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Question Snorkel in or out of mouth

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New Member
Jul 15, 2020
Any true physiological explanation of why free diving instructors teach you to keep the snorkel out of your mouth?
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i have never taken a course, i do it out of habit and if i try it in it feels alien. i think the reasoning is if you black out there is less chance of water entering your airways.
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The snorkel out argument seems reasonable, and I practice it. However, snorkel out has become dogma. Too many divers simply close their ears when the subject is discussed. Truth is, there is some evidence both ways.

I have considerable mistrust of anything that becomes dogma. Dogma results in lack of thought and analysis. Way too many examples of dogma being wrong, especially in freediving.
i cant understand why someone would leave it in, just laziness not to take it out to be fair. they just get in the way and get float lines shooting line etc wrapped around them,
I don't care about instructors. I just know that your mouth position is more "natural" with the snorkel out and there's no bubbles when you dive, so fish don't spook.
The idea about the laryngospasm I never understood. That reflex is a reflex of the vocal cords, so there will not be an open passage into the lungs. But I guess the lips can be seen as one extra layer of defence, which the snorkel strips away.

To me snorkel out forces me to do a proper surfacing, stimulates recovery breaths and since I need to get my head out of the water to get air I also get a quick look at the surface for some situational awareness and recalibrating my positional awareness. We all know how waves can grow big without noticing if you keep your head in the water.

With snorkel in I am tempted to continue my hunt as soon as I reach the surface. The only time I keep the snorkel in is on the last few dives when trying to get an octopus out of its hole as I don't want to miss it sneaking off when I have to get some air. If the dive is deep however I prefer losing the octo over the extra risk.
The fact that if you black out your mouth normaly creats a seal from apnea, were a snorkal is letting water in all the time and is being held out of the mouth through pressure not allowing the water into your mouth which you will lose once blacked out, increasing the chance of taking in water on a rescue! Also if your bitting down it will be differcult to remove the snorkal from your mouth by the rescuer as the diver will have bit down through panic. Also on the way up if you regain conciousnes the safty diver cant keep your mouth closed, meaning you will inhale water straight away as that is normale response once you gain concuiosness hence why were taught to seal the mouth with one hand and push up the jaw to assit with keep it closed, and all this danger for the sake of 2 secounds of taking it out of your mouth. Take the snorkal out and be safe in the knowlage your helping your buddy save your life if things do go wrong
In theory, I would recommend snorkel out but I grew up with snorkel in. And usually dive snorkel in - but read on...

I sometimes wonder if the snorkel out trend just comes from folk who never learnt to clear their snorkel properly, automatically and/or the use of snorkels with purge valves. BUT on balance, I'm inclined to think there is a safety benefit - but I'll see how this discussion works out :)

Perhaps it is more critical for those diving very deep and/or pushing their breathhold.

I did start trying snorkel out a couple of years ago and pretty soon lost my favourite, irreplaceable Typhoon snorkel which I'd used since the 1970s! :(

It feels untidy and a faff to me to take my snorkel out and leave it flapping around all over the place. I see some divers just hold their snorkel in their hand, hmm, I don't have a spare hand for that and it is asking for trouble. Loose your snorkel in a choppy rip or tidal flow and life could quickly get uncomfortable and complicated.

Perhaps the snorkel out advocates can comment on where and how they secure their snorkel while diving - any tips/suggestions?

But It's on my short list of things to try again this year. For longer/deeper dives. Along with first equalizing at the surface immediately before diving, my new rollergun and more time with my new short twin band Speargun. Best to try only change one thing at a time though.
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I carry my snorkel under my mask strap. First thing I do with all my snorkels is take off whatever they have (clip or holder) to hold on to the mask strap.
Tried that, that was how I lost my snorkel. :( The conditions were extreme though.
That'd keep it on the mask :D But I like to return my mask to it's box for storage/transport, so I need something that makes it easy to attach and detach the snorkel.

