Snorkeling is a fun water activity. When you get to the most beautiful islands in the world such as the Hawaii and Philippines, make sure that at least try snorkeling so you can appreciate the beauty and richness of marine ecosystems.
Snorkeling is a relaxing activity once you get used to it. If you are planning to go snorkeling, get yourself snorkeling gear that will make you comfortable and provide you with a great snorkeling experience.
But do snorkels improve performance? Do we really need snorkels when we want to observe the ocean deep from the surface?
What is Snorkeling?
Snorkeling is the practice of swimming on a body of water with the help of equipment specifically the diving mask, the breathing tube called the snorkel, and fins. A wetsuit is usually worn in colder environments.
This equipment allows the snorkeler to watch the underwater environment for longer periods of time with little effort and to be able to breathe while their face is down in the water without having to pull up for air.
History of Snorkeling
In Aristotle’s Parts of Animals, Aristotle mentioned about the use of “instruments for respiration” that resemble the trunk of an elephant.
Evidence like this suggests that snorkeling may have originated in Crete some 5,000 years ago. During these years, sea sponge farmers made use of hollowed out reeds to plunge in the water and recover natural sponge for trade and commerce.
A snorkel is a tube made of rubber or plastic which is typically about 30 centimeters long and has an inside diameter between 1.5 and 2.5 centimeters.
It is usually J- or L- shaped and has a mouthpiece at the lower end. The maximum length of a snorkel can be as much as 40 centimeters.
A snorkel cannot be longer than this because it would be too difficult if not impossible to breathe when going any deeper since the water pressure would be too high.
The lungs would be unable to draw air from the snorkeler because lungs were not meant to function in such high pressure.
Dangers of Snorkeling
While snorkels help snorkelers breathe continuously while observing beneath the surface of the ocean, breathing through snorkels might constitute respiratory dead space.
The snorkeler takes in fresh breath but some of the previously exhaled air which remains in the snorkel is inhaled again.
This decreases the amount of fresh air in the inhaled air which then increases the risk of carbon dioxide build up in the blood that might lead to hypercapnia.
Hypercapnia is a condition where there’s elevated level of carbon dioxide in the blood. This hinders access to oxygen which can be fatal.
Do Snorkels Improve Performance?
Yes, snorkels improve performance because they make swimming convenient, fun, and saves time and energy. With the use of snorkels, you don’t have to get up to the surface for air.
You just have to use the mouthpiece of the snorkel to breathe through. Typically, snorkels have an average length of 30 centimeters and an inside diameter of 1.5 to 2.5 centimeters.
However, snorkels can’t help you improve performance in the water when it has a length of more than the maximum length of 40 centimeters. The deeper the water, the higher the pressure and the lungs would not be able to function properly with longer snorkels.
Safety Precautions When Using Snorkels
To ensure that snorkels improve performance in water activities, instruction and an orientation from an experienced snorkeler or tour guide is recommended.
The use of snorkeling doesn’t require special training but instructions will help a lot in improving the snorkeling performance and experience.
The orientation and instruction should include the proper usage of equipment, basic safety, conservation instructions, and what to look for. It is also recommended to wear inflatable vests that are usually bright yellow or orange.
Although vests prevent you from free diving to deeper depths, they protect you from drowning. They are intended to be bright and colorful so you will stand out and be visible, especially to those on motor boats and jet skis.