Exploring nature’s underwater ecosystem opens your eyes to a world of new wonders and fascinating sights. For first-timers, scuba diving may inspire a mixture of excitement and tension as you venture into unfamiliar territory.
It’s natural to feel a little jittery about descending into the underwater world but don’t let your doubts and fears rob you of a wonderful experience. Here are some things that you can expect on your first scuba dive that might help calm your nerves and change apprehension to enthusiasm.
Possible initial dive experiences
- Taking your initial dive in a controlled setting – Don’t worry because your dive instructor will not let you plunge in the ocean until you have acquired the necessary diving knowledge and skills. You can enroll in a course, like the Scuba Diver Certification Course, where they teach you the basics in a classroom, pool, and ocean dive sessions. After learning basic scuba diving concepts, a diver will have his/her first dive in a controlled dive site such as a pool or shallow bay to allow the diver to apply diving concepts, get familiar with the diving equipment, and practice basic scuba skills before going into the open water.
- Breathing through a scuba regulator – Taking your first breath underwater using a scuba regulator may seem quite strange but with proper guidance from a professional diving instructor, you will get used to the feeling until you become comfortable breathing through your mouthpiece. Just keep in mind that exhaling fully after each breath will prevent you from feeling strained for air. Adjusting to regulator breathing may not be the same for everyone; some may adjust quickly while others may take a little longer to get accustomed to their scuba equipment.
- Feeling of weightlessness – Buoyancy is the feeling of weightlessness in the water which is one of the best parts of scuba diving once you’ve learned the ropes. This acquired skill allows a diver to glide gracefully in the water without exerting too much effort. For first time divers, buoyancy may seem tricky but don’t stress yourself because it may take a few dives before you can master this skill. Water is dense and it’s natural to feel the resistance around you when you move. However, the more you struggle your way underwater, the more oxygen you consume and the shorter your dive becomes. The trick is to relax and use controlled movements when you make your way underwater. The trained dive instructor will teach you the right amount of weight to carry for your dive and how to fine-tune your weighting and trim. Expect your dive instructor to tackle other factors that influence buoyancy such as BC inflation, exposure suit, depth, and breath control.
- Underwater Noise – During your initial dive in shallow water or first plunge in open water, you might feel distracted by the loud noises created by your breathing. The sounds may seem like it’s coming from the rear which can be confusing during the first few minutes. Don’t fuss about it because you’ll be able to tune out the sound the longer you stay in the water. Try to focus on your colorful surroundings to lessen the distraction of the underwater noise.
- Limited underwater vision – Most scuba diving masks hamper or totally obstruct a diver’s peripheral vision resulting to blind spots. A first-timer might have the tendency to panic when it becomes challenging to see and maneuver through the water. Remain calm because your dive instructor will guide you which way to look and where to make a turn during your dive. Another way to compensate with reduced peripheral vision is to keep your head on a swivel. Meaning, you have to move your head and constantly scan from left to right so you’re aware of the things around you.
- Strong desire to pee – When you submerge in water lower than your body temperature, you may experience a physiological reaction referred to as “cold water immersion diuresis” wherein you feel the urge to pee during or right after swimming. A first-timer may feel a strong desire to pee during the dive but too ashamed to do so. Many experienced divers pee during open water dives but if you’re learning to dive in a pool setting or using a rental suit, you need to hold it or you might want to end the dive.
Diving is a rewarding experience especially when you get accustomed to it. The more you dive, the better skills you acquire and more confidence you gain in the water. With time, effort and commitment, you’ll find yourself completely at home in the underwater world.