To enjoy yourself underwater as a scuba diver you must learn certain diving skills. Here are the 7 biggies, including the two “super techniques” you must master. When you get this right you’ll be the diver that every aquatic adventurer wants as a buddy.
Skill one: Know your gear setup/configuration.
Skill two: Learn how to monitor your nitrogen absorption.
Skill three: How to clear a flooded mask.
Skill four: How to equalize your ears.
Skill five: Learn how to communicate underwater.
And the two skills that mark you as an experienced (and highly developed) diver:
Skill six: Determine your ideal weight.
Skill seven: Control your breathing for minimal air consumption.
When you know your gear, and get familiar with your preferred equipment setup and configuration, you won’t spend most of your dive time searching around for your inflator tube and gauges. You’ll focus your attention on the fish and coral.
When you know your gear you dive safer. you know where to reach for your regulator if it pops out of your mouth, and you know exactly where your backup is if your primary regulator suddenly stops working.
Familiarity with your equipment means you know when maintenance is due, and keeping your maintenance up to date means your gear takes care of you on every dive.
Knowing how much nitrogen your body absorbs on each dive keeps you safe.
Your body’s nitrogen content tells you when can go back into the water, safely, for another dive. Nitrogen buildup dictates how many times in one day you’ll enjoy the underwater sights without hurting yourself.
Too much nitrogen in your body, and you risk death.
On rare occasion a diver loses the scuba mask, at other times less rare a mask leaks, and floods. Knowing how to empty water from the mask is a basic diving skill.
You’ll find the ability to see underwater comes easier when you have an air space between your eyes and the water.
Knowing how to clear your ears saves you pain. As you descend the pressure in the water pushes against the air spaces inside your body, most especially the air cavities in your ears.
When that pressure push builds you feel pain. To keep that push from happening divers add air to the cavities to make the pressure inside equal to the pressure outside. Failure to equalize the ears threatens loss of hearing.
Learn how to communicate underwater so you can “talk” to your dive buddy. Obviously you can’t physically speak during a normal scuba diving experience.
Divers need a way to communicate so they know where their partner wants to go next. “Talking” underwater helps divers to point out some interesting feature to their partner. It lets them tell their dive buddy they need help in the case of an emergency.
The diving community created a series of hand signals to let divers “talk” underwater. With signals each diver knows what’s going on with their diving partners.
Knowing how much weight is ideal for your personal diving configuration is a “must master” skill. When you optimize your weight you have excellent buoyancy control.
Skilled buoyancy control keeps you from bouncing up and down in the water. It minimizes risking a too fast ascent as you drift upward. And it keeps you from damaging coral or stirring up the muck as you slam into the bottom on a downward plunge.
A diver who shows skill at controlling buoyancy gets respect from every other diver.
One important thing you learn in your basic scuba certification course is never stop breathing when you’re underwater. You also learn what to do if you run out of air during a dive.
But this skill requires more mastery to become a highly skilled diver because you must learn to control your breathing to make your air last.
When you control your breathing so that you make your air last for longer periods you get to stay underwater for longer dives. Isn’t that why you’re there, to enjoy the aquatic life?
When a diver exhibits expertise at breathing control partners aren’t frustrated because their buddy runs out of air halfway through the time that a dive should last. When that happens the partner feels disappointed because he has to end the dive early, and go back to the surface.
Practice these scuba diving skills, and become an expert with the two “must master” techniques, and you’ll find that other divers want to be just like you.