The snorkel has to be one of the most maligned or taken for granted piece of equipment in the kit bag of a freediver. It is great for buddying or extended periods of waiting, watching or relaxing on the surface, and although some freediving agencies and some individual instructors seem to teach freediving with little or no snorkel use, for me it is one of the pieces of equipment that can make the biggest difference to the experience of our wonderful sport, especially to beginners and relatively inexperienced freedivers. But, its correct use is not often taught it is just assumed that it is known!
- Simple tube design (no valves or caps needed)
- Rigid or moderately rigid material (silicone is good)
- An attachment to clip it to the mask if and when required
- Wide opening and bore diameter to allow good air flow
- Adjustable mouth section can be desirable to create the optimum angle
So what can go wrong with such a seemingly simple piece of equipment? Well, as just one example, bad positioning or incorrect angle can lead to swallowing some water, especially if an unexpected wave arrives. This can result in a reduction in confidence in equipment and/or ability, which leads to a reduction in relaxation and consequently an increase in anxiety levels before the freedive. You get the picture. This knock on effect can quickly reduce the enjoyment of a freediving session.
- Hold it loosely in your jaw, not clenched (there is no bonus for biting through it!) And let the tip of your tongue sit at the entrance to the snorkel mouth piece (between your teeth), to sense any water that enters before you inadvertently breathe it in
- Angle it correctly so it points up (not forward) when you are relaxing and lying face down on the surface before your dive. Turn more with your whole body if you need to look a long way to the sides. This avoids dipping the top of the snorkel in the water
- Always inhale a little more cautiously than normal and remember to keep the breathing slow and calm, using the diaphragm, with longer exhales
- Take it out the mouth during the dive! It is no use underwater and can in fact be dangerous to leave it in your mouth as it is a passageway for water into the lungs if you black out
- Use it! I often see people during the session, such as when putting on fins, and they struggle for breath and to complete a task when they could be using the snorkel to breathe AND be face down in the water doing what they need to do