Studying to dive – what to anticipate from a scuba diving course

Studying to dive is just not notably tough, but it surely helps to know what you’ll really be doing throughout your entry-level scuba diving course, as somewhat little bit of prior preparation could make it only a bit extra pleasant


Entry-level scuba diving programs have three foremost elements – dive principle, confined water talent coaching, and open water sensible evaluation.

Programs sometimes take between 20-30 hours – plus one other 8-12 hours of unbiased research – a lot of which depends on native logistics and scholar availability. In a typical resort-based setting this can be take 3-5 days, however the time might be unfold over a number of weeks – even months – for college kids who’re studying to dive at weekends or within the evenings after work.

or is a few leeway about how the elements of the programs are organized, which can be based mostly on what amenities can be found to the dive centre. If the dive centre is near a pool or shallow-water coaching setting and adjoining to the open water setting, then it’s straightforward to combine all three elements collectively, topic to requirements of ordering mandated by the coaching businesses.

In different places, the place swimming pools, boats or lecture rooms could solely be obtainable at particular occasions or dates, the dive course could also be wholly sequential: a day of data growth adopted by a day of pool coaching adopted by open water evaluation dives on the final two days of the course.

Logistics could have a considerable affect on the timing of the course, and because of this it’s value noting {that a} three-day course doesn’t essentially imply that elements have been skipped. Armchair specialists can argue about that till the cows have come dwelling – however with logistical comfort and scholar who has ready effectively prematurely, you actually can be taught to dive safely in three days.

DIVE Journal’s Studying to DIVE sequence

Scuba diving programs half 1 – data growth

No one likes a classroom, however dive lecture rooms are typically nicer (Photograph: Outdoorworks/Shutterstock)

Scuba diving data growth covers the fundamentals of the physics and physiology of diving; methods to use and look after dive gear; the abilities you’ll want to maintain your self underwater; and essential details about the setting and methods to finest defend it.

Don’t be deterred! You do not want to carry a PhD – nor even a highschool diploma – in any of those topics. Do not forget that entry-level programs throughout the board are designed to be taken from the age of 10 and up, so there isn’t a want to fret in case your abilities lie in different instructions.

For instance: you should not have to know the physics behind the fuel legal guidelines to be taught that air areas contract below strain and increase because the strain is launched. You simply have to know that it occurs and methods to cope with it by equalising – or ‘popping’ – your ears; including or eradicating air from the buoyancy ‘jacket’ as you descend and ascend; and why you should by no means maintain your breath underwater.

Equally, in the identical means you don’t want to know the workings of an engine with a purpose to drive a automotive, you don’t have to know intimately how a set of regulators (the bit you breathe from) works, solely methods to examine them, use them, and correctly look after them.

It is vital that the data growth a part of a dive course is just not rushed or skipped. Some folks view it as a kind of crucial evil earlier than getting within the water – and no person needs to go on vacation to return to high school – however it’s important in your security, your enjoyment, and the preservation of the setting during which you may be diving.

Ensure you perceive what you’re studying, and don’t simply discover the precise little bit of principle which solutions a specific query.

The rise of eLearning

eLearning can enable college students to review at their very own tempo earlier than beginning the primary occasion (Shutterstock)

Most dive coaching programmes supply their data growth periods by on-line programs, and eLearning has grow to be an immense boon to the dive trade, permitting instructors to spend extra time working with their college students on in-water dive abilities than sitting in lecture rooms.

It really works finest if college students are in a position to be taught prematurely, in their very own time, earlier than beginning the sensible aspect of their dive programs. If you’re sure that you’re able to decide to an entry-level coaching programme, then most instructors would advocate that, if potential, you subscribe to a web-based programme a number of weeks earlier than beginning the primary occasion.

In the event you’re not sure (take a look at this earlier article in the event you’re not), otherwise you solely select to begin a course when you’re on vacation, then you will have to finish the data growth when you’re there, no matter whether or not you go for eLearning or old school paper e book. That is likely to be in a dive centre classrooom or studying the course materials whereas sipping cocktails below a heat and starlit sky by the pool – but it surely nonetheless means you’re spending a part of your vacation learning.

Whichever route you resolve to take, it’s most essential you decide to the training. I spent a whole lot of my tutorial profession educating different dive professionals, and one query I used to be requested a number of occasions throughout Divemaster programs was ‘Crowley, the place do I discover all this data?’ – to which I’d reply by holding up a duplicate of my PADI Open Water guide!

Scuba diving programs half 2 – sensible ‘confined water’ talent coaching

Pool coaching in very shallow water (Shutterstock)

The talent coaching part is known as the ‘confined water’ or ‘pool’ coaching – in that it might occur in a pool, or in a spot within the open water that has ‘swimming pool-like circumstances’: good visibility and little to no present, though (usually talking) extra fish.

That is the place your teacher will transient you on the abilities you’ll be taught in that session, exhibit them within the water and have you ever observe and repeat the talent till you’ll be able to achieve this comfortably and with out help.

You’ll be taught security drills corresponding to what do in the event you or your buddy ought to run out of air; sensible abilities corresponding to clearing the masks of water if it leaks; buoyancy abilities corresponding to studying methods to management your place by your respiratory alone; and the common signal language utilized by divers.

A few of the abilities are fairly straightforward, however a few of them – corresponding to having to take away and substitute your masks underwater – can typically take hours to comfortably repeat.

The primary and most elementary abilities are normally launched in water which is shallow sufficient to face up in along with your higher physique utterly out of the water. It’s a wonderful and straightforward introduction to the diving setting.

