Failed Open Water in Dry Suit and Devastated - Any Advice?

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Rizbit

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Without reading every post, and without knowing the whole story... some thoughts from me:
Your story reminds me a bit about how my daughter felt during her first course in a drysuit. She gave up for about two years, and still have bad memories about her course and do not like a drysuit. Do not give up.
Personally, I do think the way they give away OW cards after 3 days diving in a drysuit is the best idea in the world, and that this is one of the reasons so many divers quit - and that has nothing to do with you or your level of skill.
Every diver has a different starting point - that does not define where you end up. "Take OW in a wetsuit" seems to be an easy answer- I would personally find a good instructor and/or a very good dive community that does drysuits.

Hopefully, your instructor told you what you failed on. Practice that with a better instructor and experienced divers. Then try again with someone who makes you feel safe and helps you move forward.
I dive all year in Norway -so the conditions are very similar. The first thing I notice is your instructor not trying to follow a few basic rules (well.. I was not there obviously, but from what I read).

As mentioned: Diving (at starting level) should feel safe , and relaxing (in the water) to avoid dangers and keep your air consumption down. Your instructors job is to make that happen.
Your suit is obviously not fitting. Ok, that can happen at courses, but at least the instructor should have told you about it. If you are serious about diving - consider getting a drysuit that fits, and with the right size boots (buy second hand). It makes a difference.
You do seem overweighted - again not uncommon as you will be "floaty" when stressed. If you did not do a weight check (or three) during your course you know someone did not do their job. Taking off a lot of lead will make walking and buoyancy much easier (less air in suit/wing)
I do most my dives with heavy tech gear, and do a lot of shore dives, I do not carry all my gear on me walking to the water. I would have to use 10 minutes to cool down, and break my back. Your instructor should have helped you carry the heavy items close to the water, and put on the last bits there. That would have made things a lot easier. Do things smart (in and out of the water)

Drysuits are ...different.. Personally I prefer drysuits in almost all conditions, but they do take some time to master (but when you do, they are very nice and gives a lot of benefits - as for example an extra source of bouyancy if your BCD fails). It will take you 20+dives or more to get the hang of it - OW will not do that but should get you started. Do not take a course for "peak buoyancy".. just practice with friends..

Bottom line:
Do not give up on this great hobby
Do find a good instructor, who helps you move forward and learn
Give drysuits a chance (and some time.. you will go feet first up once or twice.. learn and redo)
Do not listen to the crap about "lift weights and get stronger". Be smart.. and have fun.
 

60plus

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Despite being a big strong male and a competent swimmer I am glad I did not start in a drysuit in cold water. I would have found it hard. I have seen far too many who try to initially dive in a drysuit give up. Take a 2 week holiday to any of the Canary Islands or Madeira and learn there in a wetsuit. Most dive centres will be able to hire you a drysuit to get used to once you are qualified. My recommendation would be Divepoint on Madeira, Safari diving or Manta diving on Lanzarote. I do not know what prices are like from Iceland, you might be better booking through a uk holiday company and coming here.
I am going to Tenerife from 15 to 26 May and it is costing just under £60 per person per night for breakfast and dinner, an apartment with full cooking facilities, flights, transfers and insurance. Dive course prices as per the dive centres websites
 

sourdough

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keep it up bud, the secret is to suck less and less, and then eventually we achieve our goal. You can do it. 🫧♥️

I saw GUE has a drysuit primer course, I plan to take it next on my slow path to tech training.
 

Lorenzoid

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keep it up bud, the secret is to suck less and less, and then eventually we achieve our goal. You can do it. 🫧♥️

I saw GUE has a drysuit primer course, I plan to take it next on my slow path to tech training.
I felt the Drysuit primer course was worthwhile. I took a combined Drysuit and Doubles primer. It was a difficult transition from diving in a single tank and wetsuit. I may have mentioned this earlier in this thread. I suspect I may have had an easier time of it if I had taken the Drysuit primer first, and then taken the Doubles primer, but who knows.
 

Heat Miser

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Hey everyone, long-time lurker over here, it's my first time posting, and I'm very sorry it's such a long one....
I'm completely devastated
I think it took me nearly 50 dives to feel any sort of comfort in my Drysuit. I couldn't imagine doing an open water course in one. It would seem to me to be reasonable to take another 3-5 days of experience to bed it all down.

