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The Top Ten Myths About Learning To Scuba Dive

Aug 23, 2007
Everybody has a lifetime of experiences that determine the way that we percieve things. In addition, other people are more than happy to impart their views as well. This means that, quite often, we get a rather skewed view about something before we have ever experienced it. This can serve to keep us out of trouble; however, it may also stop us from doing things we might otherwise want to do. Below is a non-exhaustive discussion around some of the things that might be barriers to people having a go at Scuba Diving. Hopefully, it is a balanced perspective that might serve to correct some misconceptions.

1. Its cold in the water

It is true that the body loses heat in the water much more quickly than in air. However, just as you would not go out in winter without your coat, hat and gloves, there are many exposure protection suits that are used by Scuba Divers. Modern materials that reflect the heat back to your body mean that these can now be lighter weight and less cumbersome than in the past. In very warm tropical waters, a shortie wetsuit (short arms and legs) will provide adequate thermal protection. If the water is cooler, a full length wetsuit can be used. The ultimate protection is offered by a dry suit. This, as the name suggests, keeps you dry and you can wear warm thermal clothing underneath it to keep warm. So, if properly dressed, just like going for a walk in the fall, you can actually keep warm and enjoy the dive.

2. It's too expensive

Like most things, you can spend a fortune if you want to. You can pop down to your local dive shop and pick all of the most expensive kit, then book yourself onto a 'trip of a lifetime' holiday. However, at the other end of the spectrum there are many active student dive clubs whose members get by on a relatively small budget. For everyone, there will be the right place on the scale. Dive clubs often offer low cost training, the trade off is that it can take a long time to complete the training. Dive centres are more costly, but it is what they do, all day, every day. There is usually a bit of one-off expense up front (initial training plus basic kit), it really is then up to you how much you want to spend on the sport.

3. Learning to dive is difficult

When teaching diving, we find that most of the skills that are perceived by students as 'difficult' are just because of preconceived ideas. Teaching children is easy, they don't have a lifetime of preconception, plus they generally don't tell each other that things are hard. The first thing to tell people on a course is to forget everything that anyone has told them about what it's going to be like. Everybody has their own experiences, everybody is different. It is exceptionally rare for anybody not to complete a diving course. Keep an open mind and be positive.

4. The training takes a long time

This myth stems from many years ago when recreational diver training was based on military training. Now the two, very different, activities have moved apart and the modern recreational diver training agencies have worked hard to make sure that the right amount of knowledge is delivered to students at the right time. Learning is prescriptive, and skills are learned by doing and practicing them. The ideology now is very much to get divers into the water more quickly, in a safe and controlled manner, such that they can build experience and learn. Most of the introductory diving courses from the major training agencies can be completed in about 4 days. Will you know everything there is to know after 4 days? No! Will you know enough to start to enjoy the amazing underwater world in a safe manner? Yes!

5. I am not fit enough

Do you need to be a fitness fanatic to be a good Scuba Diver? No. Like anything, it is always easier if you take care of yourself and are in good shape. In the water, we are weightless; the whole point is that it is supposed to be a relaxing way to spend your leisure time exploring the undersea world.

6. I am too old

You can learn to dive form age 10 to well into retirement. But as mentioned above, although you don't need to be a fitness fanatic, you do need to have general good health and energy levels. So if you are 70 and still in good health, you can still learn to dive!

7. There are sharks in the water

In most of the popular dive areas the local guides have more of an idea where to spot them (or not spot them if that's what you want!) but like anything else in the water, there is no guarantee of seeing them. There are of course, areas in the world where they are known to be more common, (like South Africa for example) where hundreds of divers flock to have a special close encounter with these amazing creatures. Unfortunately, films like 'Jaws' have given people the misconceived notion that sharks are highly aggressive and 'eat people' on a regular basis. This, of course, is not true; in most cases of shark encounters, the shark is swimming away from you! They are afraid of us and will only act in defence.

8. I am not a great swimmer

You do not need to be a great swimmer to scuba dive. For your own safety, as the sport takes place in and around water, it is important that you can swim and are reasonably comfortable in the water. However, you do not need to be an Olympic swimmer to enjoy scuba diving. The equipment that we use for scuba diving helps us effortlessly glide through the water.

9. I am claustrophobic

Don't panic, like many things you just need a bit of time to get used to the equipment. Once in open water most people find that far from being claustrophobic, the experience is liberating and free.

10. The theory is too hard

Learning to dive is a mixture of practical and theoretical exercises usually conducted in small groups with an instructor. In most of the entry level courses, you will be able to learn in a number of different ways, for example, if you know that you understand things better visually, you can watch a DVD or CD ROM and can even complete all of the theory online. If you prefer to read the information there are manuals and if you learn more easily by writing things down, there are questions and quizzes for you to complete. Information is provided progressively, the basics first then this is gradually built upon. The emphasis of any dive course theory is, as you might expect, safety. Your instructor will be on hand to help you with anything that you don't understand.

The content of this article is the writer's opinions and should not be relied upon. Always make sure that you seek professional instruction before engaging in scuba diving activities.
About the Author
Joe Clarke is the technical writer for Scuba Hut, London.

Scuba Hut is the only PADI Dive Centre in the Heart of the City of London, specialising in Scuba Diving Equipment, Training and Travel.
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