Failed my Day 1 PADI Pool Training

Please register or login

Welcome to ScubaBoard, the world's largest scuba diving community. Registration is not required to read the forums, but we encourage you to join. Joining has its benefits and enables you to participate in the discussions.

Benefits of registering include

  • Ability to post and comment on topics and discussions.
  • A Free photo gallery to share your dive photos with the world.
  • You can make this box go away

Joining is quick and easy. Log in or Register now!

Quicklynx

New
Messages
4
Reaction score
13
Location
Frederick, MD
# of dives
None - Not Certified
Yesterday, I failed to get past Section Two in the training. A lot hit me at once and I couldn't recover from it.

I'll start from the beginning.

I've been wanting to learn how to dive for a few years now. My wife is a diver and has dove all over, including the Galapagos and the Great Barrier Reef. She has most of the PADI certs as well.

My main deterrent for not trying years ago is I have exercise induced asthma. It is controlled.

I decided to see if I could give SCUBA a try. I reached out to DAN and they gave me a recommendation of Physicians to see.

The first I saw was a Cardiologist. She put me through multiple stress tests and I passed all of them with no issues. I was told I did as or better than most of the Georgetown Basketball players that get put through the tests with them.

These tests I wasn't too concerned about because I knew I would pass them no issues. A little background on myself, I'm a commercially rated pilot that has to get a 1st class medical approved annually, including an EKG each time. My heart is strong.

She signed me off for her portion and recommended I only do shore diving, and use the DAN network so if I do have an issue I can get medical care quicker than if I was on a remote dive. She did not limit my depth.

The second physician I saw was a pulmonologist, and I figured I was going to be disqualified immediately. He put me through multiple tests and while I may have asthma, I was able to clear the air out of my lungs in all the situations and it was shown on the spirometry tests. I passed them every time.

He was willing to sign me off but he recommended I only dive with my wife because she is very experienced, rescue diver certified, and knows my limitations. He recommended my first 20 dives I dive no deeper than being able to surface without the need for a safety stop. He also did not limit on my depth.

I was signed off so I signed up for a PADI course at one of the local dive shops. I was very excited. I have been studying the PADI book for years now, but I was required to do the eLearning portion. No problem. When I arrived to the class and turned in all the paperwork and the online portion was checked, I scored higher than anyone else. I definitely applied myself.

We went over the equipment, etc, and I had no issues.

What I wasn't prepared for was how fast paced this course is once we hit the water. For the skills set 1, I was already lost. I think this was my first mistake. I never did a discovery dive before, so this would be the first time I ever put a regulator in my mouth and breathe under water. As someone who has flown the fastest of Aircraft, performed Aerobatic Flight, and occasional has jumped out of airplanes, I don't really have too much fear, which led me to complacency with diving.

The first thing we did was try to go under. Everyone else got under the water and I couldn't figure out how. I was hitting the button but wasn't sinking. When I finally got under, I ended up floating into the instructor. I'm couldn't stay put. After that my mask filled up. I surfaced and he came up and started asking, very firm, why my mask was off and my regulator was out of my mouth. I didn't really know how to respond and pretty much just said I was sorry.

We went under again and we did the mask clearing, but I was still struggling just to control my buoyancy. I surfaced by accident because of it. He came up again, and my regulator was out of my mouth again, which resulted in more questions. I told him I don't know what I was doing wrong but I can't seem to get down. He told one of the other dive instructors to put weight on my tank. That did the trick and after that I was able to control much better. Obviously, from the book, I had an understanding, but in the moment I didn't know and couldn't figure out the reason because I was simply a rookie.

I did okay even through the switching of alternate air sources with my buddy, but I was having issues with my hamstrings. I've never had a hamstring cramp in my life, even when I was performing hook maneuvers in some aircraft, clenching my legs as tight as I could to ensure the blood stays in my upper body. I tried to stretch them but it wasn't working. I surfaced again and I guess he thought I was faking it because he said in all his years he's never had anyone cramp in both legs at the same time. In my case, I did. To make matters worse my feet were starting to hurt because my boots and fins, which I purchased, I tried on at the dive shop months before and I was told these are the right size. Unfortunately, I guess I didn't know any better, but within a half hour I couldn't feel my toes, and if my legs weren't straight the entire time, my hamstrings cramped. The kneeling was no longer an option for me.