My wife only goes to tropical islands and dives, she has the guide carry her tanks to the boat. She does wash down her own equipment but that, the giant stride off the boat and climbing back up the ladder are about her limit for hauling tanks.
 

Gandalf-the-Diver

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Hey everyone, long-time lurker over here, it's my first time posting, and I'm very sorry it's such a long one....
I'm completely devastated after failing my Open Water this weekend, and am in some serious need for some perspective, advice and hopefully encouragement. I've been wanting to learn how to dive for over a decade, and finally decided to give a proper go. I live part time in Iceland so I went to do the OW course here over a three day weekend.

The pool dives were done on day 1 and went well - however, ALL dives are done in a drysuit, because there's no real wetsuit dive sites in Iceland, since the water's like 2-3 degrees C, maybe 8 in some places. The pool dives were all about getting used to the drysuit and that super restrictive feeling whilst also still trying to figure out how to actually dive... but all good, completed the exercises, got more confident as the day went on and felt optimistic about the upcoming Open Water dives at the end of day 1.The only thing that worried me was the weight of the gear - I'm a 36yo female, 160cm / 5ft 3, and not particularly strong, at all - could just make it out of the pool with all the gear, and was able to walk a little bit with it on; but with the dry suit and the gear I felt as though a hippo was sitting on my chest (even when I inflated the suit somewhat), whilst choking me (I also needed an additional strap around the neck seal) and I'm carrying another hippo on my back at the same time, it was beyond exhausting. And then during the next two days on the Open Water dives everything went wrong, just everything - I had no idea how far we would have to walk with the gear on for every single dive, across slippery uneven stones and rocks, so by the time we reached waist deep water I was just about ready to pass out, with the suit being so tight and the gear being unbearably heavy, I just couldn't catch my breath at all; by the time we had to put our regulators on I was still breathing so fast like I had just done a sprint, and could just not breathe quickly enough through it. The first time I also fell twice wading through the water because my legs couldn't carry the weight anymore, and then I couldn't catch my breath and needed to go out and try again in the afternoon.

Once I was underwater I usually felt ok, I didn't have issues with the suit, in fact I liked the insulation and protection, and liked using it for buoyancy, and I didn't think I was doing badly - then the next day the CESA exercise, I couldn't get enough momentum to catapult myself in the suit high enough out of the water to manually inflate the BCD, got a couple breaths in, and was again so exhausted that I needed to breathe faster but the neck seal and the suit, with the gazillion thermal layers and undergarments, were too restrictive to let me do that. At that point I called it a day, I knew it just wouldn't get better. I'm not a panicky person, and I wasn't panicking that I wasn't getting any air, I was just so exhausted from the weight of the gear, and the kicking, and the restrictive suit which wouldn't let me breathe as fast as I needed to, my mind was always calm and I was trying to breathe slowly and deeply and just relax - but my body just cannot bear the weight and then immediately go from really heavy fast breathing and a pulse of 150-160 to super relaxed in an instance.

I feel like the biggest failure, no one seems to have an issue passing the OW, but I also feel a bit cheated by the dive centre tbh.. of course I understand there is no wetsuit diving in Iceland, but the theory studying ahead of the practical course made it all look as though even people who aren't regularly competing in Strong Man can go diving, they just put their gear on in the water, or they gear up on a boat and then drop in. Some kind of warning about the conditions, of how heavy the gear really is, how the restrictive dry suits can make it that much more challenging - especially for complete novices! - and how far you'd have to walk to the dive sites with all the gear on, would have been much appreciated, then I could have saved myself some cash, disappointment, and a lot of tears because I feel like an absolute failure. Everyone makes it seem as though it's next to impossible to fail the OW, and I've seen people post who aren't crazy strong or have injuries that don't allow them to carry the gear as much, and they all seem to be able to do it. Am I just hopeless, or is there a chance that learning in a wet suit in warmer waters is just easier?

