Beginner’s Guide: Using a Snorkel
If it’s your first time using a snorkel, it can feel a little bit uncomfortable at first. It’s unnatural for us to breathe with our face in the water, so getting used to breathing in this environment takes practice and patience. Luckily, there’s a lot you can do to make sure you get the most out of your experience, including taking some time to get to know your gear. Here’s a few things you can try before you even get in the water to use your snorkel effectively.
Test Your Gear
Whether you’re renting equipment or you’ve brought your own, checking everything you’ll need before you get into the water is a really good idea. Even if you’ve used this snorkel before, you want to check for cracked silicone or broken pieces, just in case. Inspect the tube, the clip that attaches to the mask strap, the mouthpiece and the opening at the top of the tube. You can practice using it in a pool or bathtub to make sure it’s not leaking. It’s better to take the time to do this now instead of getting into the ocean and realizing your gear is broken.
Practice, Practice, Practice
Snorkeling isn’t different than any other activity you’ve tried for the first time. Practice with the snorkel before you get in the water. Put your mask on, too, and get used to the feeling of having the equipment on. Practice breathing smoothly and naturally. Your breath shouldn’t feel forced and you shouldn’t be exhausted after using it. Once you’ve practiced out of the water, try it again while floating face-down in a pool or bathtub.
Know What to Expect
Not all snorkels are equal. Do you have a standard snorkel, a semi-dry, or a dry-top? This makes a huge difference in the way your gear reacts to you. Are you going to need to blow the water out of the tube after freediving? Or can you rely on a dry-top seal to keep water out? If you’re unsure about these things, ask someone at the local dive shop to help you. They’ll be able to answer any questions you have about the different types of gear and how they work.
Use as Intended
This comes down to two major factors: the placement of the tube and the way you use the mouthpiece. Traditionally, the snorkel tube goes on the left side of your face. This may seem unimportant, but mouthpieces are often made with this in mind, so wearing it on the wrong side can make it less comfortable or even more difficult to use. Speaking of the mouthpiece — it’s made to fit into your mouth easily without you needing to hold it there. There’s no need to bite down or clench your teeth or jaw. This is will only make you more uncomfortable and exhausted.
All of these tips may seem like a lot at first, but snorkeling is actually very simple. You’re not going to enjoy the experience if you’re constantly worried about every little thing. Plus, relaxing makes you appear less threatening to underwater wildlife. You’re likely to see more of the underwater world if you stay cool and collected.
The most important thing is that you enjoy yourself. Don’t be afraid to practice beforehand, even if it feels silly, so you can ensure the best possible snorkeling experience.