While all this is happening I'm trying to keep up, but I'm definitely behind on all the other students. I honestly felt like I was inhibiting the class at this point.

When in the deep end is when things started getting really uncomfortable for me. Maybe it was a combination of trying to keep up, but all of sudden the fear set in. My mask kept trickling water, and I couldn't clear it well. It also kept fogging when there was no water in it. The mask was new, but I did take a lighter to it to burn off whatever silicone I could.

I guess everything combined I kind of panicked and told him I needed to go up. As I was going up I saw him shake his head under water. He came up and asked me if I was okay. I told him I was just really uncomfortable. He said he could see it in my eyes, but said "you're going to get water in your mask and your regulator." It was kind of like a "just deal with it" moment.

At this point I guess there was no recovering. I tried to go back under water and I lasted about 10 seconds. My body just wanted to take fast deep breaths on the regulator, which is very hard. I felt like I couldn't get the air I need. I closed my eyes and was trying to calm, but my body just kept feeling worse. My hamstrings were killing me, my feet were cramping at this point, and I thought I was going to drown.

I surfaced and he came up and said he saw it in my eyes again. At this point, I had failed. I was asked about my mask and if I put toothpaste on it. He noticed it fogging. I told him I did the lighter, in which the response was that I didn't do a good job of it, and to use toothpaste. Noted. As for the wide eyes and falling at this point, he told me it was okay and that it took him several tries to get his certification as well. He said he had the same fear and it took him 4 class sessions before it went away.

I was told I have to stay in the pool and observe, because if I left, the next course will cost the full amount again, as opposed to a pool free the next time I can take it to try and get through this again.

I tried to observe what I could, and even tried to go under to get comfortable, but for some reason, my mind was just gone. I couldn't even get comfortable with breathing through a snorkel.

I've snorkeled on every vacation I've gone on. I don't have an issue with that, but in the pool after everything, it felt like I was still underwater.

I was told I could participate in the other portions if I want, but obviously everything is streamlined, so I can't jump some skills, get credit, then come back to other ones later. It didn't matter. Anything under water I was just scared at this point. I couldn't get back under and I couldn't get my breathing under control.

I don't really know how I went downhill so fast. It was incredibly discouraging.

I left that class feeling pretty awful about my performance, all to tell my wife about how I failed it, which she was very supportive of, gave her feedback, and has some ideas to help me. I think it took her off guard considering my technical history of flying, and other variants of fairly extreme training.

Underwater was just different, and the oddest thing has happened since.

I don't really know how to explain it, but once the lights went off for bed last night, I felt like I was boxed in under water It was bizarre and claustrophobic like. I don't know what happened but I actually had to sleep on the couch in my kitchen with the ice maker light on in order to feel comfortable again. This is something I've never had to do in my life. I didn't even have a night light as a child.

I don't really know how to go from here. I think one thing is the multi student class session isn't for me. I probably need a personal instructor so I can move at a slower pace.

My wife thinks I just need to start breathing on a regulator with compressed air sitting on our couch to get used to it. She said it costs about $5 for a tank and she can hook up her regulator for me and just work my lungs with it.

Then to probably just goto a pool that would allow for us to just sit in the Shallow end and get comfortable breathing under water. The deep end is where I started losing it during the course.

I probably need a proper fitting wet suit. I think it was just too tight around my legs and was cutting off the circulation. I, obviously, need either new fins or boots.

As much as the claustrophobia, fear of drowning, fear of not being able to get a full breath of air, hit me on my first ever experience under water, I still want to continue and try. I'm never one to give up on anything. I understand I may have limitations on my body and my breathing may just not work under water, in which if I can't dive, it is what it is, but still disappointing.

Any tips for these issues? I'm trying not to be shell shocked going back into the water again, but it's eating away at my mind.

Thanks for any tips. I apologize if this comes off as depressing or whining or anything. That is not my intention. This is more genuine story telling of my initial experience. I embrace failure as a chance to learn, and being a pilot I have faced many adversities, failures and losses to get where I'm at.

