Improve Your Snorkeling Technique
7 Easy Tips
The key to successful snorkeling is relaxation in the water. It is as much a psychological as it is a physical skill. You will improve your skills and become comfortable in the water with practice. Here are some training tips.
Put all your equipment on and practice floating in the face down and horizontal positions. Don’t swim; just calmly float. You can do this in shallow water or a swimming pool.
Prepare for mask and/or snorkel floods. If a flood happens in open water, it can be distressing to someone who is not ready to handle the situation. Practice this skill by floating in shallow water and deliberately flooding and clearing your equipment. Here’s how:
To flood your mask, gently pull it away from your face and allow water to enter the mask. To clear it out, lift your head out of the water and tilt the bottom of the mask away from your face and allow the water to drain out.
To flood your snorkel, immerse your head under the water until your snorkel fills up. Remember to hold your breath! To clear your snorkel, exhale a burst of air through your mouth to blast the water out. Then take a cautious first breath to make sure all the water is gone.
In the water, objects look 25% larger (or closer) than they really are. You can practice judging distance by floating in very shallow water and reaching down to touch the bottom. This will help you learn how far an “arm’s length” is underwater.
Walking with fins on can be uncertain on dry land or on a boat. If you are snorkeling from shore, try putting your fins on and removing them in waist deep water. If you are snorkeling from a boat, don’t put your fins on until it is time to enter the water and take them off at the boat ladder before getting back on the boat.
To use your fins correctly, you must use an efficient kick. You can do this by using a slow flutter kick motion. Try to keep your knees and ankles relaxed to prevent your leg muscles from cramping. Once you are proficient in this skill, you will notice that your fins propel you through the water. You will hardly need to use your arms and can let them rest easily at your side, or keep one arm floating in front of your head to act as a bumper.
Once you have mastered using your equipment, practice controlling your movements in the water. You will feel more comfortable and calm in the water as you improve your maneuvering abilities and you will minimize accidental bump-ins with objects in the water such as other snorkelers, reef elements, buoys, etc.
Knowing your personal limitations is a vital skill often overlooked. Recognize them and remain alert to them. There is no good reason to push your limits. They will change with each snorkeling opportunity presented. Factors to consider are water temperature, surge, currents, and visibility. Your personal limitations will also change when you gain experience, get older, or have a change in health.
A relaxed snorkeler gets more pleasure out of snorkeling and a greater appreciation of the environment. A calm snorkeler seems less threatening and when the aquatic wildlife realizes you are not a threat, they resume their normal routine, allowing you to experience their world.
Before You Purchase Snorkel Equipment
Snorkeling is one of the easiest, safest and most pleasant ways to explore the underwater world. Snorkel equipment is quite simple and you only need three essential pieces of gear: a mask, a snorkel, and a set of fins. The right equipment will make your experience an event to remember.
If you are going to purchase only one piece of equipment, buy a proper fitting mask. It is the most important piece of equipment for snorkeling; it is your window to the underwater world. A correctly fitted mask will keep water out. The most common reason a mask leaks is that hair is trapped under the skirt. Brush away any stray hair before trying on a mask.
Your snorkel allows you to breathe through your mouth while floating face down in the water. Using the snorkel efficiently and comfortably requires practice. After all, humans are used to breathing through their noses. To make matters easy, you can buy a snorkel with a purge valve to help remove unwanted water. Also, there are special masks for left-handed people.
Snorkel fins ought to be flexible and lightweight. There are two basic styles: full foot and adjustable strap. Full foot fins are typically lighter, but adjustable strap fins allow you to protect your feet by wearing booties. Neoprene booties guard your feet from jagged coral and any sharp objects on the bottom or in the sand.
How To Select A Snorkel Mask
Fit is the most important criteria in selecting a mask. So how do you buy a mask that fits? It's easy.
- Fold the strap over the front of the mask so that it is out of the way.
- Hold the mask against your face.
- Make sure it fits comfortably around your eyes and nose.
- Choose another size if necessary.
