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Can't equalize past 30 ft.

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Well-Known Member
Aug 9, 2004
I have been having trouble equalizing past 30 ft. I have tried to do the nose pinch, but have only been sucseccful on the surface. I have even tried to do the nose pinch all the way down. Still no luck. The strange thing is that I can dive to 30 ft. with out equalizing at all. I don't get any discomfert at all until I reach 25 ft. Then at 30 ft. I can't go any farther. Someone told me that I am subconciously equalizing to 30 ft. But how? And how can I extend it? Is there any way to equalize with out pinching my nose? This would be helpful, since when I pinch my nose I waste air and dive time. I have the dive time to reach 50+ ft., just not the ability to equalize. Any tips would be greatly appricieated.
Last edited:
Welcome to DB. Erics article is the bible of clearing.

Its hard to see how you could reach 30 ft without clearing at all, 10-15 ft is about the max for most people, and pretty uncomfortable at that. Seems much more likely that you are clearing and don't know it. Do you hear any kind of crackle or squeak inside your ear? Try turning your head up to clear. Do it shallow, before any preasure builds up. You might try some of nasal drugs, like sudafed or afrin, to see if they will get you started, not good for long term freediving use.

Good luck

When I started 'trying' to freedive, I couldn't equalize underwater at all. I could dive to about 15-18ft without equalizing, but that was after many days of progression, which gradually stretched my eardrums. Then, I figured out that I could pinch my nose, and blow, ON THE SURFACE, and it would allow me to reach almost 30 feet without equalizing underwater. Trying to pinch my nose and blow had no effect underwater, only on the surface, before I went down.

These days my eardrums are not flexible, so I can only reach about 3m (10ft) without equalizing.

Eric Fattah
BC, Canada
It is impossible to dive to 30 ft without some kind of equalization. The process that you are using appears to stop at 15-20 ft. Stretching your neck, swallowing or even moving your tongue may be enough or your eustation tubes may be open normally. Looking up or letting water into your mouth could easily close them.
Since time is not a problem, I suggest that you get a safety and try very slow descents down a rope. Stop and experiment at the slightest feeling of pressure. Relax more if possible and don't raise your head to look at the bottom. Spit out the snorkel and put air in your mouth. Breathe in and out of your mask. Swallow and tuck your chin in, then push it out. Try all this during a feet first descent. With the first success, go back and repeat it right away. Read Eric's articles and do all the excercises.
Remember most of us go through this at some depth, you just have to do one more, at a time. Don't do anything that hurts and let us know when you get it right.

I just wanted to thank everyone for thier help. I have gotten some good ideas. I will be diving a few times this week, so I'll get a chance to try some different techniques. I will keep everyone posted on my progress. And when I find something that works I will be sure to post it in case anyone else is haveing the same problem. If any one else has any ideas I will be glad to try them. I have been reading Eric's paper on equalizing, but have not been able to get the images. Well thanks for the help, and I'll keep you posted.
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