Confined water dive experience, from a freaked out newbie

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Skittl1321

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I did my first confined water dives today. (I think these were dives 1 and 2 combined. We didn't get out of the water.)
I had what I considered a very major freakout, hyperventilating refusing to descend, but my instructor was very good and talked me through it. In the end, I don't feel that I did the horizontal CESA or was able to disconnect my low pressure inflator hose, so I'm wondering if I get checked off on those or not when I get my book back.

This is really long, so I'm not sure anyone is going to read it. However, preparing for the class- I was really looking for an account of what the confinded water dives were like, so this is mine, maybe it will help someone searching later. Unfortunately SCUBA board doesn't really let you break up a post into multiple posts, since it combines them. If I missed describing major skills, most likely that is due to my failing memory and not crappy instruction:

We have an in-joke in my family, after my Mom was absolutely hysterical (not funny, flipping out) on a carnival ride, and she came off and said "I think I did rather well" (she did not). At the end of the day in the pool session, I told Kevin "I think I did rather well". Um, in fairness, I probably did better than my Mom did on that ride, but it wasn't a pretty day for me.

I had a few minor freak outs and one big freak out. I had to be taken aside for remedial instruction. I'm up at 2:30 today because I can't sleep since I'm worried about the pool dives tomorrow. (Though I at least got some sleep, last night, I got almost none.) I have a sore throat and am in a lot of pain from the breathing dry air and coughing.

I'm sure I'll leave a few things out, but here's what we did:
-Put together gear. I can do this okay. Problem is, I absolutely cannot lift the air tank, which is kind of an integral part of the gear. That might be a problem, though my husband can probably help me quite a bit. I mean, I'm never going to dive without him.

- Wear a wetsuit. First- I never saw myself in it, so I have no idea how unflattering it was, but man, I am going to need custom made. Surprisingly, the one I had the knee pads actually hit my knees, but the crotch was insanely baggy, and the arms were so long it was like wearing an elphant skin. I probably could have had 8" longer arms and still fit this thing, I think when you have baggy folds you lose some of the insulating properties! That said- this was very cool. It was like being a trainer at sea world.

- Get in the water, breathe underwater: Okay, I am just very tentative every time I have to go underwater. It's like I don't trust the regulator will work. It does. I also find that I tip over insanely and my feet try to fly above my head. The instructor puts more weights on me, but I'm not sure that is a real world solution.

- Take regulator out of mouth, put it back in. Surprisingly- I did this fine. Surprisingly, because later it doesn't go well. We did this using the purge button and blowing it out with our mouth. I do fine on both, and we are told to start blowing out with our mouth because it is easier. Later in the class, I always use the purge button, because this is a major source of freak outs.

- Show two different ways of recovering the regulator when it is out of your mouth. This is where things start going badly for me. I can "recover" the regulator with my hand, but by the time I am able to get it into my mouth and attempt to purge it, I've usually run out of bubbles to blow out ("never stop breathing") and take on a mouthful of water. I stand up a number of times (we are on the shallow end) and can't do this. The instructor tells me to just move on, we'll try again later.

- Signal buddy out of air, take their back-up (octo) and breathe off of it. Same problem with the previous one, by the time I get it in my mouth, I'm having mouthfuls of water and freaking out. This is when I get told I have to go work one on one with an instructor, Kevin, my buddy, gets relegated to remedial instruction with me.

So over in remedial instruction, I freak out a number of times. I just cannot get the damn octo in my mouth and breathing before I take on so much water (up my nose too) that I freak out. A few times I stand up out of water with both the instructor and Kevin going "what the hell, you had it, why aren't you underwater breathing?" but it's just like I can't fit the thing in my mouth, and even when I do, and purge it, I still can't breathe. Finally, I do it, but when the instructor signals okay (they do that a lot! Okay is the only option, things are okay or things are going to hell in a handbasket- there is no signal for "no, not really, but don't worry, I'm not dying) it takes me like 5 breathes before I can signal okay back, because I'm just not confident in my breathe.

So then we do the hose recovery, and I do it the first way, and he signals OK, and to go up, and I signal back the 2nd way, so we do that first. That was my mini moment of being proud of myself, because I could have stood up, which would have been kind of nice.

