As far as adventure sports go, scuba diving is one of the safest. Statistics on diver fatalities show that diving is actually safer than running a marathon, childbirth, and driving a car. But the fact is, human beings are not designed to breathe underwater and we rely on our equipment, skills and training to let us do it safely. It is also worth noting that not every dive “accident” is a fatal one; “minor” accidents can take the form of ruptured eardrums, or soft tissue injuries. Dive training is designed to prepare divers comprehensively for specific environments, and to help them avoid avoid and deal with even complications.
THE PROBLEM WITH BEING TOO GOOD
It’s true; some people are naturals, taking to scuba like, well, fish to water. They glide around with perfect buoyancy, unfazed by mask clearing, instinctively blowing bubbles when they’re supposed to. But while these types are a joy to teach, as I’m signing their certification cards, I always take a few extra moments to impress upon them the importance of further training. You see, students who have had to work a little harder to master some skills, or who have had to overcome fears to make it to the end of the course, are people who understand their limitations, as well as the potential risks. They realise that there are environments in which they might not be comfortable and they have learnt to deal with sensations of discomfort, stress, or even fear, underwater. They know that diving in unfamiliar environments will need more training so that they can master the skills to let them explore in safety. “Natural” divers with limited experience might never feel fazed until it’s too late – until they find themselves in a situation underwater that they are not trained for, and have no idea how to handle.
THE BRAVEST THING IS TO ADMIT YOUR WEAKNESSES
It’s worth remembering that there are unscrupulous, gung-ho guides out there, who will take Open Water divers inside wrecks, or down to 40 metres, convinced that because they have never had a problem, they never will. But complacency breeds recklessness, and it can also be hard for divers to admit to being uncomfortable with a situation, and to risk losing face by sitting out the dive or insisting on a site more suited to their level of skill. There is no shame in recognising that something is beyond your level of training, in asking for help to develop the skills you need to go further, deeper, stay down for longer, or venture into more extreme environments. Even good divers, who know that they are comfortable in the water, benefit from extending their training. Like newbie rock climbers scaling a cliff, whose focus on reaching the top alive means that they can’t enjoy the view, properly trained divers with adequate skills are able to better channel their inner aquaphiles, letting mastery of the required skills mean that they can take in the view, and enjoy immersing themselves, safely, in the experience of being underwater. SDOP