I don't seem to find a lot of posts online of people having done their entire OW in a drysuit, so I have no understanding of whether others are finding it just as difficult. I was also struggling to put my mask back on underwater because I was of course wearing a hood and three-finger gloves, making me feel like retarded lobster unable to get the strap back over my head, fumbling with it for over two minutes with ice water in my face.. I feel terrible for having to give up on my dream and have no idea where to go from here. The instructor was nice and all, but I think he got fed up with me towards the end, I was hoping he'd say something encouraging, like, that I can probably do it, but maybe learning in Iceland is just not the right path for me; but he didn't so maybe he thinks I'm not capable.. just so sad and hoping to hear something from people who've done both wet and drysuit and can maybe understand what I'm describing and offer up some advice on the learning conditions.
Hi, west coast of Canada here, on Vancouver Island. I too, did my OW in a drysuit. Water here is 7C- 11C in summer. I found that I would take my ditchable weights, down to the water edge, then go back and get kitted up. Even today, I use a buggy, and transport a lot of my kit, closer to the water, so I do not have to carry it far.
The complexities of dry suit diving, frustrated me for quite a while. I use the air in the suit, only to overcome squeeze, not for buoyancy. Although in an emergency, a dry suit can also be considered a redundant buoyancy system.
I found it took me around 50 dives, before my buoyancy really started to come under control. I am shore diving 2-4 times a week. In all my courses, all my instructors made sure, everyone was good to go after water entry, If someone needed a few min to chill and catch your breath, it was all good. Noboday was ever pressured to, get ready faster, and the group could continue when everyone was comfortable. Give it another try. Bare 5mm gloves with the reactive lining are very warm, and much easier to use. Hope it all works out for you, Silfra diving is on my bucket list.
 

Satrekker

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Your dive center didn't do you any favors. 3 days for a completely inexperienced dive student to pass OW in what sounds like an ill-fitted, over-weighted dry suit sounds like a recipe for disaster. You are better off not receiving a "pass" from them based upon your description. You do not want to dive poorly trained and ill equipped. That is NOT a recipe for success.

I would definitely look for another place to receive training, and you can also look into some strength training to increase your proficiency. That should also help with your confidence.

Scuba diving is not a competitive race. It is more akin to a self-paced journey of discovery. There are no time limits or deadlines when it comes to learning. Move forward as you become more comfortable. Solid instruction is worth the money AND the time. Don't short change yourself trying to get things done too quickly.

GL
 

Gandalf-the-Diver

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Hey everyone, long-time lurker over here, it's my first time posting, and I'm very sorry it's such a long one....
I'm completely devastated after failing my Open Water this weekend, and am in some serious need for some perspective, advice and hopefully encouragement. I've been wanting to learn how to dive for over a decade, and finally decided to give a proper go. I live part time in Iceland so I went to do the OW course here over a three day weekend.

The pool dives were done on day 1 and went well - however, ALL dives are done in a drysuit, because there's no real wetsuit dive sites in Iceland, since the water's like 2-3 degrees C, maybe 8 in some places. The pool dives were all about getting used to the drysuit and that super restrictive feeling whilst also still trying to figure out how to actually dive... but all good, completed the exercises, got more confident as the day went on and felt optimistic about the upcoming Open Water dives at the end of day 1.The only thing that worried me was the weight of the gear - I'm a 36yo female, 160cm / 5ft 3, and not particularly strong, at all - could just make it out of the pool with all the gear, and was able to walk a little bit with it on; but with the dry suit and the gear I felt as though a hippo was sitting on my chest (even when I inflated the suit somewhat), whilst choking me (I also needed an additional strap around the neck seal) and I'm carrying another hippo on my back at the same time, it was beyond exhausting. And then during the next two days on the Open Water dives everything went wrong, just everything - I had no idea how far we would have to walk with the gear on for every single dive, across slippery uneven stones and rocks, so by the time we reached waist deep water I was just about ready to pass out, with the suit being so tight and the gear being unbearably heavy, I just couldn't catch my breath at all; by the time we had to put our regulators on I was still breathing so fast like I had just done a sprint, and could just not breathe quickly enough through it. The first time I also fell twice wading through the water because my legs couldn't carry the weight anymore, and then I couldn't catch my breath and needed to go out and try again in the afternoon.

Once I was underwater I usually felt ok, I didn't have issues with the suit, in fact I liked the insulation and protection, and liked using it for buoyancy, and I didn't think I was doing badly - then the next day the CESA exercise, I couldn't get enough momentum to catapult myself in the suit high enough out of the water to manually inflate the BCD, got a couple breaths in, and was again so exhausted that I needed to breathe faster but the neck seal and the suit, with the gazillion thermal layers and undergarments, were too restrictive to let me do that. At that point I called it a day, I knew it just wouldn't get better. I'm not a panicky person, and I wasn't panicking that I wasn't getting any air, I was just so exhausted from the weight of the gear, and the kicking, and the restrictive suit which wouldn't let me breathe as fast as I needed to, my mind was always calm and I was trying to breathe slowly and deeply and just relax - but my body just cannot bear the weight and then immediately go from really heavy fast breathing and a pulse of 150-160 to super relaxed in an instance.