During my remedial instruction, the class had moved on ahead of us. They had practiced clearing their mask, breathing underwater without their masks, and taking their mask and putting it back on underwater. These are skills that I think a few people actually had to do a few times, because it took them quite awhile. I, however, actually did really well here. The reason- I think my mask may be a tad too big (we might get a new one), and I had been exhaling through my nose a number of times, so I can clear my mask without a problem, both partial and full flood. It was hard for me to get underwater without my nose covered, but once the instructor told me I could hold my nose, I could get underwater, stop holding my nose and did fine. In theory, if my mask is kicked off underwater, I'm not sure how it will go. But I was able to take it off and put it back on okay. I want to get a neoprene strap for my mask, as the plastic one was tearing my hair to shreds.

I think this is the point where we put our fins on and then had to swim on the surface (with BCD inflated- so like a life vest) with our snorkel. This was SO HARD. You tip over while you try to swim. We also had to take the snorkel out of our mouth, and put the regulator in, which I did fine, and then put the snorkel back in, which I did not. No matter how many times I blew air to clear it (and I have a purge valve on it) I couldn't get a strong breathe. Being at the surface though, was it really cheating to stick my head out of water and breathe?

Oh wait, I remember the thing I forgot from shallow water- disconnect the BCD hose. I don't know what they'll write on this skill. With a TON of effort I did it above water, after the instructor did it first on my hose (does that make it easier). I never could underwater, and even later when we were out of the water and the gear was off, I was only able to do it once someone else did, which I think took some of the pressure off it. To be honest- if my BCD breaks and the button sticks, I think I'm screwed. It took me so long, even if I'm able to do it- and my hands just may not be strong enough, partially because I'm weak, and partially because my nerve damage is mostly in my fingers, it takes me so long, I'll be on the surface before I'm able to. Being on the surface is what we are trying to prevent.

So then we moved onto the deep end. After a number of minor panic attacks (mostly during 'remedial' time- where I was starting to feel a lot of pressure about the fact that I couldn't get it, and that I was disappointing Kevin (he never voiced this, but I'm sure it was true) and that I was getting so far behind the class), deep water is where I had my major panic attack.

First, we swim there underwater practicing equalizing our ears. My ears don't hurt, but I don't feel that nice pop I do when I do the movements we practice above water. I guess if they don't hurt, I'm okay. They we ascend, and this is freakout number one: I cannot kick hard enough to get up. I know if I inflate my BCD, I fail the class- so I don't. But I can't get up. I start kind of 'screaming' underwater, but at this point, it's moot, as no one is still underwater and you can't hear much anyway. Then I realize I have plenty of air, calm down a bit, but I'm still stuck underwater. An instructor kind of pushes me up. I think this is the major factor in why I am so scared for the next thing- I know if I want to get out of the water, I am over-weighted, and cannot. I am stuck underwater.

So here we are told they are going to turn our tank off so we can feel what out of air feels like. Then turn it back on. Then, (with the tank on this time), we are going to tell our buddy we are out of air, grab their octo and breathe on it, just like we did in shallow water. This is where I start telling Kevin I can't do it. He, in a somewhat annoyed voice, tells me I'm fine. The class descends. I don't.

The instructor who helped me before comes over and I tell him I'm not ready for this. He told me once I had the confidence I did these things fine in the shallow water. I'm not buying it. I did them once. Let me tell you a story:

In driver's ed, we had to get a 4.0 before we could pass a skill. The first time I went over 40 mph I cried, I got a 1.0, and had to do it again. It took me like 10 tries before I fully passed highway driving. I am now a damn good highway driver. On the other hand, I parallel parked absolutely perfect the first time I tried. I got a 4.0, we moved on. I have NEVER successfully parallel parked again. Never. Even with someone in the car explaining to me how to do it. I didn't get sufficient practice, and doing something once does NOT show mastery. That's what I felt about the shallow water skills. I had in no way mastered them. I did them once. And now they wanted me to do them somewhere I can't stand up.

To his credit, the instructor is incredibly patient. He tells me if I "thumbs up" he can have me on the surface in half a second. Still, I'm hyperventilating, literally. In a sport of long, slow, shallow breathes, I am on the surface in need of a bag to breathe into. (I don't actually get one, I'm able to calm my breathing after a few minutes, take a few deep breaths and tell them I'll try.) He promises me, that if I thumb the dive, I will be on the surface right away.

