Editor’s note: I would like to introduce a new guest writer to The Loadout Room: Larry Bainbridge. Larry is a veteran of 3rd Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment. His passion is SCUBA Diving; he is a PADI Master Scuba Diver Trainer, PRISM 2 eCCR Diver, technical diver, founder of 38th Parallel Divers (38thParallelDivers.com), and author of the PADI 38th Parallel Diver Distinctive Specialty.
At one point or another I am sure that the thought of diving down and seeing what’s at the bottom of a lake, pond, stream, or even the ocean has probably crossed your mind. For me, I had always heard about people going diving and I was intrigued. My journey into diving began relatively late in life because when I had the time to take the courses, I never had the money. That changed when I took a job working in South Korea.
After I had been working overseas for about a year, I signed my wife and myself up to take the PADI (Professional Association of Diving Instructors) Open Water Course. This course is designed to teach a non-diver how to become a diver. At the end of the course, a diver is certified to dive to a max depth of 18m / 60 feet.
The first step in becoming a diver is to find a dive center and instructor that you trust. You want someone who will be honest and tell you that you don’t have to spend thousands of dollars on equipment to have a good set of equipment. Don’t hesitate to ask, “Why should I dive with you and your shop versus shop XYZ?” They should respond positively and provide a history of knowledge, safety, and the ability to support your needs.
Most PADI Open Water courses start one of two ways: either online, via e-learning, or through self-paced book reading. There are also accompanying videos, questions, quizzes, and even a test at the end. Depending on your instructor, you might do all the reading first and then hit the pool and ocean, or you might break it up by tasks and sections.
Our training started a few weeks before our scheduled pool time. My wife and I went through e-learning at night after work and quickly moved through the content. PADI has a collection of e-learning courses that are easy to follow and provide in-depth quality content. Once we had completed all the required quizzes and questions from the e-learning, we were given a certificate to present to our instructor on pool day.
Hitting the water
Early on a Saturday morning, we finally met our instructor at a local pool and were quickly introduced to the world of diving. We began with the final test and basic swimming skills (200-meter swim and 10 minute float), then we went through equipment setup and use, and quickly progressed into skills.
The first time I was in the water (shallow water), I was instructed to put the regulator into my mouth and put my head under the water. For me, this was the strangest sensation—I was a nose breather. Since your mask covers your nose, I experienced a small moment of panic as I tried to breath underwater for the first time. I couldn’t get a breath through my nose. Looking over at my wife who was having a great time blowing bubbles, I resolved that there was no way I would take my head out of the water first.
The rest of the pool session was pretty straightforward: The instructor would demonstrate each skill, followed by us completing the skill to standard. Throughout the course we were allowed to swim around the pool to become more comfortable and practice our buoyancy. Now that we had completed all of our confined-water diving, we were ready to hit the ocean!
Stay tuned for part two.
(Featured image courtesy of aquaticdreamsdiving.com)