We read about it...but do we actually apply what we learn all the time? The book and your training tells you not to dive when you’re overexerted. And if you do become overexerted while underwater, you’re supposed to stop, hold onto something for support and breath deeply in attempt to calm down and relax.
But here’s what usually happens when a diver gets overexerted and is underwater...you start to panic, your eyes get VERY wide, you want everything off and you want to bolt to the surface! Not safe, not safe at all.
So here are two tips from real world experience and from seeing it happen to several new divers:
1. DO NOT start diving until you are relaxed and your breathing and pulse is normal. It’s very complicated to catch your breath underwater...so inflate your BCD and lay back in the water to relax and catch your breath on the surface before you start the dive. Don’t be embarrassed to tell others you’re diving with that you need a break. If you need to swim out far to reach a buoy or decent point...just go ahead and plan on waiting at the buoy for a bit to get your breath back after the long surface swim.
2. DO NOT spit out your reg and bolt to the surface if you do get overexerted underwater. This may sound crazy...but panicked divers want everything off! Including their regulator...the only thing that is supplying them with air. They just want out of the water and fast! Instead, try to do what the book says (stop, hold onto something for support with one hand, breath deeply while holding in your regulator with the other hand, maybe close your eyes to relax if the situation allows it). If you must get out of the water...do it smart. Hold in your reg with one hand and put the other hand on the deflate button of your BCD (to help control your ascent)...start up slowly and just keep breathing! When you reach the surface, inflate your BCD, lay back and rest.
Run through these things in your head from time to time so you’re mentally prepared when the situation comes up. After enough mental practice, you’ll be physically prepared when it does happen and your training will kick in and take control of the situation.
Stay smart and dive safe!
Owner and Member #1 (also a scuba instructor :)