Everyone has a different emotion when it comes to diving for the first time. I’ve seen it all, a sense of
impending doom, unbridled excitement and somewhere in-between. Whichever category you
belong in, there is always a sense of estrangement when your face first goes below the surface,
taking your first breath is hesitant, because whether we like it or not, we are land animals.
I always tell my students, particularly the ones who might be experiencing some nerves, that the
best thing you can do for yourself is prepare. I get questions like “is it safe?” or “what about sharks?”
and my answer is always the same – The most common cause of diving related injuries is DIVER
ERROR. Put your faith in the gear, it’s designed to keep you safe. Put your faith in the sea, it’s not
trying to hurt you, and most importantly, have faith in your own ability. If you take the appropriate
steps, preparation and always remember to BWRAF (buddy check! If you haven’t already, your
instructor will teach you what this is during your confined water sessions), diving is one of the safest
sports out there.
Preparation for diving comes in many forms, the more you dive, the more you’ll get to know your
own routine. For myself, if I know I’m going for a dive, I’ll hydrate, avoid watching Jaws and check
over my kit the day before. When you’re gearing up for your first Open Water dive, there are
definitely a few things you can do.
First and foremost, please vocalize any concerns you may have! There is no shame in asking. Your
instructor will have heard it all (my favourite question to date is “can I wear nail polish under my
gloves?”) there truly is no such thing as a stupid question, if it’s on your mind, it’s worth it to ask. I
guarantee your instructor will have an answer for you.
Revisit your study material – I mean honestly, need I say more?
Consider buying some gear. Having your own equipment will be 100% more comfortable on the day.
Most dive shops do have quality equipment available for use and I expect it will be included in your
course costs, however, that’s not to say there will be a mask that fits your perfectly, which will make
all the difference.
The night before and the morning of, be conscious of what you’re eating/drinking. Avoid grease and
alcohol. There’s nothing worse than an unsettled stomach during or before a dive. Not only does it
make getting into the wetsuit that much more fun, breathing the dry air with a hangover is a feeling I
wouldn’t wish upon my worst enemy.
Diving is a phenomenal sport. It allows us to explore places that not many others have the privilege
of seeing. The feeling of weightlessness is the closest thing we non-astronauts can get to visiting
space. The creatures you’ll see under there are beautiful, and the diving community is one I promise
you’re going to love. I could go on and on about how great diving is, but it will be a bit quicker if you
just give it a go. Good luck for your first open water dive! Maybe we’ll see you on your Advanced
Open Water Diver course sooner than you think?