The short and immediate response you will receive from any diver is “It’s F$%^&N AWESOME!!” swiftly followed by many tales of excitement and fish – This BIG.
In reality it’s quite natural for everyone to feel nerves to some level before entering the water and indeed during the first few minutes and sometimes beyond. Of the copious amount of students I have introduced to this wonderful sport, I have only encountered a handful that actually do not have any nerves or doubts at all.
So what do we usually encounter, what type of characteristics come to fruition and how do we overcome them?
First and foremost we have the clear differences between male and female….
Men (especially when in a group comprising of strangers) suffer from that one trait that we all naturally posses at some level; the ‘Alpha Male’ Gene. “Me, nervous? never.” probably the most annoying trait any dive pro can come across. Usually this problem deals with itself as soon as the student descends for the first time in chest high water. “OK guys, masks on, regs in, LPI hose raised, deflate and kneel down.” 10 seconds later the Alpha Male is standing up to exit the water like Usain Bolt hearing the starters pistol. A quick honest chat from the dive pro and some acknowledgment from the student and we can get over the ego and crack on with the fun.
Women on the other hand have no hesitation or shame in vocalizing their doubts/ nerves/ fears – ‘Bob on!!’ we can work with this straight away removing the majority of apprehensions before even signing up for your first dive. Oh and incidentally, when Mr Alpha Male stands up it’s usually you guys with wearing the smug grin and receiving that look from your dive pro that says, yeah I know you’re grinning, me too!!
Many people travel together and elect to do exciting things along the way, this is where the ‘Tag-along’ friend/partner comes into play. Time and again travelling buddies or better halves go along with the group decision or ‘do it because the others wanted to’ and in almost all cases the tag-along would certainly not elect to go diving under their own steam. The majority of students that drop out of a course are in this bracket. So guys, if you need someone to hold your hand and your mate or partner would rather be sipping cocktails or beers all afternoon; hold your instructors hand, they secretly love it!
‘Fish Fear’– What if a shark eats me? What if the fish surround me? What if I get swallowed by a Whale? You would not believe some of the questions we here on a daily basis, 9 times out of 10 it’s all down to the media. Jaws, what a movie classic but oh my god, the first time I dived on a Wreck I was just waiting for the head to pop out of the window. Lets put fiction aside and check out reality for a mo, sharks do not and will not attack unless provoked, in a feeding frenzy or mistaken identity. Have a trawl for shark attacks on divers, they are extremely rare, ultimately you are just another big fish in the sea and as such you get treated like any other fish that a shark may encounter. As for the fish surrounding you, well that’s the whole idea….to swim with the fishies!!! And as for the likelihood of being Moby Dicks next meal, they eat Krill, 1-3mm long animals, it’s safe to say that you are just a tad too big a meal even for the big boys.
The Non-Listener, you know the one’s, the one’s that know what you are going to say or are trying to guess the ending of your sentence to look smart. Ultimately they spend far too much time trying to look clever and end up missing all of the pertinent points in your education; this then transfers to the water and all that hard work in looking smart just takes you straight to the bottom of the class. Top tip- 2 ears, 1 mouth, use them in that ratio and you’ll be a hell of a lot smarter post dive experience.
The ‘Non-Swimmer’. Yes, you might be surprised that on a regular basis we have people who cannot swim that want to become a diver. This in itself is not an issue, we can teach you, it just an extra day or two for you to be able to overcome the mandatory swimming requirements (200 m unassisted & 10 minutes floating). Besides the obvious reason of being in water, the ability to swim is for your safety and it also goes massively against rule number 4 in diving- look cool & have fun- thrashing around like a puppy in a bath is far from cool.
I could go on and on but I am sure you get the gist now. The overwhelming desire to look cool, not show fear or nerves & only half listen to what your dive pro is saying is only going to disrupt your experience and that of your peers.
Yes, descending into liquid and breathing is not natural, of course it’s a bit freaky, but that’s what makes it so frickin cool! So be honest with us, if you are sh^&*ing Tiffany cufflinks, scared of some water in your mask, need help swimming; We are Dive Pro’s…..looking after you and producing the latest Scuba Gods & Goddesses is what we do best. Get out there, find a professional and start living the life aquatic.