The Freediving Snorkel
For freediving, it’s best just to stick to a simple J snorkel that is contoured to fit in your mouth. There are plenty of scuba snorkels out there where the tube is corrugated like a drinking straw, which you have to bend to fit in your mouth. This is to keep the snorkel out of the way when you are breathing through a regulator which obviously as a freediver you don’t need.
Of course you can still use this type of snorkel if you’re stuck with no other option but it does require more effort to stay in your mouth and it’s harder to relax your facial muscles, so probably best to leave this type of snorkel to scuba diving.
The snorkel needs to be light and not top heavy. There are plenty of snorkels on offer which are designed to reduce the amount of water that get into the tube, but this comes at the expense of having some sort of plastic air filter thingy stuck on the end of the tube which when in the water creates drag and bangs around too much. It’s much better a simple open ended tube which you shouldn’t even notice if it’s set up right.
Also available on the market are tubes which have slits as the opening instead of a hole. Obviously this results in less water getting in, but also less air. Personally I don’t like restrictive air flow in my snorkel and the benefits of less water in the tube are lost against the costs of less air and a more difficult time trying to purge it in case a little water does get in.
Try to avoid ones with purge valves built into the mouthpiece as well. Half the time they don’t work and let out air as well resulting in it taking more effort to get the water out.
Most people (looking at you scuba divers) set up the snorkel in totally the wrong way… maybe because we tend to have that cartoon image of a snorkeller or diver with the tube running up the side of the head.
This means that when you are lying facedown in the water looking down into the blue for sharks, that the snorkel is pointing at an angle towards the surface of the sea instead of straight up out of the water. The closer the tube is to the water, the more chance you have of getting water in it. This can be annoying.
But in fact the best way to set up your snorkel is actually pointing as far back as you can, at a right angle to your ear.
Instead of attaching it to the side of the mask strap, you should attach it to the back, that way when you are lying face down in the water, the tube is point directly upwards and has less chance of getting water in it.
There’s nothing worse than doing your relaxed surface breathing and on the last breath before you go under, you manage to choke down a load of water and have to start all over again. Hopefully this little trick will reduce the amount of times this happens.
Attaching it to the mask strap
There are two schools of thought on this one. Either you can stick in under the mask strap which is great as in keeps the snorkel secure and out of the way when diving, although it’s easy to forget it’s not attached and you may lose it if you take your mask of for some reason.
For a more secure option Cressi do a great figure of eight snorkel keeper that doesn’t dig into your head and won’t pull your mask out of alignment like sticking it under the mask strap could.
Oh, and remember, always take the snorkel out of you mouth before you dive. You should always be diving within your limits anyway, but just in unfortunate case of shallow water blackout if the snorkel is still in your mouth it will fill with water, which you obviously don’t want. Taking your first recovery breath with a mouthful of water is not good..
Your mouth will clamp down in case of a black out and your buddy with have a hard enough time with you anyway without having to pry the snorkel mouthpiece out of your mouth
Even if you dont black out the effort of purging the snorkel when you surface could tip you over the edge..
Safety first people.