So we go down, the tank turn off exercise goes well. I forget to look at my pressure gauge (SPG), but it is handed to me, and I see it go down to zero. As soon as I see that I want to signal for him to turn it back on, but I am still breathing, so I realize I shouldn't yet. I wait until breathing gets hard, and then signal. That went okay.

Then it comes time to do the octo exercise. (Remember, my regulator is fully functioning at this point). I signal to Kevin. I grab his octo, I take 3 deep breathes (um, that won't be something I can do if I'm really out), I take my reg out, and try to get his in. I press the purge and I still have water in my mouth, I thumb, and true to his word, the instructor lifts me up to the surface, very quickly. He asks me what went wrong, I had it. I did, but again, I couldn't breathe on it.

We go back down again, and this time I think I do it with one try (I don't remember for sure). But again, he and Kevin signal OK? to me when it is in my mouth, but it takes me a good 3 breaths before I can say OK back. I just don't trust that I'm breathing.

So next, I think, we did what is called "fin pivot". This is supposed to be an exercise in neutral buoyancy. I totally don't understand what we were supposed to do here. All I know is I just wiped out a thousand years of coral growth. Hurricanes have nothing on the level of destruction my buoyancy causes.

Then came our CESA. This is a Controlled Emergency Swimming Ascent. So you do NOT use the inflator on your BCD- you swim to the surface. The pool is too shallow for this, so we swim horizontally. You have to swim 30 feet while exhaling. If the instructor sees you inhale, you don't pass this. While waiting for my turn, I think about exhaling as slow as possible (i'm a fast breather, even relaxed). I practice the long slow a-hhhh sound. Then he signals for me to go. I take my last breath (our regulators are still on) and well crap. I'm standing and stuck. I can barely even start swimming before I run out of air. I take 2 really small breaths over the course of the 30 feet, but decide it is best to keep going, to at least practice swimming. I get to the end and stand up and tell the instructor "well, I just drowned twice" and he says "what are you talking about? You did it!" Um, no I didn't? I took breaths. Apparently, they were so small, it didn't count? I know on a real CESA, you get more exhale power as you go up, and sometimes you get more air in your tank. Maybe I'll be okay? I mentioned this to the other instructor, and he told me "if he says you did it, you're fine", so I don't feel like I cheated. But Kevin and I plan to go to the pool and (without scuba on) practice me swimming while exhaling. Maybe more cardio too.

At some point we also practiced manually inflating our BCDs (while above water), and this was no problem.

The final thing we did was breathe off a free flowing (purging) regulator. This took me three tries, and I wasn't able to breathe well (Kevin said it was 'easy') but three small breathes before I started choking on water. But enough to probably be able to switch to his alternate, and I know it is possible. The third try, the instructor actually lightly held my head down in the water (no resistance if I pushed up, but just to encourage me to not give up right away) which got a great laugh from the class.

I think that is everything, except we also practiced taking our fins off while holding a ladder and getting out of the water. We were told since our tanks would be almost empty, they would be much lighter. Well maybe a bit, but holy crap- those suckers weigh alot out of water!

So all in all- lots of little panic, 1 major panic attack, and two skills that I don't think I did.

But here is my final problem- I now feel like I have strep throat. My throat is so dry and scratchy. I had a lot of mucus in my throat during the diving, and kept coughing, a lot, underwater. I just couldn't swallow to clear it where I felt I could breathe well. We were probably never underwater for more than 15 minutes, if even that. How do people stay under for an hour? Kevin says his throat doesn't hurt at all, so I think it is from all the coughing while breathing such dry air.

And I'm awake at 3:00 in the morning typing this because I am really worried about the water work today. I'm pretty certain we have to do all the mask off skills in the deep water. And while I did them fine in the shallow water, again, doing something once doesn't mean I'm ready to do it without a safety net of being able to stand up.

I'm really worried that even if I can get out of this pool session, I'm not ready for open water check out. And even if I can pass that- I'm not ready for real life without an instructor. I feel so bad that I'm not good at this, because I really want to be able to do something with Kevin that he'll really enjoy. And to be honest, except for all the emergency scenarios, I'm way better at this than snorkeling. I suck at snorkeling.

