An experienced diver can pick up bad habits as easy as a new diver, in fact, bad habits picked up early are hard to change. Even without knowing their background you can pick out the exceptional divers while still out of the water. Often you can also tell which “experienced” divers might be a concern.
Experience in itself does not make a great diver
Many years ago when I was still a fairly new diver, we were on a dive boat going out to a shipwreck for a penetration dive.
There was a visiting “divemaster” who kept bragging about all the dives he had done, always very loud, even gave “advice” while the dive leader was giving the dive and safety briefing.
The wreck was a freighter laying on its side. The dive plan was simple, we enter the wreck at the forward cargo hold, follow a companionway back to one portion of the engine room, then enter another room that had an exit to the deck.
We enter the companionway with the dive leader in front, followed by my dive buddy, myself, the girlfriend of the visiting divemaster, the visiting divemaster and last was our safety diver also a divemaster.
All went well until we entered the engine room. We enter the engine room and spread out. However, when the visiting divemaster entered he did some giant kicks to reach his girlfriend and in the process silted out the room and knocked my regulator and face mask off.
I will leave some details out and just say we had to abort the dive and left the engine room going directly outside the ship.
Here are 5 habits of exceptional divers
Experienced divers take care of their scuba equipment. The exceptional diver takes special care of their equipment. They realize that beyond the money invested, the equipment can be a contributing factor to a fatal accident.
Many dive centers in resort areas will offer “full” service and set up your tanks for you. In your open water training, the setup and breakdown of your equipment was a fundamental task.
You did it until you could set up the equipment yourself, it became a remembered task. The exceptional diver will refuse having the staff do the setup and set up their kit themselves at least for the first dive of the day.
They have established their system of assembling and inspecting their gear. To them it is not getting ready for another dive, it the first safety check for a day’s diving.
You should also do the set up yourself especially if you are using rental scuba gear. It not only allows you to examine the serviceability of the equipment but to see what is different from your normal experience. Whether your gear or rental establish your procedure and do it for each dive.
Like the cavalry soldier of old whose horse came first after a day’s patrol, to the exceptional diver the equipment comes first after a dive.
He/she will inspect the regulator for damage while cleaning it. The BCD will be rinsed inside and out and inflated to ensure it will hold pressure.
After all the primary gear is inspected and the wetsuits are soaking, then it’s time to relax and share the highlights of the dive.
1. Buoyancy control is second nature.
While most dive leaders will dive one or two pounds overweight in case they need to give some weights to another diver, the exceptional diver will end the dive neutrally balanced. However, buoyancy control goes beyond being neutrally balanced, it includes being trimmed.
When a pilot flies a plane, and when they end their climb they adjust the plane’s trim to maintain being level. In a similar manner, a diver needs to adjust their weights so that they can remain level.
When you add too much weight below the waist, the diver will want to swim up, to much above, and the divers head is lower.
You might see a diver that almost looks like they are standing up while diving. Such a diver, will need a great deal more energy to go forward using more air, additionally they will often cause damage to the surrounding corals.
2.They are environmental conscious both above and below the water.
Having experienced the underwater world and often seeing first hand the effects of pollution and mankind’s interference, the exceptional scuba diver becomes more environmentally conscious in their daily lives and while diving.
They might not become tree-huggers or protect marine parks or organize an underwater clean up every weekend but they will make the effort to protect the environment. While diving, they will stay a reasonable distance from coral and other fragile environments and will not harass marine life.
3. They stay well within the limits of their training and experience.
The exceptional diver, understands their limits and do not exceed them. They know that with experience the limits will change and over time they can safely do dives that may not of been safe before.
The diver will also accept that certain types of diving environments, such as deep diving, caves and wreck penetration requires additional training and should not be tried without.
They fully believe that “Any diver can cancel any dive at any time for any reason”. This includes believing the dive is beyond the ability of their dive buddy.
Planning a scuba trip? Then you should download the ultimate scuba dive checklist just like 5000+ other divers already so you will not forget to bring anything.## 4. They keep their basic skill sharp.
Exceptional divers keep their skills sharp. They might work a basic skill into a dive just for practice. Remove your mask and put it on, recover a regulator.
When was the last dive you used your octopus? Practice changing over from your primary regulator to the octopus and use it for a few minutes. It is much better to use it when it is not in an emergency, then to get in a situation where you need it and find out it is not work properly.
Check out this diver who has exceptional buoyancy skills
5. They also keep abreast of changes in the industry.
They won’t run out and buy the newest gadgets necessarily, but they will keep up with trends. Not everyone and not every exceptional diver can dive every day. So if you are away from diving for a little while start off with a simple dive and run through your basic skills with your dive buddy.
If you are an inexperienced diver and have not been diving in two or three months, talk to the dive leader about a check out dive. Some resorts require a check out dive one of all divers, others just for inexperienced divers.
When you do a checkout dive, a dive leader will be your dive buddy and they will evaluate your underwater performance, in some cases they will have you perform some basic skills.
If you have been away for six months or more, based on your experience, you might want to consider taking a refresher course.
Excluding pre-existing medical conditions, the number one cause of death in scuba diving is panic. In almost every case, panic was a significant factor.
A recent survey by DAN showed that over 90% of divers with more than five years diving experience has had some sort of panic attack underwater. In 43% of the cases, there was no known trigger. The difference is that the experience divers were able to rely on their skills until they got the panic under control.
If you balance out the seriousness of diving with the pleasure, keep the traits above in mind and dive frequently, you may also become an exceptional diver.
Are you an exceptional diver or “just” a good one?
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Planning a scuba trip? Then you should download the ultimate scuba dive checklist just like 5000+ other divers already so you will not forget to bring anything.
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This article is published by The Scuba Page, the online magazine for Scuba Dive lovers around the world. The Scuba Page is part of RUSHKULT : the online booking platform for adventure sports. Visit the RUSHKULT platform to book your next Scuba Dive training, guided trip and accommodation.