Watch The Attitude

By Tec Clark


When was the last time you had an attitude check? No, not that Rushmore-sized chip on your shoulder or the way you flex your pecs in the new dive skin cuz you think you’re all that. A diver’s attitude as described in this article is the bodily posture assumed when moving through water.

Under normal conditions the ideal diving posture is horizontal and prone with arms at the sides roughly parallel to the direction of travel. The prone position is natural when utilizing the flutter kick and is useful when swimming above a reef, wreck or other diving site. As a diver swims through the water, the efficiency of movement becomes key when considering air consumption and exertion. The more surface area exposed to the water, the greater the resistance upon the diver’s motion. Streamline BCD's like the Zeagle Express Tech BC which can be found on Scuba.com, will reduce the drag on the diver. Since the medium of water is approximately 800 times more dense than air, proper attitude is essential. Another term associated with attitude is trim. Trim entails proper posture and the streamlining of equipment to minimize water resistance. As a diver’s attitude changes so will the trim which in turn affects hydrodynamics.

Even if you know the proper attitude, equipment can be a hindrance. If a diver is overweighted, the legs often are angled significantly below the waist and the head is angled high above the waist. This causes tremendous resistance as the diver moves in a horizontal direction. Plus, the propulsion generated from the fins is angled down toward the bottom, which can stir up sand or silt and even harm plant life. If a diver’s feet are angled high up above the waist and the head is down, then the diver is most likely too buoyant and may become fatigued from kicking to stay down. Ankles weights like the Seasoft Ankle Weights can be used to trim the the diver in water. There are some great choices for these type of items at Scuba.com.

Water movement and bottom composition have a great deal to do with a diver’s ideal attitude. Wrecks, walls and caves provide adaptations to normal body positioning. When a diver is swimming with the flow of water, a “flare-out” to broaden the surface area of the body and catch as much water as possible can be beneficial, as it minimizes the effort required to move through the water.

A common wall diving technique has the diver gliding by the wall in a more upright position. To prevent low visibility situations, cave divers modify their attitudes by bending their knees and modifying kicks to prevent silting. In this posture, the head is horizontal with the waist, yet the feet are positioned above both.

Wrecks are often large structures that become an obstacle to natural currents. For this reason, they have very unusual dynamics with respect to water flow, so streamlining and trim become very important since anything that dangles may get caught quite easily. And in any high current situation, a diver’s body will act like a wing, and a head-down, feet-high position may accelerate one’s descent.

With varying dive environments come varying postures. As you switch up the latitude, don’t forget the change in attitude. Tec Clark is the Director of the YMCA Scuba Program.