Thank you
 

stiebs

Contributor
Messages
739
Reaction score
195
Location
Melbourne, Australia
# of dives
500 - 999
That doesn't sound like a great experience. My first suggestion would be to find another shop and/or instructor - one that actually cares about his/her students' experience, and not just slamming out another bunch of cert cards.

If your wife is an experienced diver, and she has her own gear, nothing wrong with heading to the pool yourself, and just get used to breathing underwater without any other gear - just swimsuit, mask and regulator.

Definitely make sure your mask is a good fit and doesn't leak. If you can make yours stay dry, its a distraction you don't need! Once you are a more comfortable and experienced diver, you may be able to view water in your mask as something you can live with - but it doesn't have to be.

It's also worthwhile giving the inside of your mask a rub with some toothpaste - the old fashioned white stuff, not the funky gel. It'll help with the fogging, and give you a nice minty smell to boot.
 

mc42

Contributor
Messages
132
Reaction score
150
Location
Vancouver, Canada
# of dives
200 - 499
Go for private lessons with a good, patient instructor. Group lessons are not for everybody and there is absolutely no shame in that. Being athletic, coordinated, fit, and possessing other land or air skills don’t always translate into immediate success in scuba. The perils of group lessons are exactly what you experienced - once you get behind the group you can feel rushed and self-conscious, causing your enjoyment and performance to decline.

Breathing underwater for the first time, trying to clear a mask, and all of the other skills need to be slowly built up. For example, we first start students with no mask, breathing off the reg, face in the water. Then build up to a mask, then a little water and clearing, etc. The idea is water on your face and eyes is no big deal. Many of us keep a little water in our masks so we can swish it around to clear the fog.

I spent two hours working with a student on clearing her mask. No go. Panic, water up the nose whenever she exhaled. The next day we tried a new mask, not a rental, and some different tips based upon listening to her, and a prior evening of relaxation. Success. Now she can do it like a champ. Part of my suggestion to her was to just get out of the water and practice breathing through her snorkel and exhaling through her nose - as a yoga person she had trained to do the opposite. There is no way she would have had this attention in a group class.

The instructor’s attitude sounds quite terrible, to be honest. Pushing someone past the point of panic is counterproductive.

Remember, underwater, as long as you’re breathing and have air left, you can take your time solving your problem. Panic is natural but it can be overcome. It may just take time in a pool with just a mask and snorkel, slowly working through the progression. No mask, mask, partial flood, full flood, etc. Do it in your sink, shower or bathtub even, just to get used to those sensations and reassuring yourself that you’ll be OK.

I’m sorry that you had such a negative experience and kudos to your attitude - I am sure you’ll be able to get through. Just take your time and find someone willing to work with you. It’s very possible that once you’re caught up with the pool session you can rejoin the group lessons again for your open water dives. Those dives don’t introduce any new skills, rather more of a check ride to make sure you can do the existing skills in open water.
 

Edward3c

Contributor
Scuba instructor
Messages
2,175
Reaction score
1,405
Location
Alexandria
Hi,
First don’t beat yourself up over this. You didn’t fail, the instructor did.

Our bodies are not designed to be underwater.

This is based on what you’ve stated, and I don’t teach the PADI syllabus, I’m a BSAC instructor:
* they should have got you to breath off the reg above the water then gently submerge until your head is under, that’s what I do with new divers.
* buoyancy: your instructor should have done a buoyancy check with you so you could do the mask and other skills horizontal, just off the bottom.
* wetsuit: was the pool water that cold you needed a suit? You might have been overheating. Your suit should be snug, but not tight. A thin layer of water should be able to get between you and the suit, if the suit is too lose the water will continuously flush making you cold.
* boots/fins: I buy dive boots like any other footwear, for comfort. Your fins should secure, not tight. The mussels used for finning are not the same as for must other sports. It takes time to build them up. Your instructor should have got you to fin on the surface against the pool wall to instruct you on the correct finning acting.
* Mask: did you get shown how to fit your mask, too tight it will leak. Yes, water does sometimes get inside your mask, hence the mask clearing skills. But it shouldn’t be a constant strea. When buying a mask, it should stay on your face without the strap when you lightly breath in through your nose.

My suggestion is get one to one instruction. Ideally with an instructor who does NOT teach kneeling.

