Monday January 20 2020
December 17, 2013

Controlled Descent Is the Best Start

Mustafa and I were in Antalya-Kemer/TURKEY for diving several years ago.

It was a wreck dive.

We were not alone. Our group consisted of 6 scuba divers (including us) and a dive leader.

I and Mustafa were instructors, but the rest were starters.

Right after the dive briefing, dive leader told us that me and my buddy Mustafa may stay at the back of the group while enjoying the dive and serve as a rearguard for him.

That was no problem. We accepted.

We jumped on to the water. We started to descent after everybody signaled okay and the dive leader gave the ‘down‘ signal.

One of the divers from our group saw the wreck at the bottom and got really excited. With this excitement, he went in a rush and started to descent very fast. In fact, he didn’t look like a diver descending, but a stone falling!

Our dive leader caught him in the tank valve and signaled him to inflate his BC a little bit. By this way, the diver slowed down and went on his descent in a comfortable way.

Experience of the dive leader solved the problem.

What would have happened to the diver falling down if nobody would help him (theoretically)?

I guess he would definitely have an ear trauma as a result of not being able to make a proper ear equalization (read:Ear Pressure: Equalize’em!)

He was going to separate from the group and even may get lost due to the limited vision. 

What Is a Controlled Descend?

A slow and calm descent is called a ‘controlled descent.’ It is ‘controlled‘ because by this way, diver can control his/her speed and may stop at any point of the descent.

Controlled descent is a scuba diving training skill in majority of the dive agencies.

Importance of Controlled Descent

By performing a controlled descent, a scuba diver avoids a possible ear squeeze. By descending slowly, divers can have enough time for an ear equalization.

Second, controlled descent will help you to maintain a good level of buoyancy during your descent, resulting equipment and environment protection. There might be sharp coral reefs and/or wrecks at the bottom.

So, by learning how to make a controlled descent, you can stop few meters before reaching the bottom.

A slow descent will protect you against a nitrogen narcosis (read:Nitrogen Narcosis: Pull Yourself Together!) caused by a fast descent.

Last but not least, divers can save air by performing a controlled descent. Scuba divers generally use more air during ascend and descent unless they use proper techniques.

How to Perform a Controlled Descent

First, I want to share you the steps you should follow for a safe controlled descent. Then I will give you some valuable tips that will ease your descents.

  1. Swim to the descent point with your buddy
  2. Switch from snorkel to regulator second stage
  3. Look at (and position yourself) to the direction you will be swimming underwater
  4. Hold your BC hoes out of water and start to deflate it
  5. Stay feet-first and hold on to the anchor rope/guide rope and stay close to your buddy (read:Dive Buddies)

Helpful Tips for a Controlled Descent

Try these in your next dive for safer and more comfortable descents.

  • Exhale slowly but completely while deflating your BC. Deflated lungs will help you descent comfortably.
  • Don’t kneel after you decide to descent. This way, you cannot kick your fins if needed. If you feel a little discomfort in your ears, for example, start to kick your fins to ascent a little bit and give it another try.
  • After the distance between your head and the surface is around 60 cm, stop deflating your BC. After this point, you will stop descending when you inhale (great time to equalize air), go on descending when you exhale. By this way, you will be ‘soaring‘ underwater.


Performing a controlled descent in our dives is very important, because it helps us to make a safe and comfortable start. Remember that a good start is always positive in every aspect of the life. It makes you focus, concentrate and enjoy your dive you are about to make.

Tell us about your descents. Do you perform a good controlled descent in your dives? 

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About Seaman


Hi, my name is Murat Demirağ. I have been diving since 1996 and teaching scuba since 2005. I wanted to share my knowledge through

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