View Full Version : Hitting the lake before finishing basic skills?

11-07-2008, 13:43
My fiance has tried twice to get her OW C Card. She does fine with gearing up and getting in the water, breathing under water and playing with the frisbee and torpedo,etc. Her problem comes when it's time to do a reg recovery or mack clearing; she gets flustered and then panics and heads for the surface. She seems to want to do this but is giving up after each one day attempt. I was wondering what everyone thought of her going to a controlled environment like Clear Springs with an instructor or dive master to experience a bit more of the enjoyment of diving than a pool offers as a way of encouragement so she gives it another try.

11-07-2008, 13:49
I think a pool is the appropriate controlled environment. Have her kneel in the shallow end and do it over and over until it's easy and boring.

If she simulates the "hard part", it can help get her used to it. Have her get in the pool with no mask, then put the mask on and stand up. If she gets used to having a mask full of water, clearing it isn't a big deal.

Have her get underwater with no reg, then while she's down there, clear and breathe from a reg. Once she's done that a few times, THEN try a reg recovery drill.

11-07-2008, 14:12
I agree, unless you lake offers perfect visibility, shallow (5') depths for practice, and no silt problems whatsoever, the reduced visibility is only going to make things more difficult for her. The ease and familiarity of a non-threatening pool environment is the right place for a new diver to practice basic skills that are causing panic issues.

Don Wray
11-07-2008, 14:34
Why would the skills be easier? She is not comfortable doing the skills required for certification. More work is needed period.

11-07-2008, 14:46
Stay in the pool!!! It took my wife 2 nights at 4 hours each in the pool clearing her mask over and over and over again till she was completely comfortable. It was a pain, but why chance it? It won't only make her diving much more relaxing, but it will make yours that much more relaxing also not having to worry.

11-07-2008, 15:24
If she can not accomplish these skills in a pool then she will in all likelihood have more trouble in CSSP. These are very basic skills that a diver of any level needs to be comfortable with.....stick to the pool and try another Instrc./DM.

11-07-2008, 15:30
ya, practice in the pool...I'd say have her practice breathing through a reg without a mask in shallow water, to get comfortable with that sensation. and maybe practice removing and purging a reg in shallow water, then move on to mask floods, mask removal, and reg recovery then trying them in deeper water....baby steps

11-07-2008, 15:33
All good advice. I see students get into trouble when they try to rush it. By separating the exercise into steps, doing them one at a time, taking a few breaths in between each one, they slow down enough to get over the anxiety.

She should be able to get used to sitting in the water with her eyes closed and breathing without a mask, like it was suggested above.

11-07-2008, 15:43
I don't see the problem with having an instructor take her out for a bit of "fun diving" like a discover scuba dive, but I certainly wouldn't expect that to help her in any way get over mask clears or reg recovery...I agree with everyone else here that the key to passing these skills is to practice in the shallow end of the pool (where you can just stand up anytime you want).

11-07-2008, 17:54
Not to jump on the bandwagon, but - What they said. Practice and repetition are they keys and the place to do work on it/them is in the pool where distractions are minimal.

11-10-2008, 08:25
I wasn't really looking to have her do any training at the lake, just get a little time looking at the fish while by one of the platforms to see if she'll really enjoy it enough to press past her anxiety.

No Misses
11-10-2008, 08:59
Practice in the pool until it is not stressful. There is enough stress for new divers in open water. Don't add to this by not being proficient in the controlled environment (pool) drills.

Go order some good UW videos to watch. This will give even the most skittish diver the desire to go down there and see some of these wonderful sights for themselves.

Blue Planet (documentary)
Into the Blue (fiction – Bahamas Treasure Hunting; Paul Walker & Jessica Alba)
The Deep (fiction – Bermuda Treasure Hunting; Jacqueline Bisset in a wet T-shirt; need I say more?)
Coral Reef Adventure (Shot for iMAX, I have not seen this. But, the preview looks good. http://www.scuba-diving-heaven.com/wonderful-scuba-diving-movie.html (http://www.scuba-diving-heaven.com/favicon.ico)
Any National Geographic or Jacques Cousteau video should do it.

I am sure that others will have some favorite video suggestions.