There was nothing that I read to indicate you can’t dive.
 

divinh

Contributor
Messages
1,182
Reaction score
699
Location
San Francisco
# of dives
100 - 199
My suggestion is get one to one instruction. Ideally with an instructor who does NOT teach kneeling.

I'm not an instructor.

I notice that the ideal instructor doesn't teach kneeling. I also notice that the consensus is that task overloading, especially for new divers, is a bad thing. Further, buoyancy isn't something most new divers pick up easily nor is it easy to do in shallow water, compared to 3-4 meters, typical of first open water dives.

The first step to getting a new diver used to breathing from the regulator is to have him/her breathe from it while standing in the pool, then slowly submerging and getting used to breathing underwater. Why isn't the new diver expected to be neutrally buoyant and breathing through the regulator, instead of standing? Which is just as bad as kneeling? Isn't the reason to focus on breathing from the regulator, to focus on one task?

Wouldn't kneeling on the bottom to practice mask clearing focus the new diver on the task of mask clearing, instead of buoyancy and mask clearing? Shouldn't the first step be kneeling and mask clearing, then moving to, say fin pivot and mask clearing, then finally to neutrally buoyant and mask clearing?
 

admikar

Contributor
Messages
826
Reaction score
419
Location
Bosnia and Herzegovina
# of dives
100 - 199
Like others said, find a new shop/instructor. What was also said, it's perfectly fine to go to the pool with your wife and use her equipment to get used to how all that works.
On 1-to-1 instruction, that can be double edge sword. Some people are visual learners more than others, so you watching class doing a drill before you might be beneficial. Only you can answer this one.
Also, make sure you talk with your instructor before the class and explain your problems and fears, no matter how stupid and insignificant they might seem. Left unchecked, they might degrade your performance.
 

Edward3c

Contributor
Scuba instructor
Messages
2,175
Reaction score
1,405
Location
Alexandria
I'm not an instructor.

I notice that the ideal instructor doesn't teach kneeling. I also notice that the consensus is that task overloading, especially for new divers, is a bad thing. Further, buoyancy isn't something most new divers pick up easily nor is it easy to do in shallow water, compared to 3-4 meters, typical of first open water dives.

The first step to getting a new diver used to breathing from the regulator is to have him/her breathe from it while standing in the pool, then slowly submerging and getting used to breathing underwater. Why isn't the new diver expected to be neutrally buoyant and breathing through the regulator, instead of standing? Which is just as bad as kneeling? Isn't the reason to focus on breathing from the regulator, to focus on one task?

Wouldn't kneeling on the bottom to practice mask clearing focus the new diver on the task of mask clearing, instead of buoyancy and mask clearing? Shouldn't the first step be kneeling and mask clearing, then moving to, say fin pivot and mask clearing, then finally to neutrally buoyant and mask clearing?
I also thought buoyancy would be difficult for new divers, I learned on my knees.

Then I decided to give it a go. I just demonstrated the skills neutral and the students just did it. If I had started them on their knees, that’s what they would have learned. I find if I made the skills look easy, students learn quicker.
 

Wibble

Contributor
Messages
1,957
Reaction score
1,531
Location
UK
# of dives
500 - 999
don’t beat yourself up over this. You didn’t fail, the instructor did.

Well said.

Please give it another go; you may well find you'll quickly take to it once you've got over the initial hurdle.

A discover scuba experience is good too.

Sounds like the "course" was one of those rushed cattle operations. Not nice.

It's fun. Do it again!
 

SetheryJ

Contributor
Messages
80
Reaction score
59
Location
Antarctica
# of dives
I'm a Fish!
You didn’t fail, the instructor sounds like a complete idiot! Don’t go back to that place, find a good instructor and you’ll be amazed at how well you do. I had one good instructor and one bad instructor during my cert…the difference was incredible.

Good luck.
 

Ana

.
Messages
2,070
Reaction score
3,143
Location
Pompano Beach, FL
# of dives
I just don't log dives
Like others said, I think you were in the wrong class.
Maybe the instructor is ok (doubt it but maybe) but for sure the class setting sounds all kinds of wrong.
Full disclosure, I stopped reading after reading you couldn't sink even after pushing the button. You can do better.
 
https://www.shearwater.com/products/peregrine/

Top Bottom