Adventures in Scuba Diving Part 2

So Saturday comes, and finds us at Robin Hood Watersports for the first half of our PADI Open Water Course – the ‘confined’ element ie done in a pool.  Part classroom, part practical, these two days let you get to grips with all the skills you need to complete your Open Water Certification – the second half of which is done in true ‘open water’ at a old quarry at Capernwray near Carnforth.

By the end of the two days, we would have covered (this isn’t an exhaustive list by the way…) :

  • How to set up and breakdown your kit
  • Breathing underwater
  • How to purge your regulator
  • Regulator removal and recovery
  • Clearing of a half and fully flooded mask
  • Sharing air with your buddy via your spare regulator
  • Swimming with your buddy while they’re using your spare regulator
  • Swimming underwater without a mask
  • Fin pivots
  • Neutral buoyancy
  • Hovering
  • Removing your weights whilst at the surface and underwater
  • Removing your BCD and putting it back on, both at the surface and underwater
  • Safe Ascending and Descending
  • plus many other skills and techniques!

My biggest worries were around filling and clearing my mask – or more specifically, breathing underwater with either my mask full of water or indeed, without my mask at all.

As I mentioned in my previous post, I apparently breathe in through my mouth and nose at the same time – not an issue when my mask has its seal in place – you can’t breathe in through your nose then, as you have a vacuum in place – but as soon as that seal is broken (or removed completely) I ended up dragging water in through my nose and had a coughing fit… Not too worrying in a 3m deep pool but something I needed to break the habit on not only to get through this course, but to enable me to have the skills and confidence to safely handle this situation when a tad deeper than that!

I’d been thinking about this quite alot, as well as rummaging around the internet, and had a really good plan as to how I could try and rewire my brain so I didn’t swallow half the pool through my nose.  The main thread of this is – how can you ‘gasp’ ie accidentally drag in alot of water, when you’ve already filled your lungs with air!?!?  Surely if I timed filling or removing my mask to just after I’d taken my full breath in, that would work?  So, when it came to that part of the pool work I gave it a try.

This was pretty much my internal dialogue as I walked myself through what I needed to do for the full mask removal…

“Ok… breathe in, breathe out, breathe in, breathe out, straight after I take my next full breath in, I’m going to let water in and then remove my mask.. right – go!  And breathe out… oooo that feels a bit odd, I’ll just pinch my nose on the next breath in…and breathe out… ok, that feels ok… do that again… in….out… right let go of my nose… when I next breathe out…(in…) let go of my nose….(out…) fingers ready to pinch again if it feels odd…. breathe in… hey I didn’t breathe through my nose!  and out… and in…yayyyy still not taken water in through my nose… out… oooo my nose feels a bit bubbly…let me just squeeze some of the bubbles out of my nose with my fingers…that’s better…and in…out…OK…now what’s the plan to get my mask back on (in….)… right – find where my nose fits so my mask’s oriented right (out…) sort the strap out…ok… got a good grip? (In….)  Yep feels it…  (out…) Right  – after my next breath in I’m going to put the mask back on my face… (in…) ready… (out…) ok lets go… (in…) mask back on!  (out…in…out…) On my next breath in, tip my head forwards, use fingers on the top of my mask as I was shown, tip my head back and breathe out through my nose to clear out the water… ok go for it …In…. head down, fingertips at top, head up blowing through my nose….out….can I feel water still on my face…no….? (In…)  Yayyyyy I did it!!!!  (out…) High five the instructor, my husband and big two-handed OK signs to everyone!!!! ”

Anything else thrown at me over the two days was no problem!  Knowing I’d managed to overcome my challenges with the whole mask filling / swimming without my mask was brilliant.  Don’t get me wrong – I’ll be practising this lots before the open water part of the course in late March, and I’ll probably get it a bit mixed up when I do, but I know I can do it!

At this point I want to give a big ‘shout out’ to Simon, Juliane, Debbie and Mark.  Instructors Simon and Juliane – you guys gave me the confidence to do all the tasks I needed to during the weekend, and the most importantly the time to do things at my own pace – BIG thanks guys!  Dive Masters Debbie and Mark – you guys were great to have there to share your experiences and pass along your tips – thank you!  I look forwards to learning more from you all 🙂

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