THE WEIGHT DEBATE
Back on the tender boat, Helga told the group what had happened. “Well, you’ve obviously been wearing too much weight!” said one person.
“Maybe you don’t actually need any weight at all,” said another, indicating that Helga hadn’t even noticed that she had left her weight-belt behind until her husband had pointed it out.
A third diver began a short speech about how it was always best to wear as little weight as possible, because carrying too much on your belt affected your posture in the water and pushed your legs down. Then, adding air to your BC to compensate for the excess negative buoyancy lifted your head up and made you look like a seahorse.
Also, he added, extra air sloshing around in your BC made it hard to keep your balance, and all that rocking and rolling increased your air consumption.
A few heads nodded in sage agreement.
However, a fourth diver objected; while all that might well be true generally, it certainly didn’t apply in Helga’s case. They had all been diving together for a week and, as far as he could see, even when she had been wearing her weightbelt, Helga’s posture and stability in the water were as good as those of any diver he had seen.
And she always had more air left at the end of a dive than the rest of their group.
These, everyone acknowledged, were all good points. The conversation moved on.
Helga had noticed three things during her almost-weightless dive. The first was that she had not added any air to her BC at all.
The second was that her lower back had started to hurt during the second part of the dive, which was unusual, and the third thing was that she had found it more difficult to stay completely still while she was taking photographs.
She concluded that, after 20 dives in her new suit, she evidently no longer needed to wear more weight to compensate for its newness.
She had managed to do the dive with only the 1kg her husband had lent her, yet she had missed the sensation of being rock-solid and “centred” in the water that she usually felt.
She also guessed that her lower back pain might be associated with her subconsciously arching her spine towards the end of the dive, as her cylinder gradually emptied and became increasingly positively buoyant.
Her conclusion was that, while she had shown that she could accomplish a normal dive using only 1kg of weight, and was even able to descend wearing no weight at all when her cylinder was full, this was not a justification for changing the way she dived.
Yes, the advice that divers should carry less weight on a dive to improve their posture, balance and air consumption was entirely well-placed, but this did not mean that a diver should therefore carry less weight than they needed.