I usually use the snorkel's clip but most are hard with sharp edges which could damage the soft silicone mask strap :( I do have one snorkel, Seacsub I think, which has a soft plastic retainer which is like 2 connected, soft, adustable straps or belts. They work a bit like cable ties but easy to undo and reuse. Would also fit any snorkel.
If you store/transport your mask appart from the weights, you don't need a box. You can also make a soft comfortable holder cutting an "eight" shape out of an old wetsuit. A friend has it and he says it's the best solution for him.
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Interesting. I have some scraps of neoprene that Elios sent me, with my wetsuit I think, as samples. It would be good to use them. :)

You are right about the mask box being unnecessary, as long as you take care to protect the mask. I used an Omer Alien for several years, which came without a box. However, it is the only mask I've had a lens come out of. I was able to refit the glass using my bench vice but first time it leaked, second time sorted it but by then I'd moved onto a new mask, an early version of the Seacsub combat-X, which was cheaper, better and came with a good, tough mask box. I use a Technisub Aqualung Micromask currently, better mask but maskbox not quite as good.
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The micromask box is indeed a bit meh. But it saved my mask at least once, when my father placed a heavy travel bag on top of it in a not so wise way. The box cracked, but the mask was unharmed. But the box takes so much space! I guess rolling it in a towel is a lot more compact and probably just as safe.
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If I remember correctly, "snorkel out" dogma has been invented, at least initially, with the idea to get rid of dead volume and maximize the oxygen uptake on the surface. That is it. It was in Molchanova's "smart freediver does..." list. It was all about maximum depth and longest breath hold, nothing else. Some designs were advanced to circumvent the dead volume issue, with two pipes and valves etc, but that did not pick up.

Snorkel out only makes sense for competitive freediving. Does not work in spearfishing or even leisure-pace freediving/snorkeling. Pipe is always in and it becomes like a part of you, leaves your hands free to do things and your mind is free to focus on important matters. Also, surfacing with snorkel in is so much more natural and easy. Freedivers will never understand this, unfortunately. When you breach with eyes popping, and doing samba dance, it is when you probably need to have snorkel out.

But then again, free-floating uncountious body floats with face down, and in such case, it has been said before, by freedivers by the way, it is better to have a snorkel in and blow the pipe before you breach, so that you can restart breathing on the surface even when you have no memory of events.
But then again, free-floating uncountious body floats with face down, and in such case, it has been said before, by freedivers by the way, it is better to have a snorkel in and blow the pipe before you breach, so that you can restart breathing on the surface even when you have no memory of events.
I like this theory. Something I wondered about as well. The weighting safety advice everywhere on the internet says to go for the trim that places a the mouth just below the water on a passive exhale, which would be uhmm.. not very ideal in case of a blackout.
But with the snorkel the problem I see is to purge the snorkel. If you purge it just before reaching the surface you can clear it with a passive exhale, but then you need to train it so that it becomes musle memory. But do you release your breath in a blackout? If you clear too early or too late you end up with a tube filled with water.

Can a purge valve snorkel clear with a passive exhale when on the surface? If so that could even be better?

Also in a rough or choppy sea a freak wave can fill the snorkel without warning. If this happens on the first inhale the you have a serious problem.
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It all depends on the situation. Understand the advantages and dangers of either method. Practice them properly so they become ingrained in your muscle memory and adapt to your situation.
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It all depends on the situation. Understand the advantages and dangers of either method. Practice them properly so they become ingrained in your muscle memory and adapt to your situation.
Very interesting link. I like it, as it kind of supports what I already do, which is nice, although I question how easy it is to reliably release a small amount air just 30/20/10cm from the surface. I find that I am often a little early or a little late. So, in that case, end up having to either blow my snorkel to clear it at the surface, which is considered somewhat dangerous, or remove my snorkel from my mouth if my breath is short (not as risk-free as some might have you believe).

However, I don't push my breathhold to extremes. So probably not as problematic as it might seem. Now that I know there is an actual named technique and process, it is something I can work on I suppose. :)
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