose. This balances out the inward pressure on your eardrums. Other ways of equalizing are by simply maneuvering your jaw sideways or by swallowing.
5. Swim back up
When you’ve found yourself unable to resist the urge to breathe any longer, begin a slow ascent back to the surface. As you kick slowly upwards, look up to where you are going, raise an arm up and rotate a full 360 degrees. This is for safety purposes. You don’t want to swim up to a boat’s propeller, do you? The raised arm will block any dangerous objects and the rotation will provide you with a clear visual of your surroundings. Save a pocket of air to clear your snorkel.
6. Clearing of the Snorkel
The snorkel will contain some water when you’ve broken back up to the surface. To clear the snorkel of the water, sharply blow out the last of your stored breath to expel the water from the snorkel. The water will issue out of the top end of the cylinder, and you can breathe normally through it again.
Congratulations, you have now made your first dive. Enjoy!