I feel like the biggest failure, no one seems to have an issue passing the OW, but I also feel a bit cheated by the dive centre tbh.. of course I understand there is no wetsuit diving in Iceland, but the theory studying ahead of the practical course made it all look as though even people who aren't regularly competing in Strong Man can go diving, they just put their gear on in the water, or they gear up on a boat and then drop in. Some kind of warning about the conditions, of how heavy the gear really is, how the restrictive dry suits can make it that much more challenging - especially for complete novices! - and how far you'd have to walk to the dive sites with all the gear on, would have been much appreciated, then I could have saved myself some cash, disappointment, and a lot of tears because I feel like an absolute failure. Everyone makes it seem as though it's next to impossible to fail the OW, and I've seen people post who aren't crazy strong or have injuries that don't allow them to carry the gear as much, and they all seem to be able to do it. Am I just hopeless, or is there a chance that learning in a wet suit in warmer waters is just easier?

I don't seem to find a lot of posts online of people having done their entire OW in a drysuit, so I have no understanding of whether others are finding it just as difficult. I was also struggling to put my mask back on underwater because I was of course wearing a hood and three-finger gloves, making me feel like retarded lobster unable to get the strap back over my head, fumbling with it for over two minutes with ice water in my face.. I feel terrible for having to give up on my dream and have no idea where to go from here. The instructor was nice and all, but I think he got fed up with me towards the end, I was hoping he'd say something encouraging, like, that I can probably do it, but maybe learning in Iceland is just not the right path for me; but he didn't so maybe he thinks I'm not capable.. just so sad and hoping to hear something from people who've done both wet and drysuit and can maybe understand what I'm describing and offer up some advice on the learning conditions.
I did my OW in a drysuit too. Vancouver Island, 8C-11C. I found that I had a hard time with all the weight on my knees and back. I had just turned 59, and was overweight at the time. I ended up, transporting my gear to the waters edge a lot, then getting suited up and go back for my gear. A gear buggy became my best friend. The weight of everything, I have gotten used to, mainly by diving 2-4 times a week. I have also lost 25lbs, since I 1st got my OW; and that has made it easier. I believe as Marie said, sounds like your suit and undergarments, might not have been sized the best. They should not be that restricting. Your instructor should be able to add your OW dives to another class, to try again. Or the other option, get cert in warm water, then go back and do the dry suit cert separately. Good Luck
 

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SlugMug

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Hey everyone, long-time lurker over here, it's my first time posting, and I'm very sorry it's such a long one....
I'm completely devastated after failing my Open Water this weekend, and am in some serious need for some perspective, advice and hopefully encouragement. I've been wanting to learn how to dive for over a decade, and finally decided to give a proper go. I live part time in Iceland so I went to do the OW course here over a three day weekend.

The pool dives were done on day 1 and went well - however, ALL dives are done in a drysuit, because there's no real wetsuit dive sites in Iceland, since the water's like 2-3 degrees C, maybe 8 in some places. The pool dives were all about getting used to the drysuit and that super restrictive feeling whilst also still trying to figure out how to actually dive... but all good, completed the exercises, got more confident as the day went on and felt optimistic about the upcoming Open Water dives at the end of day 1.The only thing that worried me was the weight of the gear - I'm a 36yo female, 160cm / 5ft 3, and not particularly strong, at all - could just make it out of the pool with all the gear, and was able to walk a little bit with it on; but with the dry suit and the gear I felt as though a hippo was sitting on my chest (even when I inflated the suit somewhat), whilst choking me (I also needed an additional strap around the neck seal) and I'm carrying another hippo on my back at the same time, it was beyond exhausting. And then during the next two days on the Open Water dives everything went wrong, just everything - I had no idea how far we would have to walk with the gear on for every single dive, across slippery uneven stones and rocks, so by the time we reached waist deep water I was just about ready to pass out, with the suit being so tight and the gear being unbearably heavy, I just couldn't catch my breath at all; by the time we had to put our regulators on I was still breathing so fast like I had just done a sprint, and could just not breathe quickly enough through it. The first time I also fell twice wading through the water because my legs couldn't carry the weight anymore, and then I couldn't catch my breath and needed to go out and try again in the afternoon.

