5 Ways to Become a Better Diver

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You’ve completed at least your Open Water course, and maybe you’ve bagged some dives. Entry level courses teach us the basics but we can always learn more!

We dive because it enables us to temporarily become members of a fascinating, ethereal underwater world, allowing us to experience sensations and see amazing sites non-divers never do.

However, diving has its risks, which is also part of its appeal — the thrill of adventure and all that. The good news is you can minimize your risks by following some common sense guidelines.

Safer Diving = Enjoyable Diving

#1) Plan Your Dive and Dive Your Plan

It’s easy to get distracted underwater while you watch a reef shark or an eagle ray glide past, meanwhile your air supply is steadily depleting, possibly leaving you short for your ascent .

Or you just really want to see the underside of that sunken wreck, even though it’s 100’ down and you planned for 75’. Suddenly, you’re much deeper or farther away from your exit point than you meant to be and you’re low on air.

Stick to your plan.

Always discuss with your buddy your planned depth and time before you hit the water. If you’re diving with a new buddy, make sure you agree on hand signals before descending.

#2) Practice Neutral Buoyancy until You Master It

This elusive yet crucial skill is a key to safe and enjoyable diving. If you’re over-weighted, you might bonk onto the reef and destroy marine life as you struggle to pump air into your BC (which can chew up your air faster than you realize). Check out our earlier post for some buoyancy tips.

The riskier problem is if you’re struggling to ascend and you can’t — because you’re over-weighted and low on air.

Bodies of water are an ever-changing environment, so what may work in one environment or conditions may not work in another.

Use your safety stop to practice neutral buoyancy and learn to adjust for varying conditions such as colder water and a thicker wetsuit.

#3) DON’T EVER Hold Your Breath!

We cannot emphasize this enough. Exhale on descent and ascent – bubbles are your friends! Make sure you’re inhaling and exhaling consistently to avoid pulmonary baro-trauma — in other words, ensuring that gas doesn’t escape into your bloodstream and chest cavity and create embolisms which can be fatal.

#4) Remember Basic Skills

This one is kind of a no-brainer but sometimes we can forget the basics such as knowing how to use or provide an alternative air source to a buddy. If you find yourself in an out-of-air situation and must do a Controlled Emergency Swimming Ascent, it’s a fine line between a safe outcome and a dangerous one.

Check out this video from Dive Training Magazine for some advice:

#5) Dive When and Where You Feel Comfortable

We dive because it’s fun, exhilarating and interesting. If you find yourself in a situation where:

  • Conditions such as low visibility or rough seas make you uncomfortable
  • You are fatigued or feeling ill
  • Everyone else on the dive wants to dive to an extreme depth or in strong currents but you don’t
  • You just don’t have a good feeling about the dive or the divemaster in charge

You’ve probably heard “dive within your limits” and it’s true. Even a dive site you dive one day can have different conditions the next, so it’s not only okay to opt out of a dive, it’s the wiser thing to do. Do yourself a favor and set your  machismo (or machisma) aside so you’ll be around to do another dive at another time!

Consider taking more courses such as Advanced Open Water or a Rescue course and hone your skills.

Serving the north Dallas area, Scuba Toys offers year-round courses. Swing by our shop at 1609 S Interstate 35E, Carrollton, TX 75006, call (972) 820-7667 or visit us online to learn more!

Do you have any other suggestions you can share with our readers about becoming a safer diver? Let us know in the comments section below!

Image attribution: https://www.flickr.com/people/42507736@N02

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5 Ways to Become a Better Diver
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Our basic classes teach us exactly that - the basics. Here are five ways to become a better - and safer - diver.
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5 responses to “5 Ways to Become a Better Diver”

  1. Melissa W. says:

    Great tips – especially on the “different conditions” part. I’m an experienced diver but once on a dive in Hawaii, I was wearing a heavier wetsuit than I normally wear and found out as I neared the end of my dive, I was under weighted. As my tank became lighter, it took everything I had to swim downward to stay under. My buddy saw me and was able to grab me just long enough to avoid a really rapid ascent. Even so, I suffered some ear trauma from the drastic pressure change.

  2. Darryl Zenisek says:

    Listen to the dive briefing, even if you dove the site before. I was on a dive off the Channel Islands in CA and I noticed this one guy messing with his phone during the dive brief. Sure enough, the guy got separated and ended up surfacing a LONG way from the boat. He’s lucky the boat captain spotted him with binoculars and was able to go pick him up.

  3. Ricardo says:

    Another tip is to ensure your diving gear fits properly. Having a professional fit will ensure a better dive.

  4. L. Capone says:

    I recommend having an experienced dive buddy who understands your fears and is open to helping you work through them.

  5. Simon says:

    Good suggestions. Taking classes, going on guided trips and diving with other experienced divers are all great ways to acquire knowledge and become a better diver.

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