The Open Water Skill of Proper Weighting

Scuba diving women swims through a school of fish.
It's another world down there! Learn what to expect on your first scuba dive. © Getty Images
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Aim, Reason to Learn, and Step One

Proper Weighting Step 1
Proper Weighting Step 1. Nicholas McLaren

Aim: To check that you are properly weighted in the water.

Reason to Learn: One of the main reasons for divers using too much air and bumping into coral and bottom features is not being properly weighted. By checking for proper weighting, or performing a buoyancy check, you can ensure that you have the correct amount of weight based on your body, exposure suit, and equipment. You should do this check whenever you change diving locations, exposure suits or equipment, or haven't dived for a while.

Step One: Make sure you do this check in water that is too deep to stand in and is the same as the water you'll be diving in - ie. a freshwater swimming pool won't help to check weighting for diving in the ocean (which is salt water). If you have a full cylinder you should add approximately 2 pounds (1 kilogram) to compensate for the fact that your tank will become more buoyant throughout the dive.

You should start when you are relaxed and positively buoyant in the water.

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Step Two

Proper Weighting Step 2
Proper Weighting Step 2. Nicholas McLaren

Take a regular breath from your regulator and hold it - this is the only time in scuba diving that you're ever allowed to hold your breath. Remember not to take a deep breath, just a regular breath.

Holding your deflator above your head, let all the air out of your BCD by pushing your deflate button.

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Step Three

Proper Weighting Step 3
Proper Weighting Step 3. Nicholas McLaren

You should float at eye level. Some people float at forehead level or chin level, although eye level is most common. The important thing is that you're not sinking and not floating, but remaining steady.

If you don't remain steady at eye (or other part of the head) level and begin to sink you have too much weight - remove a unit of weight and restart the exercise from Step One. If you float, you don't have enough weight - add a unit of weight and restart the exercise from Step One.

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Step Four

Proper Weighting Step 4
Proper Weighting Step 4. Nicholas McLaren

Exhale completely - you should begin to sink in the water. If you don't sink, try to exhale even more. If this still doesn't work, you need more weight - add a unit of weight and repeat the exercise from Step One.

It's important not to kick your fins while exhaling as this can push you up and make it seem like you're under-weighted when this is not the case. Try to keep your body quite still while performing this exercise.