Tips for Student Divers: Having a Positive Open Water Experience

Are a diver in training about to do your first “real dives” as you anticipate your open water training ?

Perhaps you are a certified diver who knows someone about to do their open water certification dives.  I know we have a lot of new divers in training who read and other on-line sites.  I’d like to share a few suggestions with you to make your experience smoother and more enjoyable.


1. Check all you gear a day or two before the dive, to be sure that you have everything, that everything is working properly and that everything fits properly. Put stuff on, especially rented exposure suits. If anything is too tight, too loose, looks damaged, or doesn’t work, go to your local dive center and get it switched.

2. Before you leave the dive location after the first day of diving, check to make sure you have everything in your dive bag, and that what you have is yours. In big groups, people sometime get the wrong stuff. While it can usually get straightened out the next day, it is a pain and an anxiety maker. Do the same on day two.

3. Be on time. This can be a problem. Being late will stress you and others. Punctual divers are calmer divers. Give yourself plenty of time to get to where you need to be.

4. Don’t schedule stuff for later the same day as your open water dives. You won’t want to rush off, because you may well forget a piece of gear or miss out on meeting new people. You will want to be part of  conversations that would be helpful to you. Getting certified is a big deal, and also involves some physical exertion. Try and schedule yourself so you can be fully focused on the dives, not be rushed, and fully enjoy the experience and the achievement of open water diving.

5. Ask questions. If you have a question, ask your instructor or divemaster. There are no stupid questions. If you want a “private moment,” ask for one. We will accommodate you.

6. Report problems. If you don’t feel well, if a piece of gear doesn’t fit right,
or if  you have some other issue, please tell one of us. We need to know, and we can help.

7. Be patient. Sometime you have to “wait your turn.” Sometimes we have weather delays, or other things that delay a planned schedule. Stay calm, stay relaxed, we will get everything done. We promise.

8. Bring you paperwork ( including photo, written work not yet turned in, etc.) and your log book and a pen. The job isn’t over till the paperwork’s done. Bring everything in your student kit. It’s a great feeling to not only have done your dives successfully, but to have all the paperwork ready to go, your dives logged, and be a totally legitimate certified diver.

9.  Don’t “over think” the diving.  When I hear of student diver issues,  some problems reported are equipment related, and some pertain to conditions- cold water, poor visibility, and others relate to physiological problems, like an ear that won’t clear or neck/back pain. But there is a recurring theme in the reporting, and it is that student divers who are having problems appear often to be “over thinking” the dives. By that I mean you may be focused so much on discomfort, or getting a skill right, that you are stressing out and creating problems that you might not otherwise have. My suggestion: HAVE FUN!” I am not saying to ignore an ear squeeze, or other comfort issue, but I am saying don’t be preoccupied with it to the point of obsession. Also, remember you have done all the skills you are going to do in confined water, and can do them. In fact, many are actually easier to do in the open water dives than in the pool. Don’t over think them and create stress. Relax and enjoy the experience. Whether you are in a quarry in Ohio, or warm seas off the coast of Florida, you should have fun on those certification dives. Look around, enjoy weightlessness, as you pay attention to your instructor. Some of you will have difficult issues to work through, but you will be less likely to have them, and fewer of them, if you relax and enjoy the experience rather than “waiting for something to go wrong.” Your instructor and dive masters are there to help if it does. It probably won’t. So the night before your first open water dives, relax, watch a movie, look at underwater pictures or videos, or read a travel magazine about a destination you are headed to. Be positive in your outlook and you experience is likely to be positive too!

You are about to join one of the coolest clubs that has ever existed- the brother- and sister-hood of certified divers. Have a fun, positive and memorable(in a good way) experience under the water!