• Harry Chamas

Why you should Exhale before surfacing

Welcome to the first Blog from Freedive Passion, this week we will be discussing exhaling before surfacing and why you should do it when freediving.

In your first freediving course I'm sure that you were taught to hold your breath until you reach the surface, to aid with buoyancy, not to waste any usable O2 that is in the air exhaled, and so that if you do black out you will be less likely to inhale water. Which are all valid reasons for beginners not to exhale underwater.

This blog is not for beginners, none of my blogs are, I am assuming my readers already have a half decent understanding of freediving. I also teach beginners not to breathe out until the surface, but once my divers start to become advanced, or start to pack, it's time to change a few things.

I have my advanced guys start a slow exhale before the surface, the idea isn't to be completely empty on the surface, the diver should be at about their FRC. After a bit of practice, the timing becomes very easy as it coincides with your big buoyancy change and the glide up to the surface.

Following are my reasons for recommending this:-

It can help if you surface Hypoxic.

- 9 out of 10 divers I see who are hypoxic on the surface are not doing proper recovery breathing, in fact, they tend to not even get the first exhale. This can lead to a black-out or a red card in competition. - Of cause the divers know that they should breath once they are on the surface but they are too close to the edge and can't recovery breathe properly. I find that if the lungs are not full on the surface, it is more instinctive to take a breath in, this might be all it takes to get you breathing again and recover from you're LMC.


You will have fresh air in your lungs sooner.

- After your dive, the most important thing is to re-oxygenate your body. If you are ready to take your first inhalation as soon as you surface, you are re-oxygenating your body sooner than if you had to exhale first.


It will make you less likely to Squeeze.

- After a deep dive your lung capillaries will have a lot of blood inside due to blood shift. - During the last part of the assent your lung volume rapidly increases - This applies two fold if you pack for your dives - As the lungs are increasing in size there may not be enough time for the blood shift to leave the lungs causing a unnatural amount of pressure. This pressure has been seen to cause lung squeezes.


As you can see there are many benefits to exhaling on the last part of the assent. One word of warning is to make sure there are no waves that could splash into your mouth as you inhale, that's not nice. On the same point, I will keep my head tilted slightly down as I inhale so the water draining of my head won't go into my mouth.

I hope this blog has been informative and useful, I'd love to hear your thoughts/experiences so please comment below.

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