So you’ve decided to take the plunge and get your scuba certification. As you study your class materials and shop for the perfect mask, your mind has probably been overflowing with visions of exotic coral reefs or crusty, sunken pirate ships. Indeed, a ton of aquatic adventures await but, before you start planning that trip to the Andrea Doria wreck, here are some great tips for nervous scuba newbies to make your introduction to this wonderful world the best it can be.
First and foremost, you’ll need an instructor you trust. If you start classes and feel uncomfortable for any reason, talk to your teacher or the dive center you’re working with. These people are professionals with years of experience and can offer you a world of advice to put your mind at ease. A good instructor will never make you feel pressured to dive when you’re truly not ready and will not push you to take unnecessary risks. These folks love to dive and want you to love it as well, but they know the learning process can be daunting and have all the tools necessary to get you past the normal mental roadblocks people encounter. You’re breathing underwater and things can go wrong. But, with a good instructor, you’ll first learn how to handle these situations in a controlled and safe environment. Then, if they happen out in the open ocean, you’ll be ready to react and take care of the problem without panic.
Knowing your own gear is essential. You will have your own mask, snorkel, and fins to begin your training and you should practice to make working with these items as involuntary as blinking. Take the time to get that perfect fit on your mask. Ask questions about how you can adjust it just right. Wear your fins in the pool to practice getting them on and off in the water and work on your strokes. Snorkel in the bathtub! The more you practice, the more these item s will feel like an extension of you rather than some foreign object.
Finally, buddy up! If you have a good friend who is already a diver (maybe the one who piqued your interest in the first place), invite them along. The best dive buddy for the newbie is someone who has had a lot of time underwater already and who knows the importance of watching out for each other. You can also chat with your instructor and classmates about experienced divers whom you can meet in your area. If this person has advanced certifications or rescue experience, all the better. You’ve been trained to handle minor emergencies but having someone by your side to whom these things are second nature can, literally, be a life saver. Having the right dive buddy will be a perfect complement to your new life of underwater exploration.