Always wanted to try scuba diving or had a poor first experience? Read on!
Yesterday on Facebook, a friend named Jennifer commented on one of my photos. She mentioned that she had tried scuba diving but had a bad experience. This made me very sad. But it was also not the first time I had heard this comment. In fact, I hear it quite often. So today I thought I would post to encourage all of you out there who have had a difficult, bad, scary, or downright frightening first experience in the water to try it again.
There is NOTHING in the world that compares to the feeling of scuba diving, the freedom of swimming free in the water and hanging out with the fishes. Would YOU Like to be the one in manta photos I posted yesterday? You can!!!!
So….here are five beginning tips that might help you turn a bad experience into one of a lifetime.
1. If you are nervous or afraid of trying scuba diving, YOU ARE NOT ALONE!
Understand that most everyone has this feeling. You are relying both on unfamiliar equipment and often an unfamiliar instructor for your life support. From the time I decided I wanted to learn to dive to the time I signed up for my course an entire year was wasted. I was that nervous. Now, 25 years and 7500 dives later, it has altered the path of my life and become my greatest passion.
2. ASK QUESTIONS!
Many people do not ask questions when they go into new situations and so their fears remain. If you don’t understand something, no matter how small and insignificant it may seem, ask your instructor. My fear has always been flying and I used to be afraid that someone would open the door at 35,000 feet and we would all be sucked out of the plane. Seem like a dumb thing? Yep! But I finally asked someone the question and learned that it was impossible to open the door while traveling 500 mph at 35,000 feet. So, with education, I alleviated my fear.
3. TELL your instructor your fear.
Let your instructor know that you’ve tried this before and what happened. If your fear is claustrophobia, or deep water or whatever, your instructor can explain the reasons not to have the fear you have. I had a student once who was terrified of fish!!! I never would have figured THAT one out! Many people are claustrophobic and I am the world’s biggest claustrophobe! BUT under the water, I feel like the world is totally open in front of me and I have none of that fear. An instructor can help you get over your fears, but you have to TELL them what they are.
4. Have the RIGHT equipment and conditions.
Again, since you are new to the sport, you probably don’t know what is the right equipment. But you do know that if your mask is leaking something isn’t right. If you experience a leaky mask, stop and ask for one that does fit your face. If something doesn’t feel right you will obsess on whatever it is and you will have a miserable experience whether it is fins that don’t fit or your BCD that is digging into your back. Just an aside, I think the mask is THE most important piece of equipment to be comfortable with. If it is foggy or leaky you will have more of a tendency for panic. So here is an important idea that I instill in my students. Even if you cannot see (meaning your mask is flooding or leaking or foggy) you CAN still breathe and while it may be uncomfortable and inconvenient, it can be easily solved, even underwater. However, first and foremost be sure to have properly working equipment. Also, be sure to go out on a day with good weather conditions. Rough seas and poor visibility can add stress to your experience. Be patient and wait for the right time.
5. Find the RIGHT instructor!
Don’t be afraid to ask for credentials! You are entrusting your life to your instructor. Find out about them and if you have a nagging feeling that this is not the right person to teach you, find someone else. Trust me, 23 years ago, you DID NOT want me as your instructor, just ask my little sister (sorry Cathy!). Of course, since you are new to this whole sport, you probably feel you don’t know the right questions to ask. You might ask how many first timers they’ve taken under or how long they have been teaching. But if I were nervous about it or especially if I had a bad experience in the past, I would be sure to ask for the most patient instructor. Also, many women prefer to have women teach them. Don’t be afraid to make your request. I love teaching women and instilling confidence in them. I think that this is THE most important tip. Find someone you know, like and trust or someone who will take the time to understand you and your fears, to give you this experience of a lifetime.
Honestly, did you really like beer the first time you tried it?
How many things in your life were perfect the first time? How many things did you not enjoy on your first try? Don’t let the fact that you had a poor first experience with scuba keep you out of the water the rest of your life. Give it another go. I KNOW you can have an amazing experience under the water and find a whole new world down there. This post is for all the “Jennifers” out there who I encourage to try again!
Trust me! I’m a scuba instructor!
To your Adventures!
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