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"Post" COVID-19 Dive Challenge: Go Solo!
Airworks - 7/27/2019 6:45 PM
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Category: Educational
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"Post" COVID-19 Dive Challenge: Go Solo!The COVID pandemic of 2019/2020 dramatically changed the way Americans participate in life and relationships. Even though many things are getting back to normal, new viral mutations and variants will continue forcing us to adjust and recalibrate. Looking to the future, it appears that the disruption of our taken-for-granted routines and freedoms by one or more of those little nasties is almost a foregone conclusion.

The pandemic, plus my unusual work schedule, makes it difficult for me to connect with buddies on a regular basis. Not only that, but most of the guys I buddied with have lessened their dive participation, or have stopped completely. The last couple times that buddy plans were set with someone, they opted out at the last minute.

So what’s a committed diver like me supposed to do?

Several years before the pandemic, a very wise dive instructor encouraged me to get Solo/Self-Reliant certified. I didn’t like the idea at first because "buddy-diving" was so ingrained in my thinking.

But thankfully I took his advice.

I’ve been Self-Reliant certified for quite some time now, and continue regularly diving with or without buddies.

Maybe it’s time for YOU to take the challenge.

Solo diving as a certifiable endeavor began in 2001, and has become increasingly popular. And due to situations like the aforementioned ones, it appears that Solo diving is here to stay.

So let’s cut to the chase. What are the pros and cons of going at it alone?


> The Solo diver is only responsible for themselves, thus eliminating the natural stress associated with the sense of being responsible for the safety of someone else. With the buddy system, the stress experienced by a diver affects both the diver AND those he/she is diving with, distributing the cognitive and emotional pressure among those in the group. After a while, some divers within the group may become anesthetized by a false sense of security; the "safety in numbers" effect. This in turn may cause individual divers to become careless and lose appropriate vigilance, putting the other divers at risk.
Diving solo also increases the stress level of an individual diver, but it’s a different kind. A certified self-reliant diver, for example, is trained to consciously remain alert and aware. They are incessantly reminded that they are alone in what could be a hostile environment. This, in turn, helps them to more effectively focus on the place-and-moment, allowing them to achieve a heightened sense of self, and environmental, awareness. Because of that, the solo diver is more inclined to experience the underwater world in a more meditative and contemplative way.

> The well-trained and certified Solo diver is “always prepared” with the proper gear and numerous redundancies such as an alternate and separate air source, an extra mask, a couple of cutting tools, etc., all intended to handle potential problems on their own. The slow process of deliberately stretching one’s personal "comfort zone" helps a diver to better manage panic levels and maintain focus on breath control. After all, if you’re still breathing, you can get out of most situations if you stay calm and THINK.

> There may be situations when a dive buddy or a family member is not readily available, and/or they may decide to opt out of the dive for one reason or another. For example, some buddies may plan for a two-or-more dive day, but then one may decide to abruptly stop after the first dive because they are too cold, need to run an errand, or attend to a personal matter. The certified Solo diver may then choose to dive alone. The sense of freedom and not being dependent on the decisions or whims of others is very liberating.

> Certain endeavors almost require solo diving, such as in the case of a professional photographer. Coordinating times and schedules with other divers may often hinder taking the “perfect shot.” Or maybe the photographer needs to spend a lot of extra time working with an uncooperative Moray eel. He/she is free to take as much time as necessary and not compromise the diving experiences of others.


> Scuba diving at any level is risky, and it’s obvious that going solo increases that risk. There may be no one around in case of an emergency, or to help in a difficult situation. The responsibility of the entire dive rests completely on the solo diver.

> Going solo will often require extra physical exertion, e.g. putting on and taking off your own wet or dry suit and tank ensemble. A solo diver must be very sure of their own physical capabilities.

Solo diving is not for the faint of heart, the squeamish, the unprepared, and the untrained. As divers, we must make informed decisions based on our skillsets, attitudes, and objectives.

The freedom of not being dependent on someone else’s availability or capability - nor on ideal public health circumstances - is perhaps solo diving’s most appealing aspect.

So go for it!