Tag Archive: skills

How to Develop Your Diving Skills

With any skilled pastime, it is important to keep your technique sharp. Many divers only dive once a year (or even less frequently), and it is easy to forget even basic skills during your time off from diving. Honing your skills in sheltered water is a good way to stay proficient.

Varying the Routine

Skills exercises don’t have to be simple drills. Introducing an element of fun or setting an objective can motivate you to train for longer. Games for the pool or sheltered water include “hide the mask,” which forces you to navigate and search without your mask; or you can practice breath control by performing simple exercises without breathing apparatus, such as retrieving objects from the bottom, or swimming through a series of hoops, extending the course as your stamina improves.

1. “Hide the mask” begins with an “OK” signal from the seeker, once the diver who is going to hide the mask has removed it.

2. The seeker closes his eyes while the hider finds a corner of the pool to put the mask in, and returns to signal the seeker to start searching.

3. The seeker opens his eyes and starts to methodically search the pool bottom until the mask is found and replaced.

Removing and Replacing Gear

Familiarity with your basic gear is a vital skill. One exercise that helps to foster confidence in this area is to remove your scuba unit- that is, your BC and breathing apparatus, all fully connected and put it back on underwater, keeping your regulator in your mouth throughout. This exercise should be carried out at the bottom of a pool or in sheltered water, and if you are a beginner or haven’t tried this before, it may be useful to have an instructor present who can guide you through the process. Start by undoing all fastening clips on the front of your BC: and pull your left arm out of it first (even if you are left-handed), using your right arm to pull it around to your right. The BC jacket should now be in front of you, between you and if; tank. Keep the hose for your regulator second stage between your arms (otherwise it may get caught under you shoulder strap when you put the unit back on). Then put the scuba unit back on by reversing the operation.

For an extra challenge, once you have removed your BC, try removing your regulator from your mouth and swimming away to a distance of about 30 ft (10 m), before returning and putting your gear back on again.

Alternatively, try entering the water without your gear, then putting it on while treading water, keeping your head above the surface. This is a much more difficult exercise, and should only be carried out under the guidance of an instructor.

Introduction to Diving Problem Solving Skills

Diving is a safe sport if you follow the rules, avoid taking unnecessary risks, and always dive with a buddy. But that does not mean you will never encounter difficulties during a dive. Learning how to anticipate and solve problems is part of becoming an accomplished diver.

Anticipating Equipment Problems

It is rare that equipment fails during a dive, but you should nevertheless take great care when assembling, storing, and servicing your gear. After all, this is what keeps you alive underwater, so it is worth spending time and money on keeping it in perfect working order.

Consider “what if” situations ahead of a dive, and think through how you will deal with the failure of any element of your gear. Do you have a spare if your buddy is not close by? Your regulator should always have an octopus second stage, to use as a backup in case your main second stage fails.

Free and Buoyant Ascents

If you run out of air, locate your buddy and follow the procedure below: If you cannot find your buddy, you will need to make a rapid “free ascent” by finning to the surface. This can be aided by ditching your weights, but be ready for a sudden increase in buoyancy. Breathe out slowly during ascent to prevent lung expansion injury. If, however, you have a little air left, you can make a more controlled “buoyant ascent.” Let some air into your BC to kick-start your ascent, and tilt your head back to watch for the surface. Again, breathe out during the ascent, control your ascent rate by venting air from the BC, but not so much that you lose buoyancy. Do not rise any faster than your exhaled bubbles. At the surface, signal to boat cover immediately. If there is no boat, swim to the shore. Your buddy will need to be found and, as you have ascended without safety stops, you will need to be monitored for DCS.

Making Emergency Lifts

If your buddy is unconscious or injured, keep their regulator in their mouth and perform a buoyant lift to get them to the surface. This means holding on to your buddy’s harness as you ascend, using their BC to adjust buoyancy for both of you. Alert any boat cover once at the surface. If your buddy is not breathing, artificial ventilation (AV) may be needed until medical help arrives. If there is no cover, or if you are close to shore, you may decide to tow your buddy to safety. Both towing and AV require special training; if your dive training did not cover them, a life-saving course is recommended.

Overcoming Panic

If you feel panic coming on, alert your buddy, stop moving, and steady your breathing. If your buddy panics, reassure them with hand signals but observe them from a safe distance, since a flailing arm can knock your regulator from your mouth or injure you. When they have calmed down, hold their hand or arm, make sure their regulator stays in place, and remain close until normal breathing resumes.