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FunSwimShop.co.uk - Advice Snorkelling
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Snorkelling is a great way to discover the underwater world, and unlike scuba diving, it doesn’t cost a lot to do or take much training to learn. With the help of a qualified instructor, you can learn to snorkel safely within a couple of hours – and you can buy snorkeling equipment to get you started for surprisingly little.


The basics of snorkelling
Basically, snorkelling enables you to breathe with your face under the water, making it possible to really appreciate the beauty of underwater creatures and their habitat. It involves wearing a transparent mask over your eyes and nose, and breathing through a snorkel (a plastic or rubber tube) – it’s a strange sensation at first but most people quickly get used to it with a bit of practice.

You will also need to master the knack of clearing your mask and snorkel, as small amounts of water may splash in through the open end of the snorkel or leak into the mask. Both are easy to deal with, and some masks and snorkels come with built-in valves to make the process even easier.

When you learn to snorkel you will also learn to use snorkelling fins to propel yourself through the water. The fins increase your speed, enabling you to move faster, for longer, without getting as tired. The basic flutter kick is easy to learn.


What snorkelling equipment do you need to get started?
When you first buy snorkelling equipment, the  essential gear includes:

• A snorkelling mask: This is your underwater window, so when you buy a snorkelling mask, choose one that gives you a clear view and avoid tinted glass. Make sure your mask fits your face snugly but feels comfortable – to test the fit, hold it up against your face with the straps untied, then see if you can keep it on just by breathing in slowly. Snorkelling masks are come in a range of sizes and shapes to fit men, women and children.

• A snorkel: This is literally your lifeline while under the water, so when you buy a snorkel, choose one that allows you to breathe freely and make sure the mouthpiece comfortably suits the shape of your mouth. The wider the diameter of your snorkel, the more air it will allow through – and the larger you are, the wider the snorkel you’ll need. But don’t choose one that is too wide, or it will be more difficult to clear water out of it.

Snorkelling fins: It’s not impossible to snorkel without fins, but they make an enormous difference to the  speed and ease with which you can move through the water. When you buy snorkelling fins, ensure the fit is secure. Open-heel fins have an adjustable strap, so they often fit better but they don’t protect the bottom of the foot. Full-foot fins protect the foot but cannot be adjusted, so they may not fit as securely.

• A buoyancy vest: Wearing a buoyancy vest can help you save your energy while in the water, making it easier to relax and enjoy the view! A buoyancy vest is not a life jacket, though, and it does not replace the need to be able to swim competently.


Taking care of your snorkeling equipment
If you snorkel in salt water, you can prolong the life of your snorkelling equipment by soaking it in fresh water afterwards; this will remove the salt that can harden into granules and damage the material that snorkels and masks are made of. You should rinse out any grains of sand at the same time.

To help prevent your snorkelling mask fogging up while you are underwater, clean it regularly, inside and out, with soap and water.


Taking care of yourself - snorkeling safety
Make sure you’re familiar with the do’s and don’ts for snorkelling safely. These include:

• Don’t snorkel alone

• Don’t snorkel unless you are a competent swimmer

• Don’t overdo it – tiredness can lead to accidents

• Don’t touch the underwater creatures

• Do stay comfortably close to the shore –  make sure you keep enough energy in reserve to get back safely

• Do keep an eye on your surroundings – be aware of the tides, and of dangers such as rocky outcrops, sharp coral and rough surfaces

• Do learn how to perform mouth-to-mouth resuscitation

A qualified snorkeling instructor should provide you with complete and in-depth safety guidelines.