Every diver was a new diver at some point, so it’s normal to feel a little nervous before a dive. You’ll enjoy a more relaxed dive if you avoid these common mistakes.
You took the time to get certified, but if you don’t practice what you learned, you’re likely to forget key rules and techniques. If it’s not in your budget to hop on a plane and fly to the Caribbean, see if there is anywhere you can practice diving nearby – a lake or rock quarry, for example. If not, a swimming pool works fine! Practice removing your mask and regulator underwater, as well as removing your weight belt. You can also work on your buoyancy.
If you’re new to diving, you shouldn’t be embarrassed to let the divemaster know. Chance are, if you have a question, there are others in the group who may have the same question but are afraid to ask. Most divemasters and experienced divers are more than happy to share their expertise.
While you generally need to stick with a group on organized dives, don’t feel like you have to gear up and jump in right away. Take your time checking your gear. You also don’t need to go as deep as the others or swim into wrecks or caves. Before you get even in the water, ask the divemaster what to expect and at what depth. Confirm with your buddy that you’re comfortable at about X feet down, and stick together. Descend at a pace you feel comfortable. You can always hover and swim 10’ or 20’ above a group (in good visibility) and still stay with them.
Snorkeling is great way to just get more comfortable in open water. So even if you’re hanging out at a sandy beach with not much to see underwater, grab your snorkel gear and go for a swim. If you’re on a dive trip and you can only afford a few dives or you can’t dive because you’re flying later that day, use the time to snorkel. Because you tend to snorkel in shallow water, the light is much better and you can actually see a lot!
Some divers are lucky and can easily equalize their ears by swallowing a few times as they descend, barely noticing the pressure. Most of us aren’t that lucky and need to be proactive when it comes to equalizing ear pressure.
Start on the boat, by just wiggling your jaw back and forth. Continue when you hit the water, before you even descend. Descend slowly, feet first and look up. If swallowing and jaw wiggling won’t do it, gently pinch your nostrils and blow. Ascend a few feet if you can’t release the pressure. Never continue descending if you can’t equalize the pressure.
In addition to diving frequently, the number one way to improve your diving skills and become more comfortable is to take another course, either an Advanced Open Water or other course. You can also take a refresher course do or a few one-on-one sessions with an instructor.
Did you make any beginner mistakes or wish you had known something you know now but didn’t when you were a beginner? Let us know in the comments section below!