For many, the idea of breathing underwater sounds very intimidating. But by following these diving tips for beginners and using the right gear, you’ll be fully prepared to take the plunge, safely. Thanks to equipment regulations and strict safety training, diving is a very safe sport for people of all ages. Below, my guide will cover many of the basics you need to know, what mistakes you should avoid, and how to get the most out of every diving experience.
A diving program is a must. When you’re searching for a dive school, make sure that you find out if you’ll be diving in cold water or warm water, and what type of sea life the area’s known for. Make sure you also look into how much the accreditation costs. In order to get an open water certificate, it can take a total of three days of training. Of course, when choosing a program, safety should be your first concern. Before you enroll, make sure you read online reviews by past students to see if the program has any issues such as faulty equipment or poor instruction. Schools that offer safe dive programs will have a low instructor to student ratio, with instructors who will communicate well with students.
During a program, you’ll learn many of the essential diving techniques, such as scuba diving entry methods, what gear you need to use, how to test your gear, how to stay safe underwater, and how to equalize pressure when diving.
Before you enroll, to improve your comfort underwater and confidence, try practicing swimming for a few weeks or months leading up to the class. Yoga is also a good option since it can help you focus on your breathing, which is one of the keys to learning how to freedive deeper.
Safety and Health
- Before you start swimming underwater, make sure you check out your gear. Signs of faulty equipment can include a jumping needle on the air gauge whenever you take a breath using your regulator, strange tasting air or strange smelling air, broken buckles or air leaks.
- For your first few dives, avoid using an underwater camera, even if the program allows it. A beginner tends to easily become distracted, which can cause them to accidentally ascend.
- If you’re prone to seasickness, take your seasickness pills ahead of time.
- If you’re not sure of how to use your gear, how to set your freediving watch, or you’re feeling nervous, don’t be afraid to speak to your instructor. It’s best to always dive feeling confident, not nervous or confused.
- If you have a cold or sinus infection, don’t dive since equalizing can be dangerous.
- If you have wounds, make sure that your wounds are covered or avoid diving until they have healed. This will be especially important if you plan on swimming around coral reefs since the skin is more prone to infection in these areas.
- Many accidents during a dive can be prevented and are often caused by panic. Twenty percent of diving deaths are due to panic. If you remain calm and keep a level head, you can easily work your way out of any type of diving issue. I recommend practicing breathing techniques, meditation, or any type of self-calming methods that can help you cope with the many diving challenges that can arise. For many divers, usually visualization can be a great way to practice walking through some of the most common diving challenges and how they can easily overcome them. The most important thing to keep in mind is to keep breathing. Avoid holding your breath.
- Always stick close by a more experienced diver and follow their instructions. A beginner doesn’t usually realize how much air is consumed and will breathe more than an experienced diver. Try to keep your eye on your gauge and inform your diving partner or instructor when you’re running low. Make sure you communicate with your diving partner often.
Stay Away from Sea Life
Avoid touching, poking, disturbing, or chasing sea life. Avoiding this type of behavior is better for the environment. Additionally, many types of sea creatures can be poisonous or aggressive. Make sure you stick to a look but don’t touch policy to protect yourself and sea life.
Do you know what you should do if you see a shark? Avoid panicking or bolting to the water’s surface. Follow your diving partner’s instructions and keep breathing. If you’re diving with a friend and you’re too scared to continue, then you should end the dive as you normally would. Most sharks are relatively harmless and will swim right by a diver without attacking.
Choosing the Right Gear
- Nothing will feel better than wearing the best wetsuit for diving, one that conforms to your body and offers a snug fit. It’s definitely worth it to spend more and invest in a wetsuit based on the type of water conditions you find yourself in the most.
- When you’re shopping for a mask, make sure you tilt your head down, placing the mask against your face, and then inhale. Next, take your hands off the mask. If it remains on your face then it’s a good fit. Before you dive, make sure you trim facial hair and sweep your hair away from your face, then rub on some sunscreen in order to prevent leaks.
- Always take care of your gear after a dive by rinsing it in fresh water and hanging it out to dry. Make sure you keep it out of direct sunlight. The elements, salt, and even sand are hard on diving equipment and can cause corrosion and other issues if you don’t take care of it properly.