The only thing I take small solace in, is the instructor told Kevin my freak outs were not even close to the worse he's seen. Since I was full on hyperventilating, wow. Kevin says the guy told him he doesn't tell people who freak out that- likely because it doesn't help them and it kind of trivializes how they're feeling, but it would have kind of made me feel better to hear "I know you are feeling like you aren't doing well at this, but this is somewhat normal to freak out like this." Although I still wish this was a little more time to master a skill, rather than just demonstrate it.

ETA: If anyone else reads this 1)wow, impressed you made it this far through my essay and 2) I updated about page the second day of confined water on the next page. It went much better.
 
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Rescue 312

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Hi Skittl, what you described was exactly like a new diver on my OW course.

I am a new diver also, so new that I was only certified about 3 weeks ago, and my PADI card hasn't arrived yet. personally, and in my opinion, you will be a great diver, you just need to relax and have faith in yourself, your instructor and your equipment.

While not dive related, I am a senior firefighter with a brigade, I recently had one of our newest firefighters have his first large fire, this was a compartment fire, so an enclosed space effectively.. he panicked in much the same way you did, but in a fire etc..

I calmed him down, afterwards we did a debrief and recently have been doing further training to make him feel better, dont feel afraid to ask your instructor if he is happy to give you some more pool lessons to bring up your confidence.

As I said before, you will be a great diver, like firefighters, some just need a little more time at the start to find their feet.

Dave
 

Steve_C

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Others will make some comments but I will make a few observations.

I'm sure I'll leave a few things out, but here's what we did:
-Put together gear. I can do this okay. Problem is, I absolutely cannot lift the air tank, which is kind of an integral part of the gear. That might be a problem, though my husband can probably help me quite a bit. I mean, I'm never going to dive without him.

Many women once they get comfortable in the water use less air than men. Some dive smaller tanks. If you are on a boat and request assistance you can usually get it. Just remember to give a good tip. I have a bad rotator cuff which limits shoulder mobility and crew often helps me a bit get into BCD.

- Wear a wetsuit. First-

Sounds like wrong size wetsuit. I wear a LS. Which is large size for short folks. Rergular L is too long in legs and arms.

there is no signal for "no, not really, but don't worry, I'm not dying)

Yes, there is. Go over it with your instructor first thing. It is a very important signal. Many divers especially early in a dive will need to adjust something, or attach a camera, or clear their ears more, or dial in their buoyancy. It is important that they do so before continuing (or thumbing a dive)

So then we do the hose recovery, and I do it the first way, and he signals OK, and to go up, and I signal back the 2nd way, so we do that first. That was my mini moment of being proud of myself, because I could have stood up, which would have been kind of nice.

I, however, actually did really well here. The reason-

Good

I think my mask may be a tad too big

Mask issues need to be resolved. Better mask is a great idea.


and then put the snorkel back in, which I did not. No matter how many times I blew air to clear it (and I have a purge valve on it) I couldn't get a strong breathe. Being at the surface though, was it really cheating to stick my head out of water and breathe?

I have a couple different snorkels. One to purge I have to cover the end to force air and water out the bottom. Other has some sort of side vents near the top and to really empty it the best thing to do is hold it out of the water and put in my mouth then. Its your instructors call but you only switch to snorkel at the surface. Having my head out of water and dumping water is what I do in actual diving.

They we ascend, and this is freakout number one: I cannot kick hard enough to get up. I know if I inflate my BCD, I fail the class- so I don't. But I can't get up. I start kind of 'screaming' underwater, but at this point, it's moot, as no one is still underwater and you can't hear much anyway. Then I realize I have plenty of air, calm down a bit, but I'm still stuck underwater. An instructor kind of pushes me up. I think this is the major factor in why I am so scared for the next thing- I know if I want to get out of the water, I am over-weighted, and cannot. I am stuck underwater.

A lot of these skills are, I think, actually easier in a little deeper water. If you are only slightly over weighted (or even better correctly weighted), then you have some air in your BCD. If you can swim horizontal you can swim upward. As soon as you go up a bit the air in the BCD expands. Are you saying that if you are swimming horizontal and then start to swim up that you cannot go up?

