Anxiously Waiting to Grow Gills

Buddy Breathing…

Even just the thought of doing it gives me some anxiety (surprising right? Maybe this blog should be called “Adventures of an Anxious Babe).

Buddy breathing is where, when you run out of air (which should not be happenin) you can use the same regulator to breath out of as your buddy. You take two breaths, they take two breaths, and you just pass it between the two of you while you surface.

Hey baby, I'll share some air with you

Easy Peezy right?

I bet any non divers reading this are like, “Are you kidding me??”

There’s a lot of reasons this shouldn’t come up, mainly the fact that most people dive with Octopus regulators now (which is like, everyone dives with 2 second stages, so if you run out of air, you can both breath out of your buddy’s tank without having to share the same mouth piece..I’m trying to put this in layman’s terms and it’s not going well….)

So a week ago, I went to a Dive Safety class at the Aquarium, which is required once a year. There were 18 of us, and after a written test, and review of safety procedures, we dropped into an exhibit, 6 of us at a time to do Out of Air scenarios with a buddy.

My buddy was a Saturday afternoon team captain named Rich, who is such a safety oriented SCUBA diver I felt concerned that I was going to let him down, freak out, and just like, keep his regulator in my mouth until we both ran out of air (which at that depth would have taken days). Of course we were only 28 feet down, and of course there was a gigantic crowd of people watching, not to mention the fact that there 17 Rescue Divers (Rescue Divers and higher certs!) diving near me, I was really more worried about losing face, because SCUBA should always be safety first, and you have to look calm and competent and also BE calm and competent.

Rich and I drop into the exhibit. I’m wearing gear someone just handed to me, and it’s a Large BCD instead of the Extra Small I normally wear. Basically I look like i’m wearing Daddy’s Dive Gear, and i have the tank knocking into my calves (off to a great start). We are at opposite ends of the exhibit and I signal to Rich that I’m out of air, take my reg out of my mouth and swim over to him (maybe 10 feet away?) exhaling bubbles all the while. I get to Rich and feel a cringe of anxiety. He’s obviously inhaling and I’m just about to run out of exhale. For whatever reason, when you are underwater without an air source in your mouth, the time just seems so stretched out. But being underwater is also really meditative. Rich and I are making eye contact and he hands me his regulator, and I suck the air in, exhale slowly and inhale again. I hand him his reg back.

Rich is calm and not at all rushed. We complete a cycle of maybe 5 breaths each, really getting into the groove, me relaxing, us making constant eye contact and body contact. Finally he signals to me that we should switch positions, and we do, him simulating out of air, that so lovely gesture of your hand slicing across your throat and he swims to me, and we do it all over again. I feel calm now, or at least I feel in control. and I also feel accomplished, like something that worried me, something that stressed me out, could be conquered.

We surfaced doing a CESA….A Controlled Emergency Swimming Ascent. Rich told me it was a pleasure to dive with me. I’m fairly certain he was just being polite, because he’s a really nice guy, but I also felt like, Hey man, i’m not dead either.

It just got me thinking, I spend a lot of time underwater, and as careful as I am, out of air scenarios are super unlikely….for me. But I might be with someone who’s not as careful, and practicing this skill makes me feel so much more competent and able to handle it.

Plus, it was really fun.

signing out. xMerbabe

Don't let this happen to you.

PS please ignore the fact all that reg sharing stuff sounds vaguely sexual.

One thought on “Anxiously Waiting to Grow Gills

  1. I would like to say I personally feel buddy breathing is a thing of the past. It doesn’t work in real life. It works as a great stress skill in a Divemaster course but not as a good means to rescue anyone. Let me put it this way, here you have a diver who is not being a great diver and not checking their air. This same diver runs out of air. They come to you freaking out looking for air. Is it really a good idea to give a horrid diver who is freaking out your only source of air. I say no. I would grab them from behind, take them to the surface, let them pass out if need be, and deal with it at the surface. Giving them your only regulator is a good way to go from one dive casualty to two dive casualties. I learned it my open water and I always hear old school instructors talk about how everyone should learn it. To me it is a relic of the past. That being said, we all should have an alternative 2nd stage regulator. Here is something I found funny when I learned buddy breathing in my open water course in Humboldt. This is how it was explained to me;

    Think of it as a joint. No one likes anyone who hogs the joint right? The reg is the same way. Just puff, puff, pass, and keep it moving.

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