The Importance of Not Drowning – How to Properly Weight Yourself
The first thing you should consider is to take a freediving course from a qualified instructor. This article does not in any way, shape, or form replace proper training. The article is simply going over some basic weighting principles to help increase safe freediving and spearfishing practices. This article isn’t designed to teach you every element of how or why you need to be properly weighted. It is just a quick article about the mechanics of being properly weighted.
Why Proper Weighting is Important
The reason you should always be properly weighted while freediving is the risk of shallow water blackout. Blackouts are one of the biggest risks we face as freedivers. This article is not going to go into the details of how, why or what happen during a shallow water blackout in great detail. That being said, the result of a shallow water blackout is temporary unconsciousness and a passive exhale (loss of control of the airway) at the surface. The combination of these two things put a diver at great risk of drowning. It also allows us to plan on how to weight ourselves on the surface. We want to float at the surface after a passive exhale.
How to Determine How Much Weight You Need
The best way to determine the amount of weight you need on your weight belt is to start small. Every diver is different and the amount of weight you need is different between salt and fresh water. The thickness of your wetsuit is also a factor in how buoyant you are. That means a thicker suit will need more lead weight to ballast a diver. It is a good idea to have a few solid weights and possibly a few quick weights to allow for quick adjustments in the water.
At the surface start with a few pound of lead on your belt and do a passive exhale. A passive exhale is just a light exhale, like a normal breath. Don’t try and blow all the air out of your lungs and see if you sink. Without kicking your fins you should be floating roughly at eye level, or all least that is your goal for proper weighting. You will likely need to make small adjustments to get to this point in the water.
How To Double Check
Another way to confirm you have the correct amount of lead weight on your dive belt is to dive down to 30 feet and see if you are neutrally buoyant. If you are sinking like a stone at that depth you are probably over weighted. If you find yourself floating up to the surface without kicking you might need to add a few more pounds of lead.
Again, if you need this article you should reach out to a qualified freedive instructor and get certified to freedive. The information in a freedive course will help make you a better and safer diver, not to mention a better dive buddy.