Back on target – The basic skills are crucial and should be practiced by even “seasoned” divers. I do some extreme diving and have found myself in near silt out conditions without a mask and with the reg knocked out of my mouth. Most divers will never get into a situation like this. But, it is always better to be prepared for the worst.

11-10-2008, 09:36
To the OP: What is your wife's comfort level in the water to begin with? Is she comfortable swimming above and underwater? If she is comfortable swimming underwater - she should be comfortable with the idea of water against her face, similar to a mask flood.

Here are some techniques I have heard of for mask issues:

have her put her mask on and off in the shower - standing under the water - face into the spray. By turning her head she can clear, and the flooding is controlled.

That may prepare her more for the pool work.

11-10-2008, 09:52
Does she want to continue on and try to work on the issue? If so use a pool and have her practice there.

11-10-2008, 10:33
To the OP: What is your wife's comfort level in the water to begin with? Is she comfortable swimming above and underwater? If she is comfortable swimming underwater - she should be comfortable with the idea of water against her face, similar to a mask flood.

Here are some techniques I have heard of for mask issues:

have her put her mask on and off in the shower - standing under the water - face into the spray. By turning her head she can clear, and the flooding is controlled.

That may prepare her more for the pool work.

Does she want to continue on and try to work on the issue? If so use a pool and have her practice there.

I haven't been with her at the OW classes but I know she is comfortable swimming underwater without scuba gear and she tells me she is comfortable doing the normal pool excersizes (entries, tossing toys around, etc). It is the emergency skills that freak her out. The reason I believe her when she says she is still interested is that she hasn't let me post her gear for sale (a couple of wetsuits and pink personal gear).

11-10-2008, 16:42
I am feeling her pain. I hated the pool for my first few sessions, but soldiered through because I knew it would get more interesting. I noticed that no-one asked "why" she gets stressed with those skills. In my case, my first instructor did not explain them well and I was having a lot of trouble. Baby steps are good, but knowing what the actual problem is helps.
Some things seem like a no brainer to an instructor, but to a new student, the smallest thing can be a stressor. For instance, I was frustrated with water rushing up my nose when doing the mask flood/clear. It took my second instructor to say "flood it from the top, tip your head forward to keep it out of your nose and start exhaling as you tip your head back. Then, tip your head forward again before you run out of breath and need to do it again." Seems like it wouldn't even need to be said, but it helped immensely and I now have no problem with that skill.

I did my open waters in a quarry that was cold and dark and it was cold and rainy when we got out, but it was a whole lot more fun than the pool. And if I liked that, I knew I was going to like the rest of the world.

Good luck. I hope she continues because it's so worth it.

11-10-2008, 23:33
STAY IN THE POOL! Have her practice in the bath tub too. Very controlled there. have her lay on her belly and just submerge her face (with mask and snorkle on) Flood mask, clear mask... then (without mask strap on) flood mask and have it fall off... retireve clear.. repeat. Sounds sillly, but it worked for me! lol Though my biggest thing was getting water into the sinus cavitites... Also if you have access to a pool for swimming... have her snorkel with no mask on in the pool.

Something else I would like to comment on... You said she painics and goes to the surface... This is a normal reaction... but we should not get into the mindset of going to the surface when there is trouble.. might be ok in 5-10 ft of water... but could be serious at depth. Remember- stop breath think react

Good luck to her!

Jack Hammer
11-10-2008, 23:42
Have her relax and close her eyes, then while exhaling lightly through her nose, remove the mask and put it back on, face first (worry about the strap last) while exhaling through her nose slightly harder to clear it. Do this in 4' of water while she is kneeling or squatting so she can stand up. For the reg recovery, have her practice recovering her reg while continually breathing off the octo (have her breath off the octo and recover the primary so she knows exactly where the primary is and is confident it will be the same as what she practiced). When she finds the reg, replace the octo in her mouth with it as if the octo wasn't there. Once comfortable and confident, have her try it for real.

I've had my mask flood completely twice, once from crap in the water getting caught in it during a clearing and it flooding as fast as I could clear. I finally had to do a full removal and replace. Another time I had my mask kicked and it instantly flooded as my regulator simultaneously got knocked from my mouth by another divers fin. Both were enexpected and unenjoyable moments, yet quickly and easily resolved by what I learned in those first class sessions in a pool.

