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The trick to getting more time out of your tanks



By Roy Cabalo

We hear the question all the time from new divers and in some cases seasoned divers as well – How do I get more time out of my cylinder?  The usual answers include “relax” or “it’ll come with time and experience” or “count through your breaths,” just to throw a few out there. However, we rarely take the extra time to explain Diaphragmatic Breathing.

Diaphragmatic what??? 

Diaphragmatic breathing is sometimes referred to as Abdominal or Belly Breathing. It’s the scientific solution for effective oxygen exchange in the body, a reduced heart rate and relaxation, whether in or out of the water. All of us actually did this from birth and in our younger years, but as we got older, we started lung breathing and getting used to shorter, less effective breaths. Freedivers have been exercising breathing management techniques for years to obtain maximum breath holds and it’s time the scuba community embraces the knowledge and shares in the benefits.

*Hint, hint* The first and most readily noticed benefit – better buoyancy control!

Rather than directing everyone to a myriad of “how-to” websites and videos, we’ll cut through all that and provide the simplest abbreviated instructions you need to focus on. This is all about the diaphragm, the primary muscle below the lungs and heart that we need to retrain.

Most instructions will have these things in common: 

  • Slow, steady, and deep inhale through the nose with a focus on watching the stomach rise, not the chest (this is very important.)  Many websites recommend placing one hand on the stomach and another on the chest to make watching the rise and fall of each breath easier.
  • Some will recommend a slight pause at the end of an inhale, some will recommend holding that breath for a count of four and some will recommend a continued breath through the exhale.  What we DON’T want to do is get divers, especially new divers, into thinking that “skip breathing” is correct in any way.
  • The exhale should be deliberate, and by that I mean tensing the stomach muscles with an equally slow and steady rhythm to get as much of the exhausted air out of your body’s dead air spaces as possible.

On the surface, you’ll be breathing in through your nose and out of your mouth through pursed lips. It will take practice – you’re trying to retrain your body to do something it hasn’t done naturally since birth.  Some find practicing easier while lying down, while others find it easier to do in a seated position. The bottom line is you have to practice five to ten minutes at a time, three to four times a day. With time this can again become second nature and the health benefits extend beyond the underwater world.

How do we apply this to scuba? 

How and when do we best apply diaphragmatic breathing to scuba . . . not at the last second before you hit the water, that’s for sure.  Ideally, after you get your dive briefing and you’ve done your buddy checks, the time is yours. Save those last few minutes to get into a good breathing rhythm, listen to the waves and water, and relax.  Combine your breathing time with some visualization and you have a common focus that will not only lower your heart rate but give you a mental picture of what your dive should look like.

Will you notice a dramatic difference immediately? Most likely not. Will you notice an appreciable difference over time? If you practice, absolutely.  This is where we break off and start a class on SAC rates, so I’ll digress and welcome our brothers and sisters from PFI to chime in and leave you with the greatest words in our sport – Dive, Dive, Dive.

To find out more about International Training, visit

From its humble beginning in 1994 to today, the group of training agencies Scuba Diving International (SDI), Technical Diving International (TDI), and Emergency Response Diving International (ERDI) form one of the largest diving certification agencies in the World – International Training. With 24 Regional Offices servicing more than 100 countries, the company today far exceeds the original vision the founders had when they conceived the idea on a napkin, sitting at a kitchen table in the early 1990’s.

Dive Training Blogs

Reef Rescue Network launches new interactive map



The Reef Rescue Network (RRN) was established in 2017 by the Perry Institute for Marine Science (PIMS) as a network of non-profit organizations and for-profit businesses committed to improving the condition of coral reefs by restoring populations of corals and other species that will build coral reef resilience. Since then the RRN has grown to include nearly 30 coral restoration sites in partnership with 25 local partners from 9 islands within The Bahamas as well as Aruba and St. Lucia. Through this partnership between coral reef scientist’s local conservation and education organizations and private businesses in the dive industry, the RRN is making significant advances in restoring coral and building reef resilience.

Visitors and locals can now immerse themselves in coral restoration activities at a partner location within the Reef Rescue Network. The network has coral nurseries that offer coral restoration experiences throughout The Bahamas, Aruba & St. Lucia. PIMS has developed a PADI Reef Rescue Diver Specialty Course that dive shops throughout the Reef Rescue Network are teaching. To participate, you must be a certified open water diver and at least 12 years old. The course takes one day and consists of knowledge development and two open water dives at a coral nursery.

You can learn how to assist with maintaining the nursery and get a hands-on experience or you can just scuba or snorkel the coral nursery as a fun dive to just observe and enjoy the nursery and marine life that it attracts. Another option is to scuba or snorkel one of the many restoration sites to view the corals that have been outplanted and witness for yourselves this habitat restoration and the marine life it has welcomed.

To find out more about the Reef Rescue Network, watch this video:

To visit the new Reef Rescue Network Interactive Map click here.

To learn more about the Reef Rescue Network visit their website by clicking here.

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Dive Training Blogs

Saving Scuba: Are We Living The Dream Yet?! (Watch Video)



Are We Living The Dream Yet?! How do we save scuba diving? A multi-million dollar industry primarily comprised of mom-and-pop shops. Non-essential. Tourism-based. And hit so hard by the Covid-19 pandemic.

In this video, I identify three key challenges to the scuba diving industry that have been amplified, but not created, by the coronavirus outbreak. Cute hashtags are not going to save scuba diving. We need a plan. We need action.

I have friends – professionals in the industry – who are suffering hardships because of this pandemic. And just because the quarantines may be lifted, it doesn’t mean everything will return to normal. People who have suffered economically because of business closures are not going to rush out and spend money on dive gear and travel.

As always, stay safe and thanks for watching. D.S.D.O, James

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Sharks Bay Umbi Diving Village is a Bedouin-owned resort with stunning views and a lovely private beach. It is ideal for divers as everything is onsite including the resort's jetty, dive centre and house reef. The warm hospitality makes for a diving holiday like no other. There is an excellent seafood restaurent and beach bar onsite, and with the enormous diversity of the Sharm El Sheikh dive sites and the surrounding areas of the South Sinai, there really is something for every level of diver to enjoy.

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