- While the mask is against your face, inhale through your nose.
- The vacuum created in the mask should hold it against your face when you take your hand away.
- If the mask doesn't stay put, repeat the process until you find one that does.
- Don't settle for an ill-fitting mask.
- If you find more than one mask that fits, compare the features before making your purchase decision.
How To Clear Your Snorkel
There's no doubt about it. Water will get into your snorkel, whether you submerse yourself intentionaly or a wave splashes water into it. It's an important scuba/snorkel skill you need to know.
- Allow yourself to sink below the water until you face is just under the water.
- Take a deep breath through your snorkel.
- Completeley submerse yourself and your snorkel in the water.
- Rise to your original position.
- Blow a sharp blast of air through your snorkel.
- Slowly inhale to see if there is still water in it.
- If there is still water in the snorkel, blow another short blast into it.
- When the snorkel is clear, continue to breath normally through it.
- Try not to exhale all your air on the first blast.
- When checking to see if the airway is clear don't suck in a huge gulp of air. Do it slowly.
- Perfect this skill in a swimming pool first.
How To Clear Your Snorkel Mask
Sometimes while scuba diving, water finds its way into your mask. If your mask fills with water, you can't see a thing. Not only that, it is a required skill for certification.
- Completeley submerse yourself in the water.
- Pull your wask away from your face.
- Allow the water to flood your mask.
- Continue breathing through your snorkel or regulator.
- Gently tilt your head backwards.
- Press the top of the mask against your forhead with one hand.
- Take a deep breath through the snorkel or regulator.
- Gently exhale the air through your nose. (The air will force the water out).
- When the mask is completely clear of water, replace your mask so that it has a snug fit.
- Continue to breath normally through your snorkel or regulator.
- If you fail to be successful the first time, try it again.
- If you continue to have trouble clearing your mask, check for intereferences (twisted straps, hair, or a cracked seal).
- Perfect your skills in a swimming pool first.
How To Snorkel - Teach Kids to Snorkel
"Under the Sea"-- that's where you should be, when you travel to places with coral and beautiful fish-life. Everyone should snorkel, and with a little effort, kids as young as five or six can have a fun experience.
- Start your snorkel lessons in the bath-tub, before your trip. Kids will love this idea.
- Let your child play with the snorkel, and get the hang of breathing through it.
- Now, try the face-mask-- without the snorkel. Have your child position just the front of the face-mask on his/her face.
- Make sure the face-mask fits well-- kids can't stand it when water leaks in! (See Tips, below.) Have your child inhale through the nose: the mask should stick on his/her face.
- Be sure to smooth back all stray hair! Water will leak into the face mask via any strands of hair.
- Now, pull the strap section of the mask over your child's head, and into position. This is the hard part: kids hate to feel the rubber strap pull against their hair. Pull the strap in a way that minimizes rubbing the hair.
- If your child is frustrated, stop and try another time. Once the child is comfortable with the mask, try adding the snorkel.
- The snorkel doesn't need to be attached properly, i.e. threaded through the loop on the face-mask. You can just tuck it between the face-mask and your child's face.
- Once on your vacation, do some snorkel practicing in a pool.
- When you finally try real-life snorkeling in the sea, try to find a calm place, like a lagoon. Wave action can un-nerve a child, at first.
- Bring along water-wings, so that your child's energy isn't used up just staying afloat while you're snorkeling.
- all snorkelers in your group should carefully stay away from coral. Coral is damaged when it's touched; also any contact with the coral will instantly cause a scrape or cut.
- You don't need to buy expensive snorkel sets; in fact, it may be better to buy inexpensive gear get a few extra masks, to increase your chances of getting a good fit on little faces. (Don't buy the really, really cheap little-kid sets though.)
- Make sure you're comfortable with your own snorkeling equipment. You'll have to give full attention to your child, as she/he explores this exciting new world.
- Remind your child not to kick other snorkelers in the face: kids get so absorbed in what they're seeing, they tend not to notice other snorkelers!