There is a reason those two skills are considered some of the most basic and neccessary skills for any diver to learn before getting certified. Even under the supervision of a DM, there is a possibility of her having problems and being unable to deal with them. If she's unable to complete these most basic skills, when she dives she'll be ill equipped to handle something as simple as a bad mask day and it could escalate it to a real problem.


11-11-2008, 01:08
it took me a long time to get over my anxiety and jumping in the lake was not the solution for me, it took me twice to finish my open water. Now I have my AOW and will be working on other specialties before my rescue diver in the fall. It just takes time, I had to attach myself to a ladder in the deep end so I wouldn't float off with just a mask and snorkel, I practiced again and again until I was comfortable and now I could probably do a whole dive without a mask on as long as its not freezing.

11-11-2008, 08:05
Lot's of good advice here. I'm not sure why she reacts the way she does, I have not been with her at any of the classes. She'd tried the first time in a group class and then a second time one on one with an instructor. Now I think she's uncomfortable taking up an instructors time just for her. Perhaps I can find a place to work with her myself in a shallow pool with just mask and snorkel. I'm just AOW working on master diver so I don't want to try to actually teach her, just be there while she practices mask clearing. I'm not even sure I'd want to work with her doing reg recovery on my own.

11-11-2008, 08:59
I just remembered something from my discovery dive. When my instructor performed my discovery dive, he ran me through a few of the skills to witness my comfort level before I invested the money is classes.

Regarding the reg recovery: he clearly demonstrated the skill both on water and in the water. I was feeling so full of myself underwater on that training platform, that I plucked my reg out of my threw it away and then in one fail swoop recovered it.

here's the funny part of the story. I opened my mouth WIDE to take that dang mouthpiece in and flooded my mouth with lake water. I apparently sat there staring at my instructor with wide eyes as I tried to figure out how to get the water out of my mouth so the mouthpiece would fit. He still laughs at my saucer eyes that day.

It's the little things like that I think we forget to tell people. He never thought to tell me to put my tongue up behind my teeth to prevent the rushing of water - and sorry to admit, I didn't do the quantum physics myself.

We take a lot of things for granted and forget about even doing them. Walk through the skills yourself again, and really isolate your own natural habits. Exhaling during the mask flood. The other good idea was to fill from the top.

If she is uncomfortable with her eyes open underwater (I wear contacts) have someone tap her on her head when her mask is cleared.

The other thing I thought of, during these skills (mask flooding/reg recovery), my instructor had a firm grip on my BC. While my eyes were closed as I flooded my mask I could FEEL him and I knew he was there to protect me if I screwed up. When I sat there staring at him with a mouth full of water, he had a hold on me and through eye contact put me back into control (insert mouthpiece blow out HARD).

Good posting by another member regarding isolating what makes her uncomfortable.

Good luck to her.

11-12-2008, 12:40
Miracle Swimming Institute | Adult Swimming Lessons, Conquer Fear of Water with Our Beginning Swimming Lessons | Afraid in Water! (http://www.conquerfear.com/)

This is a swimming course, but the instructor also assists "swimmers" who are having trouble with scuba skills.

11-12-2008, 16:08
Someone may have suggested something like this already, but I would just see that she gets very comfortable being in the pool, on scuba, without a mask.

The OW instructor I took from began our scuba training without masks on. After our first couple dips in the pool without masks, he told us we had just accomplished the most difficult part of OW training. We continued to constantly practice taking off masks, dropping the mask and reg clearing without masks on.

As far as the lake, I think that would probably make life pretty difficult. Unless there's just not a good pool nearby, lake would add further disorientation to an already disorienting situation.

11-12-2008, 18:42
I was talking to a friend one thing that seems to work great is to get into a pool with her and be right in front of her off the bottom of the pool and blind fold yourself and throw the reg and show her how to retrieve it. After you do it once go to the surface and explain her again how the reg always ends up in the same place. Then go down and demonstrate again and then have her try. If that doesn't work have her use her Octo and throw her 2nd stage and have her practicing while she has her octo in until she feels that she is ready.