You’ve heard that scuba diving is great and wonderful, even magical. But once you start your scuba course and are bombarded with equipment details, hand signals, techniques, and the seemingly daunting task of breathing underwater-- it can feel anything but magical. In fact, for many first-timers learning to scuba-dive can be a bit challenging, sometimes even scary. Scuba diving introduces you to a lot of new sensations and experiences. It also requires you to remember crucial information all while being deep underwater. So it’s completely understandable why some beginners would feel overwhelmed, and maybe even a bit scared.
But fear not, because scuba diving really is all that it’s cracked up to be, you just have to go through a few things before the actual magic of it happens.
So what can you expect from your first scuba diving experience?
1. You’re not going to be an overnight expert.
Like driving, learning a new language, and just about any other skill you’re not going to suddenly be an expert at it after just a few training sessions. There are some with a natural inclination or talent for it, but these are more of the exceptions, rather than the rule. For most people, it takes training and several practice dives before they’re ready to take on the open seas. And even then you could still have a few blunders-- you might forget a hand signal or two, or forget certain instructions that seemed really clear in your mind when you were back on land. All these are fine and normal, considering how overwhelming it can be the first time you go deep into the water.
2. Breathing may be difficult… at first.
We’re so used to breathing through our noses all the time that breathing through a scuba regulator underwater for the first time can be quite a challenge. But it’s one of the most basic and important things you will have to learn for diving.
One trick that can help ease you into this is to practice breathing through the regulator while still above water. Then just as you lower your face into the water, exhale fully. Remember to always exhale fully after each breath. This tricks you into inhaling automatically right after, and also prevents you from hyperventilating underwater.
Again, this is something that doesn’t come very naturally, so don’t sweat it if it takes you a while to get the hang of it.
3. You may need to adjust your senses.
Underwater, things can look, sound and feel a whole lot different.
First, your vision. Because of your scuba mask, you won’t have much of a peripheral vision, which can make some divers feel a bit claustrophobic. Things also appear closer than they really are because light behaves differently underwater. A good trick to adjust to this is to touch objects around you like the pool wall or pool floor, or your diving companion. Never touch aquatic life however, as this may cause harm to them or to you.
Underwater, sound also acts a lot differently. You may think that the underwater world is completely silent, but actually it can seem pretty noisy at first! That’s because sound travels a lot faster in water, since it is denser than air. There’s also the sound of you breathing underwater, which can be quite loud before you get accustomed to it.
Lastly, you’re going to feel quite weightless underwater, and there will be a significant difference in your movement. Being underwater is probably the closest you’re ever going to get to that weightless, anti-gravity experience you get in outer space! It’s a wonderful feeling, being able to glide effortlessly in any direction. However, with water pushing at you from all sides, this means that any movement you make will be met with some resistance. Don’t fight it! You’ll only consume more energy and get exhausted pretty quickly. Instead, practice slow, relaxed and controlled movements.
4. You might need to pee
Surrounded by water that’s lower than your body temperature, you might find yourself with a sudden urge to pee. This reaction is known as ‘cold water immersion diuresis,’ and is totally normal. Most divers who experience this simply pee in their wetsuits but if this not an option for you, simply tell your instructor so you can end the dive and relieve yourself.
Learning to scuba dive can be both exciting and scary, but in the end it is always worth it. Now that you know what to expect, you’ll just need to get your diving gear ready, and that should include the best inflatable dive boat. For a top-notch dive boat, make sure you check out our selection of boats here at Waves Overseas.