10 Ways to Increase Your Bottom Time

If there is one thing all divers have in common, it is that they want to stay underwater as long as possible. All too soon, your pressure gauge hits the point where you have to start making your ascent, saying goodbye to the peaceful beauty that surrounds you. One of our main goals as a training agency is to help you get in the water as often as possible and stay there as long as possible. By following these ten tips, you will be able to drastically decrease your air consumption and, therefore, increase your bottom time.

How to increase your bottom time.

1.Breathe slow and steady.

Everyone knows that when you breathe quickly and heavily, you use up lots of air, which is precisely what divers want to avoid.

By remaining calm underwater and not overexerting yourself, you can maintain a slow breathing rate, making your tank last longer.

Also, make sure you never hold your breath or skip-breathe while underwater to conserve air. This action does not prolong your bottom time and is very dangerous. Instead, the ideal breathing pattern is similar to yogic breathing. This deliberate breathing pattern is done in a slow, deep manner, usually including a six-second inhale followed by a six-second exhale.

2. Take your time.

Just as keeping your breath slow and steady conserves air, so does your movement. Moving easily and leisurely through the water keeps your heart and respiration rates low, making you breathe slower, thereby using less air. The last thing you want to do is swim here and there all over the reef or kick hard, fighting against a current the entire dive.

The best way to move throughout a dive is along a linear path, kicking slowly as you take your time to enjoy everything the reef has to offer.

If you catch yourself starting to breathe more heavily, find a way to slow yourself down and relax.


3. Stay streamlined.

All good divers know that the most efficient way to move through the water is in a streamlined position with all of your gear as streamlined as possible. This means that you are swimming horizontally through the water, parallel to the bottom and surface, not in a vertical position.

Swimming horizontally will reduce drag as you move through the water.

Keep your equipment streamlined by ensuring all gauges are hooked to your BCD with retractors or gauge clips so they do not dangle away from your body. Any gear not tucked in closely to your body will cause additional drag. Less drag makes it easier for you to swim, which reduces your heart and respiration rates.

4. Master your buoyancy.

Fine-tuning your buoyancy is one of the best ways to conserve air. The better you are at controlling your buoyancy in the water, the longer you will get to stay there. Reducing the amount of air you use to fill and empty your BCD throughout your dive leaves more air in your tank to breathe.

Whenever you make a buoyancy correction, you use air you could be breathing instead.

Feeling unsteady during your dive also increases your stress level, which, in turn, increases your breathing rate, causing you to breathe through your tank faster.

The best way to master your buoyancy is to become as comfortable underwater as possible and ensure you are correctly weighted. Wearing too much weight is not only dangerous, but it also causes extra drag during your dive. Conversely, not having enough weight will cause you to struggle throughout the dive. Make sure you do a proper buoyancy check before every dive, especially when using new equipment or when diving at a new location.


5. Get fit.

The most important thing you can do to increase your bottom time is something done out of the water, not in it.

Keeping yourself physically fit by eating healthy and exercising at least 3-5 days a week will do more to increase your bottom time than anything else on this list.

A healthy, fit body runs more efficiently, resulting in a lower resting heart rate. A lower resting heart rate is the product of an efficient heart that circulates oxygen effectively, decreasing the rate at which you need to breathe. A low respiration rate equals more bottom time for you!

6. Stay shallow.

As you learned in your Open Water Diver course, the deeper you dive, the more atmospheric pressure exerted on the air in your cylinder. As water pressure increases, you will be breathing denser air, making you use more air per breath than you would at a shallower depth. If you want to stay underwater longer, consider not diving as deep. Most colors disappear from the reef around 18 meters / 70 feet anyway, and coral thrives in shallower waters thanks to the abundant sunlight.

Therefore, staying shallow will not only make your tank last longer, but you will see more color and life on the reef.


7. Check your seals.

Most ways to increase your bottom time have to do with lowering your breathing rate underwater. However, one practical way to conserve air is to make sure none of it is leaking out of your scuba system.

Check all your O-rings, connections, and seals for leaking air before every dive.

Ensure the cylinder O-ring and your regulator’s first stage have a good seal. This connection point is one of the most popular areas for equipment to leak. Also, double-check your SPG and inflator hose, and ensure your regulators are not mildly free-flowing.

8. Keep warm.

Nothing uses up air quicker than a shivering diver. When you are losing heat, you are losing energy. Your body replaces that energy through metabolism, which uses oxygen to function. When your body increases its metabolic function, it needs more oxygen, causing you to breathe faster than normal. That is why wearing the correct exposure suit is invaluable when it comes to maintaining a comfortable temperature throughout your entire dive. Stay warm to stay down longer.


9. Continue your education.

Any time you earn a new certification, whether Underwater Photography or Wreck Diving, you become a safer, more confident diver.

It is not the subject that matters as much as the time spent with a dive professional. With their help, you learn additional tips and tricks that make you a better diver.

Some diving courses such as SSI Stress & Rescue and Perfect Buoyancy introduce specific skills to help you conserve air throughout your dive, which will help you increase your bottom time.

10. Dive, dive, dive!

Any time spent underwater adds to your comfort and confidence as a diver. Even if you are not taking a scuba course, we encourage you to get out and dive! The more dives you log, the more comfortable you become underwater, and the more comfortable you are underwater, the lower your breathing rate. One of the best ways to increase your bottom time is to achieve the lowest breathing rate possible.