Did You Really Learn to Scuba Dive?
Have you taken your SCUBA class? Got your C Card? Now you’re certified! But did you really learn to SCUBA dive?
Please don’t be offended or annoyed. I’m casting no aspersions on you or your instructor. As a matter of fact you now know more about SCUBA than any of our “forefathers” knew when they started. Many of them got their gear from mail order catalogs and the only instruction they got, if any, was from gear manuals or folklore.
You now have a “license to learn”. Unfortunately, many newly certified divers never follow through. Sometimes they go on a few dives and that’s it. Some never dive again.
I hate it. I know diving is not for everybody but if you wanted to learn and you’re still not comfortable it’s a failure on my part or your instructor. Again, I’m not casting aspersions. Some people need a little extra work during their class. We are limited by time and expense and not everybody fits into that pigeonhole.
If you’re one of the “special few” it’s not the end of the world. You’re going to need a little resolve and a little extra work. You have your license to learn, that’s your ticket.
First, obviously, you’re going to need a buddy. Your buddy needs one special quality…patience. If your buddy is a more advanced diver, he or she will have to forgo more exciting stuff just to spend time working with you.
Next, you should find a more or less placid practice area. Ponds, lakes, bays, are all acceptable. Avoid currents or waves until you’re more comfortable.
By far the biggest problem most new divers have is having their mask flooded. This skill is one of the first learned. If you’re not comfortable handling this problem it can derail your whole learning experience.
I’ve had great success gradually easing people into this skill. Start by standing up, wearing your mask, with your upper body out of the water.
Bend over and place your face in the water. Break the seal of the mask and allow just a small amount of water to enter your mask. Stand back up. You should have about a half inch of water in your mask. It should touch your nose but not be in your eyes.
Now, with your head tilted slightly back, gently push in with your index finger on the top center your mask faceplate. You don’t have to grab the mask with one or both hands. You don’t have to pull the mask away from your face. Just push in gently at the top and gently exhale through your nose.
The water will clear the seal around your upper lip. Believe it or not this works exactly the same way under water.
Next, allow the water to fill until it’s just under your eyes. Clear it again. Next, fill it until it’s just at eye level. Clear it again. Next, fill it completely.
If at any point you get stuck or don’t feel completely comfortable, just keep repeating until you do.
Once you’ve become completely comfortable doing this above water start the whole process over while kneeling with your head below water. Again, go through the progression until you’re completely comfortable.
Now, here’s the magic. Start the whole process above water again. Except this time do it with your regulator in your mouth and breathing continuously.
Don’t rush the process and make sure you’re completely comfortable before progressing. This one skill will overcome most beginning divers’ discomfort.