Snorkeling Skills: The Complete Guide To Snorkeling (Part III)
Get your Flippers and Mask on with our guide to getting the most from your snorkeling
This last article of our guide to snorkeling, we’ll cover in-water techniques to get the most of your snorkeling trips.
You'll learn everything from not overexerting yourself, to extending your time on breath-hold dives, these tricks will help you become a better snorkeler.
You’re finally here, ready to jump (or wade) into the water and start your snorkeling trip on your holiday.
You’ve done your preparations, as per our first part of the snorkeling guide and you’ve selected the best possible snorkeling equipment for you (whether you rent or purchase it), again as per our second part of the snorkeling guide. And now it’s time to do what this is all about, experience the undersea world.
But your snorkel trip won’t come to much if you run out of energy after the first 10 minutes.
Conserving Energy While Snorkeling
Going for a leisurely swim in tropical waters may not sound like serious exercise, but make no mistake, snorkeling can take it out of you! Even in very warm water, your body loses heat continuously, due to water’s heat capacity being greater than air’s.
And propelling yourself forward with fins on requires some energy as well.
Add to this that snorkeling trips can be all-day things, with hours spent in the water, and you can see why thinking about keeping your energy expenditure down is useful!
As with scuba diving, the first rule is to slow down, relax, and let your fins do the work for you.
Being in water is a new experience for most, so taking the time to relax your body and mind is a big first step.
Many new snorkelers have a tendency to try and swim along using their arms, like they’d do in a pool. But our legs, in particular with fins on, outperform our arms many times over. So a good way to conserve energy is to keep our arms relaxed at our sides and focus on our fins instead.
And don’t kick too hard, even a leisurely kicking pace is enough to drive you forward, and moving too fast just means you’ll zoom by interesting sights.
Plus, kicking too hard and flailing with your arms creates a lot of splashing that will scare away the very animals you’re there to see!
Conserving your air while snorkeling
Breath deep and slow. Breathing through a snorkel can be quite different from breathing without one.
Taking deep breaths is important to get the most out of it. Taking deep breaths also helps keep your heart rate down, which in turn helps you relax and conserve energy.
Many snorkelers are completely happy staying in the surface throughout their dive, and in that case, they should.
While others feel the urge to take short dives on a breath-hold to get closer to reefs, marine animals, or other features in the deep. To get the most out of your single breath, there are a few things you can do:
First foremost, relax.
Take a few moments in the surface to move as little as possible and get your breathing under control.
Then, take a few deep, controlled breaths.
Don’t hyperventilate! This was taught on scuba courses years ago, but has since been proven to be counterproductive. Simply breathe deep and slowly to fully fill and empty your lungs. Then, take an extra deep breath, making sure to fill up your diaphragm first, then chest, and finally the very top of your torso.
When you’re ready for your descent bent 90 degrees at the waist so your torso is submerged and vertical in the water, and raise your leg up so they, too, are vertical but above water.
The weight of your legs will drive you into the depths, saving you energy in the process. As your fins reach the water, use them to gain further depth.
This is much, much more efficient than the swimming ascent you often see inexperienced snorkelers attempt.
Once your underwater, relax.
Most people can significantly improve their breath holds simply by slowing down and relaxing. Swim slowly and efficiently, seeking to streamline your body and making every movement about propelling you forward.
Err on the side of conservatism. Come up well before you run out of air, and slowly extend your bottom time for each time you dive. Soon, you’ll get a feel for how long you can stay down safely, and most likely, it will be considerably longer than your first venture under the surface.
What’s Your Best Tip For Snorkeling?
What’s the best tips you could give a fellow snorkeler? Share it in the comments below.