Once you have started down the path of taking SCUBA certifications you will be involved in a lot of classwork and in-person teachings. In these classes, you will review the equipment basics and learn about the dive tables that are used for recreational diving. You will go over aspects of all the equipment and sizing and certain tips and tricks for gearing up. Once you have done the classroom portion of your beginner divers training you will take your first plunge into the water… pool water to be precise. Pools are used in training before hitting the open water because it’s a controlled high clarity environment where you can only go so deep and can make mistakes without the risk of getting hurt. Once you plop into the pool, you will experience the first 5 scuba techniques for a beginner diver, these are important tricks to master.
Breathing from a Regulator
Likely the first thing you will do after suiting up is to plunk down in the shallow end and just learn to breathe through a regulator. The first experience of breathing underwater is likely what will hook you into the scuba lifestyle, those first breaths are life-changing as you will feel like an alien on a new planet. Breathing underwater is not a natural thing to do so there will be some hesitancy, but that’s just a normal part of learning. It seems straightforward to breathe in and out, but the trick with regulators is that you want to sip the air from them like a hot coffee on a cold day, rather than pull with all the force of a high school kid hitting a bong for the first time.
The reason for mastering breathing techniques and being gentle with the inhale is that the harder you breathe the more air you waste, and the precious air is what keeps you down for long. You will also learn with time that your breath is a key component of your buoyancy control. To do this, and to dive safely you must breathe gently and continuously. Holding your breath in scuba diving is problematic and dangerous. (See Overexpansion Injuries) As funny as this sounds you will need to practice your breathing, as this is the first basic principle.
Mask Flood and Clear
Imagine you are swimming along and a fish with opposable thumbs rips your mask off your face, you grab your mask but it’s full of water, now what? You will need to know how to fix a flooded mask, and quickly because salt water is especially hard on the eyes. Now you may say what are the chances of that happening, but you would be shocked at how handsy some octopi might get with your mask. Even if you aren’t wrestling and sea creatures your mask is bound to have some water ingress and the best way to deal with it is this basic technique in class 1. All you will be doing is pinching the top of your mask to your forehead and then blowing it out through your nose with your head slightly back. It’s not a hard technique but is fundamental and will be something you practice over and over until you have it mastered.
Dodge, Duck, Dip, Dive, and Dodge… there are many entry methods where you will be dodging hazards and entering with a dive or a dip… don’t hit the ducks. Honestly, entries will be taught early on and most are easy to do. The first you will learn is a simple stride jump that is a low impact jump off an edge (like a pool deck) and will have you in a controlled fashion entering the water. There is the front roll and back roll, both of which are to avoid overhead hazards, the back roll being the most common. The back roll is an easy entry as you prepare everything in the boat and then flip off the back nice and easy. All of these entries require you to have your BCD slightly inflated and a hand over your mask while holding your regs and gear close to your chest, so nothing gets caught up.
This is the name of the SCUBA game, this is the hardest of the 5 techniques to master but will be key in good diving. Learning to become neutrally buoyant requires good weighting and controlled constant breathing. You will learn this by bouncing around on the bottom of the pool then popping up to the surface accidentally until you master it. The trick to good buoyancy is knowing your equipment, and how much juice to give your BCD when you need to go up or down. As you get more comfortable in the water you will need less weight and you can slowly start trimming your angles. This one will take a long time to master and will always be changing as you move to dry suits and multiple tanks. Don’t get discouraged if you don’t have a mastery of the buoyancy, it will get better with time.
Emergency Ascents (In a Pool Only)
The keyword here is emergency! You will practice this in a pool, and it will be under close supervision, but it is an important skill to know. Before we talk too much about it, I want to remind you, BREATH CONTINUOUSLY. This exercise can be dangerous if you aren’t exhaling. When you are in the pool your instructor will get you to do an ascent from the bottom (8ft) and get a feel for how quickly you can rise when inflating the BCD.
The emergency ascent is broken into two types, controlled and uncontrolled. A controlled ascent will use your BCD inflation and be slower. An uncontrolled will be by removing your weights and laying on your back as you ascend, blowing out continuously. The uncontrolled ascent is an important emergency tool in your toolbox but is not something to be practiced in the open water and without supervision. I recommend that all drivers know where their weights are and how to release them quickly, but never actually use this feature, unless you are in a life-or-death situation.
These are the first 5 techniques you will learn in your SCUBA certification. When you master these tools you will be set up for success in the diving world. Check out our blog on beginner diving!