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A Fresh look...

This month: A Fresh LookSnorkel Diver

Snorkelling is a sport that introduces many people to our planet’s fascinating underwater world for the first time. You can sit in an armchair and look at photographs, television films and documentaries but there is nothing comparable to looking or diving down to see for yourself what is beneath the surface. The joy of feeling weightless in the water, being at one with the underwater environment and moving through the water with a great sense of freedom is why snorkelling is such an exciting activity.

Lizzie Bird

Author of BSAC’s new Snorkel Diver and Advanced Snorkeller manuals

After many months of development, the revised BSAC Snorkeller Training Programme is being released. The revised programme brings the syllabus and support materials up-to-date to support developing snorkel skills.

Foundation skills

Snorkel training provides foundation skills for all levels of divers (even rebreather divers!). The fundamental skills of efficient finning technique provide the essential starting point for effective movement through the water, with the added benefit of reduced resistance without all that cumbersome scuba kit. Of course, the need to control and manage your breathing whilst snorkelling may be slightly counter-productive for scuba divers. However, the water confidence it builds is a highly valuable commodity for any diver.

We can all learn from snorkelling

For all divers, regardless of their chosen discipline (snorkelling, open circuit scuba or rebreathers), effective snorkelling can teach us very valuable lessons, especially safety.

A fundamental, underlying problem frequently highlighted in these articles is that of diver weighting. Over-weighted divers produce problems including excess gas use, difficulty with buoyancy control and present problems with regaining or remaining on the surface in an emergency. Alternatively, underweighting has been implicated in difficulties in descending or controlling ascents at the end of a dive. Efficient snorkel diving entirely depends on correct weighting; with ‘just the right amount’ being carried to allow an efficient surface dive to overcome a slight positive buoyancy on the surface which allows for controlled surface swimming without the risk of sinking.

Essential safety kit

For swimming on the surface, a snorkel can be an essential piece of safety kit because it is designed to allow you to continue to breathe without the need to keep your mouth clear of the water. This is particularly useful in rough conditions or when you have limited buoyancy and, unlike an aqualung, the gas it uses never runs out. For semi-closed rebreather (SCR) divers, using an SCR or a closed circuit rebreather in SCR mode following a problem, one of the greatest risks is on the surface recommending bailout to an open circuit regulator or a snorkel, with the snorkel having the unlimited gas advantage noted above. You can even buy collapsible snorkels for the purpose.

Think SAFE – Dive SAFE

Jim Watson, BSAC Safety and Development manager