Buoyancy Session 2 – The Descent

The descent is one of the simplest parts of diving. You just deflate your BC, get ready to equalize and the fun starts. But in fact, the descent is a very important and should be well managed. Your comfort and buoyancy depend on it. You'll find plenty of disadvantages in performing an uncontrolled descent.

Let's have a closer look:

-The only one that can stop you from sinking is the bottom: So you will destroy corals or other marine life on every dive.

-If you don't descend, you will ask for more weight: instead of learning how to descend in a controlled manner, you will sink like a rock and be a hazard for all aquatic life.

Click here to learn about the buoyancy check.

-You can have serious equalisation issues: Remember that to compensate the pressure in your ears, you must be able to stop or ascend if necessary.

-You can get sick, loose orientation or experience nausea: Due to the increasing pressure in your ears and the loss of reference while rolling upside down or facing the blue, you might get totally disoriented.

-You can easily loose your group: If your group is descending slowly and easy and you sink like a rock, separation is guaranteed. Even more under circumstances like poor visibility or strong currents.

-You waste a huge amount of air: If you struggle descending and you try hard by swimming down head first, your body is making a big effort. You will get exhausted and breath stronger. Once being out of breath it is difficult to calm yourself down during the dive.

It doesn't sound simple any more, does It?


To be able to perform a controlled descent, one should focus on the its importance. The best tip would be to relax, be conscious about what are you doing and what's better to avoid. 

1. Stop Swimming!

Although we float on the surface with a inflated BC, many divers still have the instinct to swim up. Swimming is very exhausting and they spend a lot of energy which turns into a heavy breath. If you keep swimming unconsciously while descending, your kicks will bring you back to the surface, instead of descending slowly with the rest of the group. Sounds wrong, doesn't it? You will believe it is due to the lack of ballast and you will ask for more weight. You will be one of those divers who uses this always-repeated sentence:

"Once I am at he bottom I am okay, the only problem is that I need a lot of weight to go down."

Stop swimming, relax and exhale! Soon you will realise that you need much less weight than you thought.

Click here to learn about the bad habit of over-weighting.


Scuba Diving

To be able to perform a controlled descent, one should focus on the its importance. The best tip would be to relax, be conscious about what are you doing and what's better to avoid. 

2. Keep a Vertical Position

A vertical position, feet first, is very important in order to perform a controlled descent. To descend you need to empty the air that is inside your BC. Therefore it is important to understand that air only goes in one direction, upwards. If you do not stay upright while deflating, probably not all the air can escape and you might struggle descending with a half inflated BC.

So before asking for more weight or fighting and swimming to descend, check that you are in a vertical position and that your BC is totally empty. On top of that, another advantage of being vertical while descending is that you are more streamlined. Due to the position your body is less resistance to the water and you glide down slowly. Keeping the vertical position is also important to maintain orientation and eye contact with your buddy.

3. Be Conscious About The Position Of Your Fins

Your fins are a very powerful tool that we use to move underwater. They are designed to displace the maximum amount of water with the minimum amount of energy. It is very important to remember this while descending.

If you keep your legs straight but the fins horizontal, you'll find it more difficult to descend. The reason is your fins are creating resistance which means that they slow you down on your way to the bottom. Another scenario that you might experience in this position is that the fins, when putting force against the water, pull your legs upwards. As a result, you might fall backwards and end up in a horizontal position facing the surface. At this moment, you have already begun an uncontrolled descent. Bend your knees a bit and make sure your fins are vertical. Imagine you would try to stand on the tips of your toes, like a ballerina. Now you are streamlined, ready to descend and it is much easier to stay in a vertical body position.

4. Be Aware Of Your Breathing Pattern

We have already gone through the importance of breath control and rhythm. As a general rule, breathing heavy will not help you under any circumstances while diving.

Click here to read Buoyancy Session 1 - The  Buoyancy Check.

5. Establish Neutral Buoyancy

If you follow these concepts and you are properly weighted, you should descend slowly to the bottom. But although you descend gently, if you end up crushing against the corals you failed in your attempt. It is very important that you adjust your buoyancy during your way down. Remember that the deeper we go the heavier we become, so don't wait until the last moment to add air into your BC, do it progressively while descending. If it's a long descent to greater depth, adjust it a couple of times and take it easy.

To perform a controlled descent is not as difficult as it might seem. Concentrate on what you are doing and don't allow your thoughts to get distracted. As in these buoyancy series, we will deal with one thing at a time.