- When you first use fins, they can create some friction on the foot. This can result in pain when kicking and blisters. Blisters will appear due to the soft skin on the feet not being used to the constant rubbing which will occur when you kick as you swim. Invest in the best neoprene socks, which will create a type of buffer between the fin rubber and the feet. If you forget to bring your neoprene socks you can always use your regular socks as a last resort.
Remember to always drink plenty of water during any type of diving experience. This will be especially important if you’re diving in a humid and hot environment. Sometimes people will forget that diving is actually an active sport and they fail to drink enough water. You should also remember that the air you breathe during a dive is going to be very dry, which can also have an impact on your hydration. Keep a large bottle of water on you at all times.
Keep Your Eyes Open
When you’re practicing your swimming in a pool, try keeping your eyes open underwater. Many people psych themselves out about keeping their eyes open underwater, but it actually doesn’t sting and you’ll be able to see surprisingly well. The more comfortable you are keeping your eyes open when you’re underwater, the less stress you’ll feel during your first dive.
Maintain a Nice Rhythm
When you dive, try to pace yourself. Diving isn’t a race, so it’s not about swimming faster than the other divers in your party. Move calmly and slowly. You’ll save more air and energy this way while enjoying your environment. When you ascend, never go up faster than your bubbles.
Be Confident When You Dive
Like with any other type of sport, having confidence in your ability will be important. When it comes to diving, confidence plays a big role. This is because you’ll be spending plenty of time breathing underwater from an aqualung, which is definitely not natural. If you come across any problems during a dive, then your confidence can go a long way towards survival.
Snorkel Before Learning How to Dive
Learning how to snorkel before you dive can give you more confidence and can go a long way towards making you feel more comfortable in the water, especially with your face submerged. If you learn how to snorkel first it will give you a real advantage in the water and can even give you a head-start in dive training.
Changing a Dive Buddy
As a beginner, it’s very important that you stay comfortable and confident in the water during a dive. You should also have confidence in your diving buddy. If you’re enrolled in a program and are not comfortable with your assigned diver, don’t be afraid to ask if you can switch to a new one. When you’re underwater, you want to feel comfortable so you can focus on the dive and enjoy yourself instead of spending time worrying about your diving partner.
The okay signal is the most commonly used signal during a dive. Keep in mind, the okay signal is used as both an answer and a question. If another diver gives the okay signal, make sure you respond with the same, unless you’re having issues, of course. If you give the signal to another diver and they don’t return it, make sure you check to see if they’re okay.
Going with the Current
Regardless of how strong the current is, always swim with it and never against it. Doing so will allow you to save plenty of air and energy, especially when it comes to stronger currents.
When you clear your mask, make sure you learn how to do it using one hand. The easiest way to clear your mask using one hand is to use your index fingers. Take your index finger and press it on the top of the mask while exhaling through the nose. During this time, tilt your head slightly back. Any water that remains in the mask will be flushed out at this time.
Learning how to do this task one-handed will be very important for those times when you need your other hand for another task, such as holding onto an ascent rope.
Clearing Your Ears
Clear your ears early, instead of waiting until it becomes painful. Waiting too late can put you at risk for a perforated eardrum. If you’re having issues with clearing your ears on your descent, going up a few feet can help with the process. If you’re unable to clear your ears, avoid continuing on the dive.
To prevent your mask from fogging up use some baby shampoo on the inside. Make sure the mask is rinsed off before you put it on in order to avoid getting the baby shampoo in your eyes. Keeping your mask clean will also prevent it from fogging up.
To prevent mask squeeze during descent, be sure that you blow through your nose into the mask in order to equalize the pressure of the mask’s airspace. When you forget to do this it can be embarrassing, but not really dangerous.
A diver will lose their regulator occasionally and have it knocked out of their mouth during a dive. Because of this, it’s a good idea to practice safe recovery techniques. Make sure you only practice regulator recovery with a dive buddy monitoring the situation.
These diving tips for beginners can help you feel more prepared during your first dive. Of course, before you even consider diving you need to go through the proper training program, which can also help you feel more comfortable and confident in the water. Diving is an experience like no other, but it can also be very dangerous as well, which is why it’s very important that you follow all of the proper safety precautions I’ve included here. Remember, never be afraid to speak with your dive instructor or diving partner and ask questions. Doing so will have you feeling more prepared when you’re in the water and can help you to remain calm and relaxed. Practice diving techniques whenever you can, in an empty pool, use the right gear, and stay close to your diving buddy in order to stay safe on your first dive.