Once I was underwater I usually felt ok, I didn't have issues with the suit, in fact I liked the insulation and protection, and liked using it for buoyancy, and I didn't think I was doing badly - then the next day the CESA exercise, I couldn't get enough momentum to catapult myself in the suit high enough out of the water to manually inflate the BCD, got a couple breaths in, and was again so exhausted that I needed to breathe faster but the neck seal and the suit, with the gazillion thermal layers and undergarments, were too restrictive to let me do that. At that point I called it a day, I knew it just wouldn't get better. I'm not a panicky person, and I wasn't panicking that I wasn't getting any air, I was just so exhausted from the weight of the gear, and the kicking, and the restrictive suit which wouldn't let me breathe as fast as I needed to, my mind was always calm and I was trying to breathe slowly and deeply and just relax - but my body just cannot bear the weight and then immediately go from really heavy fast breathing and a pulse of 150-160 to super relaxed in an instance.

I feel like the biggest failure, no one seems to have an issue passing the OW, but I also feel a bit cheated by the dive centre tbh.. of course I understand there is no wetsuit diving in Iceland, but the theory studying ahead of the practical course made it all look as though even people who aren't regularly competing in Strong Man can go diving, they just put their gear on in the water, or they gear up on a boat and then drop in. Some kind of warning about the conditions, of how heavy the gear really is, how the restrictive dry suits can make it that much more challenging - especially for complete novices! - and how far you'd have to walk to the dive sites with all the gear on, would have been much appreciated, then I could have saved myself some cash, disappointment, and a lot of tears because I feel like an absolute failure. Everyone makes it seem as though it's next to impossible to fail the OW, and I've seen people post who aren't crazy strong or have injuries that don't allow them to carry the gear as much, and they all seem to be able to do it. Am I just hopeless, or is there a chance that learning in a wet suit in warmer waters is just easier?

I don't seem to find a lot of posts online of people having done their entire OW in a drysuit, so I have no understanding of whether others are finding it just as difficult. I was also struggling to put my mask back on underwater because I was of course wearing a hood and three-finger gloves, making me feel like retarded lobster unable to get the strap back over my head, fumbling with it for over two minutes with ice water in my face.. I feel terrible for having to give up on my dream and have no idea where to go from here. The instructor was nice and all, but I think he got fed up with me towards the end, I was hoping he'd say something encouraging, like, that I can probably do it, but maybe learning in Iceland is just not the right path for me; but he didn't so maybe he thinks I'm not capable.. just so sad and hoping to hear something from people who've done both wet and drysuit and can maybe understand what I'm describing and offer up some advice on the learning conditions.
It sounds like you really want to scuba-dive, and have the right mindset and motivation.

Dry-suit is often an independent class, that is done AFTER one is already a certified scuba-diver. Dry-suit adds a lot of complexity and learning. However, in 2-3c water, I suppose there's no getting away from that. Traveling to a warmer locale, and certifying there might make a huge difference.

I have no drysuit experience, but it sounds like yours didn't fit properly.

IMO, your scuba-instructor should have given everyone a chance to breathe, and asking that everyone is okay and ready to dive, after bringing all your equipment to the water. When I dive, I sometimes swim about 100-yards to the spot I want to start the dive and myself or any dive-buddy, we always wait until our breathing is back to normal before starting the dive. If I start a dive breathing heavy, I'll often continue to breathe heavy underwater for much longer than if I had just waited on the surface for a minute.

For the CESA/manual inflate exercise, you were probably over-weighted, which I'd blame the instructor for, not the student.

As far as scuba-gear and weight, I get it, even as a male. I've made adjustments such that I don't have to carry heavy equipment all at once up a ladder, or all at once across a long walk. I carry my BCD first, then one tank at a time. Yeah, I can my equipment with two tanks attached, etc all at once, but why bother when I can take multiple trips. When I start getting leg-cramps mid-dive or my back complains after dives, what's the point of pretending to be Mr Strong-Man. Just because other people don't look tired or worn out, doesn't mean they aren't.

Around where I'm located, if a student fails to pass a multi-day course, but is close to passing, many places will continue to work with that student at no additional cost (within limits) to re-test and re-pass them on whatever they missed. It might also be worthwhile asking if the scuba-shop you're training at would let you practice with the equipment. Even if they say no, you're no worse off for asking.

edit: 3-days is not enough for open-water training by itself. Add dry-suit, and that's definitely not enough. I believe my open-water training (wetsuit) was 5-6 days. IMO, you didn't fail the class, the class failed you.
 

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