So next, I think, we did what is called "fin pivot". This is supposed to be an exercise in neutral buoyancy. I totally don't understand what we were supposed to do here.

An inert diver is inherently unstable in the water. It is physics. So the idea is to control your self by breathing rather than swimming or using your hands or treading water, etc. First you have to be neutral in the water. That may require adding or removing air. Then you act before you need to. There is a delay before your actions take affect.
You start to inhale as you start to lower. You exhale as you start to go up. If you wait until you have gone down a bit it is too late same with going up. A slow steady inhale/exhale as soon as you change direction works better.

Swimming CESA You have to swim 30 feet while exhaling.

A swimming CESA is much harder than a real CESA. In a swimming CESA you have one lungful of air and you are doing all the work. If you are overweighted you also have to work against gravity to keep off the bottom.

In an actual CESA assuming you are starting from at 30 ft, you actually have two lungfuls of air since the air expands as you go up. Also any air in your BCD will expand so you will actually get some lift as you go up.

I think it is from all the coughing while breathing such dry air.

Coughing will irritate the throat.

And I'm awake at 3:00 in the morning typing this because I am really worried about the water work today. I'm pretty certain we have to do all Although I still wish this was a little more time to master a skill, rather than just demonstrate it.

That is an option. You can always request some extra instruction or extra training. It will cost a bit more but proceeding at a rate that gives you more confidence may be helpful.

Good luck.
 

Skittl1321

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Thanks so much for the encouraging comments!

Sounds like wrong size wetsuit. I wear a LS. Which is large size for short folks. Rergular L is too long in legs and arms.


Yes, there is. Go over it with your instructor first thing. It is a very important signal.

Definetly a wrong size wetsuit- they just eyeball us and throw one in the bag. However, I'm only 5'0 so short even for a woman, and sadly not 'junior' size thin anymore. (The 14 year old girl in the class was quite a bit taller than me.) Hopefully the 7mm we check out in will have better fit, since the quarry is cold (we wear hoods- which I've ask for one to try today, since I have enough freak out problems!) but it was okay for the pool.

Thanks for information about the signal. We learned OK, and then the 'so-so' hand sign (at least that's how I use it in real life) means "trouble". I'll have to find out what is in between the two.
 

spectrum

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Skittle1321,

Wow, what an essay!

I am gathering form some of your details that you are of small build. You are already onto the the wetsuit solution. Perhaps custom or at least a smaller size that was not in the rental/training rack. Absolutely 100% solvable.

Heavy gear, I suppose so. As a small woman you may find you can get by with smaller cylinders once your breathing settles down. Also your weighting may have been aggressive and shaving a few pounds there won't hurt. Most important, this is like a dance and once you know the moves you can surprise yourself. In the end if you need some help with heavy lifting this is not a show stopper.

Inflater hose... rental gear is notorious for having gnarly connectors. A little cleaning can make them much work more freely working. When it's time to buy your gear they come with different ends and some give a better grip and more leverage. Also some inflaters are really in the way where others let you get a good grip on the connector. Finally there is an accessory from DSS that makes the little slider into a big rubbery ring that you can even work with heavy gloves. So maintenance and careful gear choices get this in the bag.

A lot of your other issues seem to come from exhaling too fast while demonstrating with your regulator out of your mouth. Slow down in volume and rate, just a trace is all it takes to demonstrate an open airway. Take a good deep breath and do the skills.In reality you won't always have the luxury of getting your regulator kicked out of your mouth with a full breath but for now breathe deep and keep practicing. Confidence is a powerful skill so get some of that first. The purge button is your friend, maybe savior when you have to do an empty lung recovery. You do want to take some time at some point and practice recovering after an exhale. This can wait until you are confident and certified.

The snorkel clearing problem is the result of them shortcutting the basic skill of skindiving. Get in the water someplace and go skindiving including duck dives. Keep practicing until you can dive, surface, clear and keep swimming without skipping a beat.

CESA, when done vertically will sort of replenish your lungs as the air within expands, this and confidence will help. You won't get more air in your tank but some lower pressure air may become accessible at a lesser depth.

