Bottom Time. It’s what every diver craves more of. That and longer lasting batteries. In all seriousness though, there are good ways and bad ways to try to extend your bottom time on a dive. This post is all about what to do to extend your bottom time safely, and what to avoid. I’ll say right here, this is not an exhaustive list of how to extend your bottom time, just a few ways I’ve found useful as a diver.
Extending your bottom time safely can be done the following ways without adding any significant amount of risk to yourself or others:
- Dive Often: the more you dive, the more you adjust to the rigours of the activity and the harsh conditions of underwater activity. Eventually, you’ll find your dives lasting longer and longer.
- Good Buoyancy: if you have buoyancy skills, you’ll be using less air inflating/deflating your BCD and have lower stress levels. More air means more bottom time.
- Better Cardio: improving your cardio, particularly through activities like swimming, will improve your overall fitness and make you more air efficient when you’re exerting yourself underwater.
- Dive Within Your Limits: recognize when conditions are too much for your skill level and avoid diving stressed. A stressed diver will go through their air faster.
Alright, so… how do you not safely extend your bottom time? These are the habits to avoid.
- Skip Breathing: I covered this one in Bad Habits, it’s where you hold your breath between inhaling and exhaling. Don’t do this.
- Breathing Down the Cylinder: arguably the WORST habit to get into, this is where you drain your breathing gas down to nothing or almost nothing. This leaves you nothing in case of emergency, and can leave you hanging if you misjudge how long it takes to surface. Additionally, the rapid ascents that divers with habit often do can lead to increased chances of DCI from missed or shortened safety stops.
- Skipping Safety Stops: this habit usually develops with divers who spend a lot of time in shallow water. There is no such thing as a wasted safety stop. While understandable if you’re diving in 6m water, this habit can become dangerous when you do if out of habit while diving in deeper water. This is a complacency issue.
Now, a note on NitrOx. A long time ago, I went over the myths of NitrOx in NitrOx Fun. NitrOx can potentially add to your bottom time at certain depths. The caveat continues to be that the tank won’t last you any longer than a regular cylinder will. You’ll only get the longer bottom time if you’ve already developed that ability.
Well, that’s my take on this subject. As I said, it’s hardly an exhaustive list, just habits I’ve observed and things I’ve done in my quest for maximum time at depth. Until next week, Good Luck, and Good Diving!
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