Many new divers are often concerned about the correct way to enter the water on a dive. In reality, there are several scuba diving entry methods to choose from. The type of entry method you use can depend on the type of vessel your diving from and your comfort level. Every driver will learn at least one type of entry technique to use during their diving instruction course. However, once the diver begins to dive in different water conditions they’ll discover that there are many ways they can enter the water. In most cases, the diver can choose the entry method that they’re most comfortable with. Here, we’ll go over the different types of entry methods to choose from and how they work.
Choosing the right entry method can help improve your dive, whether your goal is to freedive deeper, to safely dive around coral reefs, or you’re out in the water for the first time in choppy water conditions and you’re worried about the current or crashing waves. The type of entry method you choose can depend on weather conditions, water conditions, your skill level, and the type of vessel you’re diving from. As an example, you may need to use a back roll entry method if you’re diving off a smaller vessel such as a dinghy. While it’s true that you can often rely on the entry method that you’re most comfortable with, in some cases, you won’t have a choice and you’ll need a strategy in order to choose the right type of method based on the situation. Below, you’ll find the most common methods of water entry used by divers.
The giant stride is the most common entry method used. Basically, it’s executed as the name implies, by taking a big step into the water.
In order to perform it correctly, you’ll need to stand on the edge of the platform with the tips of your feet over the edge. At this time, you’ll want to ensure that all of your gear is on and adjusted correctly with your BCD inflated halfway. Take a look at the water to note whether or not it’s clear of any other divers or any type of obstacle or hazard. You’ll also want to look to the sides and below to ensure that there’s no diver about to swim into your entry zone.
Next, place one hand on your regulator with your fingers over your mask to make sure that it remains securely in place once you hit the water.
Your other hand should be placed on your weight belt which will prevent it from opening, or on the strap of your mask.
Next, look toward the horizon and stand up straight. Doing so can help you step far enough away from the diving platform to prevent you from hitting the back of your tank against it. Once you’re ready, take a large step forward using one foot. And that’s all there is to it. Once you hit the water, make sure that you signal to the people on the boat to let them know that you entered the water safely. To do you’ll simply stick your thumb up and give the okay signal.
This type of entry method is best to use when you’re entering deep water from a stable platform such as a liveaboard, larger dive boat, or a deck. This method is also commonly chosen when the water is deep enough to step off a jetty or pier.
For whatever reason, this type of entry method is not often taught in diving class. This method is a common one used when boat diving. For some divers, it can also be one of the most intimidating entry methods to use. Many divers are afraid that they will feel disoriented in the water, will hit their tank or head on the boat, or lose their gear as they somersault into the deep. Fortunately, once you know the correct steps, executing this type of dive will not only be simple but you’ll find that it’s one of the easiest and handiest entry methods to use in a variety of water and weather conditions. This method is best used when you’re entering the water from a small vessel such as a rigid inflatable boat or a dinghy. To learn more, click here to read my guide on perfecting your back roll scuba diving entry.
This diving entry method is not quite as commonly used as the back roll or the giant stride, however, it’s very easy to perform and can come in handy in certain situations.
To execute this entry method, you’ll begin by sitting all geared up on the edge of a dock or boat wearing the best scuba diving fins. Your fins should be kept dangling over the water while both of your hands are placed on the edge next to you. Next, lift yourself up using your hands and lower yourself into the water. To ensure that you don’t hit yourself or hit your tank on the side of the platform make sure that you push your body away from it as you enter the water. This type of technique is best used when you’re dealing with shallower waters, especially if the water is too shallow for a giant stride or back roll. This method can also be used if the platform is low enough. In many cases, it’s the best choice for senior or disabled divers.
When you’re diving from shore, you’ll need to elevate the surf zone and assess the conditions in order to determine how you’re going to navigate it. If the dive site that’s chosen has no surf zone or it’s small, there’s a hazard tree train, or there’s minimal current action then entering the water will be very simple.
At this time, you’ll want to put on all of your gear with the exception of the fins. Instead of putting them on and securing them, you’ll hold them in one hand. Next, slowly walk backward into the water, be sure that you don’t step on any sharp objects. Once your chest-deep in the water and your mask is in place with your BCD inflated and your regulator in your mouth, be ready to put your fins on.
Begin swimming backward with the BCD inflated. Continue swimming until the water is deep enough for you to make your descent. While kicking remember to watch your reference point on shore. Doing so will allow you to stay on course and can determine whether the current is carrying you down the beach. Additionally, this type of visual reference will allow you to easily find your way back to the entry point once you’re ready to surface.
If the entry zone has rough rocks or pounding surf then the entry will be very difficult. Observing the waves and carefully evaluating the conditions will be the key here. If you have determined that entry here is not manageable then never be afraid to call the dive. It’s much safer to come back another day when there’s smaller, shorter waves, or less wind.
However, if you have determined that to dive is manageable follow the steps below in order to safely enter heavy surf.
Now you’re ready to enter the water with your mask and fins already in place and your BCD inflated with the regulator in your mouth. At this time, you’ll want to avoid carrying a camera, since you’ll need to focus on keeping yourself steady.
Next, you’ll walk into the water sideways. By doing so you’re minimizing the impact that any oncoming waves will have on your body. Once you’re deep enough into the water you’ll let out all of the air in the BCD so you can descend to the bottom
Using your hands pull yourself deeper into the water coordinating with the lull and pull of the waves. If you end up getting knocked over by a wave avoid trying to get up. Instead, you’ll pull your body forward in a seated position or by crawling on all fours, until you’re deep enough to begin finning.
Aside from the five types of entry methods that I’ve discussed here, you will encounter many other types of methods such as donning your equipment once you’re in the water, the ladder entry, or the forward roll. As you obtain more experience, choosing the correct entry method will feel like second nature but until then, consider using one of the five methods I’ve covered here and consider the conditions of the dive site in order to determine which method is best.