The time you couldn't swim up says 2 things. 1, you recognized you had air and calmed down, awesome! 2, you must not have been neutral in the water, you must have been on the bottom. Otherwise a gentle kick up would do it. In fact if you were overweighted and neutral you would have gone up even faster. This is because overweighted has you with more air in your BC. This BC air is what expands and accelerates your ascent.

The first steps of mask clearing went well, just keep practicing.

Your throat discomfort is a lot of stuff. Dry air, chlorine, coughing and all. Some regulators are better at avoiding dry mouth but the lions share of what you are feeling will go away when diving for real.

Just keep at it you are really doing well even if some stuff is challenging. Learning to dive is an adaptation and most folks have a few things that take some getting accustomed to. Just be patient with yourself and demand the same from others. It sounds like you have good people working with you. Keep plugging away, it will be worth it.

Pete

---------- Post added June 9th, 2013 at 08:39 AM ----------

Hopefully the 7mm we check out in will have better fit, since the quarry is cold (we wear hoods- which I've ask for one to try today, since I have enough freak out problems!) but it was okay for the pool.

Yes, were required to wear hoods and gloves (it was too warm for the full 7mm suits) after the first evening. Check out time is not when you want to meet these items for the first time.

The hood will solve the hair in the strap problem. You may need to loosen the strap to keep the mask behaving.

Pete
 

flots am

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I did my first confined water dives today. (I think these were dives 1 and 2 combined. We didn't get out of the water.)
I had what I considered a very major freakout, hyperventilating refusing to descend, but my instructor was very good and talked me through it. In the end, I don't feel that I did the horizontal CESA or was able to disconnect my low pressure inflator hose, so I'm wondering if I get checked off on those or not when I get my book back.

"Confined water dives" are in a pool. Your first one should have been in the shallow end and ideally, with a snorkel, not SCUBA. Your second pool session should also have been in the shallow end of the pool, with SCUBA equipment. While it's possible that combining 1&2 doesn't violate standards (I have no idea about your agency), it's certainly not a good idea from the student's perspective.

There should be pretty much zero anxiety at this point, and your instructor shouldn't have you doing anything you're uncomfortable or anxious about.

If you're anxious, that means that the class is moving along on a schedule that makes it convenient for the instructor, not safe and happy for you. You might want to speak up and see if they'll slow down, put you into another class or give you a refund so you can find another shop.

flots.
 

Steve_C

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Thanks so much for the encouraging comments!



Definetly a wrong size wetsuit- they just eyeball us and throw one in the bag. However, I'm only 5'0 so short even for a woman, and sadly not 'junior' size thin anymore. (The 14 year old girl in the class was quite a bit taller than me.) Hopefully the 7mm we check out in will have better fit, since the quarry is cold (we wear hoods- which I've ask for one to try today, since I have enough freak out problems!) but it was okay for the pool.

Thanks for information about the signal. We learned OK, and then the 'so-so' hand sign (at least that's how I use it in real life) means "trouble". I'll have to find out what is in between the two.

Sometimes the difference is agreed on. With my dive buddies we use so-so to mean we are not ready and need to sort something out. If there is a specific problem like ears, mask, that is then indicated. If they want to ascend or turn the dive that is indicated then. If they do not indicate anything specific I just wait while they sort it out. Sometimes it just means I need a couple minutes to get my act together.

You can combine a stop with a so-so if you want followed by an ok when ready. Always should agree on hand signals before a dive.
 

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Sounds bad, i had 4 women yesterday for confined water 1 and 2. Your class didn't have to be like that. I would never let you plug your nose as a crutch and i would have shown you how to get that low pressure hose off, there are ways to make diving work for you, your instructors probably don't know how, they need to read scubaboard.... Im back in the pool when i get out of bed, coffeee first...
 