Confined water coaching may be carried out within the open water – so long as it has ‘swimming-pool-like circumstances’ (Photograph: Shutterstock)

If you’re at any level not comfy then you’ll be able to simply arise and take a second to get well. It typically takes a while to get the dangle of even the best of duties and it’s best to by no means let this get the higher of you. Chill out, relaxation, repeat.

Even in the event you get one thing proper first time, be sure you don’t cease at simply as soon as, and by no means be afraid to ask your teacher for extra time or for additional assist. There can typically be a specific amount of peer strain in a gaggle the place some could choose up the abilities extra rapidly than others, however regardless of how a lot you might really feel you must give into it, simply don’t.

All the time be trustworthy along with your issues and at all times ask for help or additional rationalization in the event you want it.  The talents progress from straightforward to tougher, and also you’ll be anticipated to exhibit your capability to carry out these abilities in a lot deeper water throughout the sensible software open water dives.  

The good kneeling on the ground debate.

During the last ten years or so, there was a a lot larger emphasis on studying to carry out abilities ‘within the water column’, which is to say, not kneeling or sitting on the underside of the pool or seabed. That is immensely helpful to scuba diving total, as a result of when you find yourself within the open water, there could also be nothing obtainable to assist you if you’ll want to regulate your gear or cope with an issue.

There are some, nevertheless, who assume that any coaching – even probably the most fundamental introductory coaching – carried out in a stationary, seated or kneeling place is invalid, and consultant of poor instructors following poor coaching requirements.

I disagree very strongly with this. The final word intention is, in fact, to have the ability to carry out all abilities mid-water, however remaining involved with the underside throughout early coaching and observe is usually essential to develop these abilities earlier than progressing to the water column.

It’s the identical as taking your first nervous seat behind the steering wheel of a automotive in a carpark, relatively than on a busy foremost highway. The intention is to drive comfortably on the busy foremost highway, but it surely helps if you understand how to work the sticks and pedals first.

Scuba diving programs half 3 – sensible ‘open water’ software

Open Water dive with a watchful teacher

The ‘Open Water’ or ‘Checkout’ dives are the place you lastly get to expertise a correct diving setting and exhibit your capability to manage your buoyancy, motion by the water, communication and air-checking abilities, cope with easy gear issues and reply to simulated emergency conditions.

Relying on company and placement, there can be between 4 to 6 deep water dives. All the abilities discovered within the shallow water periods can be assessed in a deeper water setting, when you additionally grow to be conversant in the brand new world you’re coming into. The utility of these abilities will grow to be obvious in a short time as you are feeling the consequences of the elevated strain, and the idea and coaching will remind you what you’ll want to do to compensate.

Many divers have an occasional wobble, however you might be as deep as 18m/60ft throughout these dives, and popping to the floor when you’ve got an issue is not an choice. There can be an teacher to take care of you, in fact, but it surely’s essential that you simply actually do get management of your abilities earlier than you end the shallow-water coaching.

One notably infamous talent – during which scholar divers should take away, substitute and clear their masks underwater – is usually the reason for issues throughout coaching. It’s by no means nice, however it might result in outright panic in any person who is just not comfy with the feeling of water on their maskless face.

scuba diver with mask removed underwater
With the ability to take away your masks whereas mid-water is an important scuba diving talent (Photograph: Shutterstock)

In the event you in any respect really feel unsure, or uncomfortable, about something, be sure you discuss to the trainer earlier than heading into deeper water. Don’t be afraid, nor ashamed, to choose for an additional day of shallow-water observe and remediation if crucial.

As talked about within the introduction, there might be some leeway in how course elements are organized inside a beginner-level dive programme, which suggests you the primary deep-water dives can happen earlier than all of the pool coaching has been completed. This relies on the company, the trainer, the scholar’s progress and native logistics, but it surely’s value mentioning that it’s completely regular.

It’s additionally value mentioning that the deep-water dives – particularly the ultimate two – could happen from a ship, which might be an attention-grabbing expertise for the uninitiated. Communicate along with your teacher when you’ve got issues and the potential for sea-sickness.

It might be somewhat nerve-wracking leaping into deep water for the primary time, and it’s very actually distracting with all of the underwater fish motion, however take note of your instructors and buddies, bear in mind your coaching and hold your thoughts on what you’re doing. 

The swimming check

Sooner or later, you’ll have to take a swimming check. The usual is to swim 200 metres unaided, though some programmes enable a 300m swim aided by masks, fins and snorkel. You may additionally be required to ‘preserve your self comfortably’ on the floor for ten minutes by floating or treading water.

As I at all times say: you should not have to be an Olympic athlete, nor do you must be a very good swimmer, you simply have to have the ability to fulfill these necessities comfortably and with out undue bodily or psychological stress.

Though the 300m snorkel swim could also be extra enticing, it’s not at all times potential, so assume you may be anticipated to swim the 200m model with out swimming aids.

In the event you can’t do it, you gained’t cross the course, so in the event you really feel that the necessities are past your present degree of health and swimming capability, then some pool time previous to your vacation is crucial.

A contented, newly licensed diver. However, severely, by no means put on your masks like this! (Photograph: NataliaVo/Shutterstock)


Each entry-level coaching program is designed to give you the data and abilities that you will want to be a reliable beginner-level diver.

No matter which company’s course you may have subscribed to, your teacher could have been skilled to supply that instruction based on a strict algorithm and requirements. There may be flexibility to the course define, however sure necessities have to be met earlier than sure progress is feasible. 

This isn’t to say that each course can be excellent and it’s – honest to say – neither is each teacher.

Within the subsequent article, we’ll take a look at a number of the varied buying and selling businesses and steps you’ll be able to take to go about reassuring your self that the dive centre and the trainer who can be educating you’re proper for the job.

Mark 'Crowley' Russell
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