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Scuba may not always be for everyone
tstormdiver - 4/13/2015 12:22 AM
Category: Training
Replies: 2

Despite the excitement some training agencies try to bring out, that "Everyone can learn to dive",.... I have learned over the past few years as an instructor, is false. Several reasons. 1. They may have a genuine fear of the water or what is in it. 2. They just do not have any interest in diving. 3. They may not be able to get the physical/ mental coordination to dive. OK,... I’ll back up for a minute. Perhaps yes, they CAN learn to dive (the skills), but is there the motivation to learn & then to do it.

A few cases in point, I have seen significant others, forcing, pressuring or pushing their partners to learn to dive, I have seen parents do the same to children. As an instructor, when I catch wind that someone is being pressured & really is not into it or fearful of diving, I try to give them an "out", while not causing them to lose face. I let them make the decision for themselves. Yes, it may upset the one pressuring, but do they really want a dive buddy (their loved one) that doesn’t want to be there, to risk injury, as someone who is fearful is more likely to panic? Once presented like that, most SO’s or parents will back off.

As for the physical & mental,... I taught an 80 y/o lady to dive. She really wanted to & was actually in very good shape for her age, but the weight & bulk of the equipment gave her problems on land & in the water. She could do the skills, but the equipment was in charge (she easily would get turned turtle in the water). I worked with her an entire summer. What we settled on, was I certified her as a Scuba Diver, instead of an Open Water diver. That meant she would have to be with a professional on dives, who could render assistance to her, to keep the equipment form causing injury to her. It was a decision we mutually agreed upon.

I have also worked with a lady who had a learning disability. She wanted ever so badly to be able to dive. I worked nearly 6 mos with her & we never got past the mask clearing stage. Breathing while water was directly on the face freaked her out. Although she was doing much better by the end of the 6 months, she still could not clear her mask without panicking or nearly panicking. In the end, I worked her snorkeling skills with her & she got quite good at it. Being on the surface while clearing the mask was no issue,... it was only when below the surface, she wanted to bolt every time. I told her to work the skills to comfort for a year or 2, then we would try to address the skills on scuba again. To be honest, I doubt she has practiced much.

For me to sign a student off to go from confined water to Open Water,... or from their check- out dives to certification, not only do they have to do the skills, but the skills must be dome without hesitation & with comfort. To not pass a student is a very difficult decision to make. I do not just drop that student, but I will offer to work with the student at not further charge for a reasonable amount of time to get them to where they are comfortable. Usually if the student truly does not want to do it,.. they will usually figure it out on their own,... though I have also had to have "the talk", see what is going on in their minds, what their motivations are. I try to be both empathetic & sympathetic with the student. I try to get them to understand, they really haven’t failed,.... they have just discovered that scuba is not really their thing & that’s cool!
Greg - 4/14/2015 5:40 AM
I have experienced a lot of the same things while teaching new divers. If someone can’t clear a mask, they won’t get certified. If they can do it, but struggle a bit, then I may consider giving them the Scuba Diver (not Open Water Diver) rating which requires them to dive with a dive master or instructor. Open Water Divers must be comfortable with mask flooding and clearing, plus complete mask removal. I recommend that new divers, that have complications with this skill, should practice in a pool or large bath breathing through a snorkel without holding their nose.
tstormdiver - 4/14/2015 6:12 AM
I have had students that could not swim at all, those that are very uncomfortable with removing the regulator, those that are claustrophobic, those that just do not want to do it, but were being pressured to do so (including a parent that threatened their kid in front of me) & those that took the course to try to get over their fear of water.