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A Concise Guide to Snorkels and Snorkeling

What is a Snorkel?
A snorkel is a curved breathing tube that enables a swimmer to breathe while looking down in the water. The snorkel derives its name and shape from the U-shaped breathing tubes used during the Second World War to feed submarines. However, the shape of a modern snorkel has been modified. It now has a relatively straight end at the bottom with a mouthpiece that is attached to the main tube. Under the mouthpiece, some snorkels have a purge valve that helps to clear out water that has accumulated in the tube.

Types of Snorkels
Based on the capacity to stop water from entering the breathing tubes, snorkels can be categorized into three:

a. Dry snorkel: This design has a cap that shuts the tube automatically any time it gets submerged and it opens up again when the tube comes out of the water.

b. Semi-dry snorkel: With a deflector cap or splash guard, this design reduces the amount of water that goes into the tube, however it still needs a valve for occasional purging.

c. Classical/Purge snorkel: This is the traditional design which gets filled with water easily and requires frequent purging.

What to Look for When Buying Snorkels?
A dry snorkel is recommended above all the others. It will make snorkeling easier and allow you to look under the water for a longer period without having to purge water frequently. However, the mouth piece should be very comfortable. Choose a 100% silicone seal where possible. This is better than the styrofoam substitutes which do not last very long. Another important feature is the dry valve which allows you to inhale strongly without closing and blocking air intake – a weighted valve performs better than a non-weighted design.

What is Snorkeling?
Snorkeling involves swimming or gliding along the surface of a body of water (usually a sea or ocean) while putting on a breathing tube, diving mask, and diving fins. The tube allows you to look into the water and observe the marine life at the sea or ocean bed while you breathe through the snorkel. The main benefit of snorkeling is that you can stay afloat on the water without the complications of scuba diving. Just by kicking the fins, you can spend a long time looking at underwater plants and fish.

How to Use a Snorkel
Ensure that your snorkeling mask has a snug fit on your face. You may attach the snorkel on the right or left side. Choose the side that will make it more convenient for you to adjust the purge valve when necessary. Use the adjustable straps and ring to secure the mask and snorkel tube. Then bite the tabs on the mouthpiece and close your lips on the mouthpiece so that water does not come into your mouth. Next, test the comfort of the mask and function of the snorkel. Dip your face into the water a few inches below the surface, and then breathe in and out with your mouth.

Buying and using high quality snorkel equipment will make the difference between having a great time looking underwater and struggling to adjust and use your snorkeling gear. Ensure that you get a perfect fit and you test the mask, snorkel tube, and fins before you go for a long snorkeling adventure.


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