DivemasterDennis

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Everyone has a unique experience with scuba diving for the first time, and everyone has unique issues. Rather than comment on things I was not there to observe, let me direct you to one of my blog entries, called 'Student Divers, Don't Think Too much." While it is more focused on open water dives, you may find it helpful. But don't force yourself to do what is not working for you. There are some people for whom scuba just is not going to be there thing. For others it comes naturally and almost effortlessly. Relax, listen to instruction, communicate any problems immediately, and it will come to you or it won't. Be positive and look for that "aha" moment when you do feel comfortable and in control. If it doesn't come, then its time to reevaluate.
DivemasterDennis
 

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Location
Canonsburg, Pa
# of dives
1000 - 2499
I am going to be honest here and say you are in no way ready to move on to the next set of skills. You were not ready to move from session one to session two. Your anxiety is more than I would expect out of someone ready to progress. You are doing a lot of things right. Questioning the level of instruction you are gettting, questioning the pace, questioning the instructors opinion of your skills, and being concerned enough to bring it out in the open and get some advice. This is that little voice in your head that comes from self preservation getting involved.

It is not unwarranted. The class is moving way too fast and not in a way that will have any benefits for you. If your next two sessions go like this one did, I fully expect you to be thoroughly miserable on your open water dives which you will not be ready for.

And I would consider it to be unsafe and an unnecessary risk to even take you on those dives. The open water check outs are just that. Checkouts. They are to verify that all the lessons in the classroom and pool resulted in a person that is now ready to plan, execute, and safely return from an open water dive with a buddy of equal training and no instructor present.

Unless you have a major breakthrough in the next pool session I see this as another diver that is likely to leave the activity due to not liking it. And not because of anything she did wrong. But due to instructors rushing, cutting corners, violating standards, and trying their best to create a false sense of security in her.

That you felt that you did not successfully complete a number of skills and that having to do a mask clear in deep water will be a problem are major red flags. The instructors are not listening to you and that can be very dangerous. Under our standards you need to recover the mask and snorkel from deep water, clear it, and have the snorkel ready to inhale from as your head breaks the surface. This is before I can even put you on scuba.

Holding your nose is not acceptable and tells me that they did not spend enough time with you on basic skills such as no mask breathing and just clearing a mask and snorkel. That they also had you in ill fitting gear and I don't see any mention of a proper weight check is inexcusable.

I am sure you do not realize just how dangerous being overweighted is. Overweighting in the cause of more runaway ascents as you need to add so much extra air to the bc to offset it just to be neutral. So if you do accidentally start up there is that much more air to expand and increase the rate of ascent.

That you could not do a fin pivot is disturbing and it sounds like they did not fully explain what the goal was and how to achieve it. Another red flag. Not giving you the information necessary to be safe underwater and achieve neutral buoyancy. The fin pivot BTW is a very poor way to do that IMO.

How many hours total are you going to end up with if it stays on this pace before your scheduled OW dives? Whatever it is based on how the first session went it will not be nearly enough.

" Kevin says the guy told him he doesn't tell people who freak out that- likely because it doesn't help them and it kind of trivializes how they're feeling,"

Wrong, wrong, wrong! It does not trivialize how one is feeling as you yourself just stated. I do tell people I have seen worse when I have and then explain why they were.

And use that to build and reinforce their level of confidence by focusing on what they did right and use that as a base to build on. What you are feeling is normal and it's not. It's normal given the lack of quality in the instruction you are getting for your needs. It is not normal for someone who is looking forward to an activity as fun, as relaxing, and as beneficial as this is. You should be feeling some nervousness. But the nervousness that comes from the excitement of doing something new, cool, and with a tinge of danger to it.

I don't see this as the case. Your tendency to and feeling of wanting to stand up is one of the worst things that can happen. Did the instructors emphasize why you don't do that and need to resist any urge to? Bet not.


It's because you can embolize in as little as four feet of water. It only takes one time to take a full breath off the reg, get panicked for some small reason, stand up and forget to exhale. That can seriously injure you. Or worse. I like to have people when they get on scuba for the first time get under the water horizontal, lay on the bottom in the shallow end, and just breath. For as long as five minutes while I observe their reactions and breathing rate. I need to see them relax and get into a nice normal breathing rhythm before we move on to anything else. The short shallow breathing you speak of doing is not ok. It allows CO2 to build up and that can cause other problems.


I think you could be a fine diver. But it is going to take more time, patience, and perhaps even expertise than your current instructors possess or are willing to invest. I may be wrong on that but before you go any further you need to have a serious talk with them and do not let them minimize or brush off your concerns as they are valid ones.
 
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