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Mask clearing and no mask breathing tips
Greg - 9/04/2006 12:00 AM
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Category: Educational
Comments: 1
Mask clearing and no mask breathing tipsTwo of the hardest challenges to overcome during open water training are clearing a flooded mask and no mask breathing. Students with problems generally are used to breathing through their nose and/or their mask doesn`t fit correctly and water constantly gets in.

They make masks with a one way valve in the nose pocket that helps a bit. But you still need to learn to mentally stop breathing through your nose when you inhale through your mouth. Otherwise, anytime you have a little bit of water in the nose pocket, you`ll breath in water and in many cases, freak out and want to bolt to the surface.

If you do get water up your nose, just pinch your nose to avoid getting more in, hold the regulator in your mouth and cough. While still holding your nose, breath for a bit while you calm down and think about what you need to do in order to clear the mask. Whatever you do, don`t bolt to the surface if you can help it...and if you do bolt, remember to always breathe (or exhale slowly if in shallow water) and control your ascent. You don`t want a little water in your mask to be the reason you suffered lung overexpansion or DCS because of a quick ascent rate.

You can practice not breathing through your nose by doing the following: Get just a snorkel and go to a pool or bathtub. With the snorkel in your mouth (without a mask), put your entire face underwater (make sure the end of the snorkel is out of the water) and practice breathing through your mouth while your nose is exposed to the water. You may need to hold your nose at first...but slowly get away from that and get to the point were you can effortlessly breath through the snorkel without getting water in your nose. Make sure to talk long, slow breathes. Practice in cold water if you generally dive in cold water.

I hope this helps the "nose breathers" out there. If you have other suggestions or would like to share your experience with mask clearing or no mask breathing, please write a blog for everyone to read.

by Greg Davis


Dorkfish - 3/23/2007 12:00 AM
Great tip Greg! The bathtub scenario is one I personally suggest for students having this type of issue. When they are in the pool or OW and having this issue initially, I use another method.

My personal alternate method is to have the student remove his/her mask in water roughly shoulder deep (by way of standing or kneeling), then bend at the neck and place the entire face (ears, nose, mouth w/regulator in mouth) in the water in a position so that the bubbles from the regulator DO NOT go up the nose. The face should be near horizontal with the bottom.

This allows them a quick recovery if they panic. I have them practice this several times until they are comfortable before having them submerge the entire head while sitting or kneeling on the bottom (since this is a big confidence issue with this type of problem). It has been quite successful with the two students I suggested it to.