When the thought of taking your mask off underwater just freaks you out

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Eric Sedletzky

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When I was a DM in training helping the instructor with OW classes I was often assigned the task of working with students who had difficulty doing no mask breathing.
I would start them with small incremental mask floods whist continuing normal breathing. They could take as long as they needed.
I would get them to the point where they had a fully flooded mask and were still breathing smoothly. Then I would have them remove their mask slowly and they would discover that they already were breathing with water all around their nose and it made no difference at that point whether the mask was on or off. If they froze up and choked I would have them shut their eyes and concentrate without any visual stimulation and once their breathing smoothed out they could slowly open their eyes. If they still froze up or choked out I would allow them to plug their nose and shut their eyes with no mask until they got their breathing under control, then they could let go of their nose and slowly open their eyes while still breathing.
I think no mask breathing freak out is 99% psychological anyway.
I had them doing it in less than 10 minutes like old pro’s. I also had them pull their masks off several times during training so it became second nature.
Sometimes the ocean training no-mask dives sent a few of them back to square one with the ice cold salt water and all the stuff going on around them with surge, urchins, fear of the unknown, sharks, weird looking fish, low vis, etc. many or most of them had never been in the ocean before.
 

johndiver999

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Taking the mask off in clear warm water is kinda fun. When there are small colorful fish darting around close to you, I swear the colors are more vibrant with no mask on.

However, flooding a mask or taking it off, when the water is below 45 degrees is vastly different, always painful to me and it requires a lot more practice and confidence to deal with. I hate having my eye balls frozen! Cold water is so much harder!
 

TMHeimer

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I just returned after 3 weeks and read really only the OP. Though I skimmed through others to see some ideas, rsingler explained it exactly. And mentioned several ways to overcome the no mask problem. I've always felt if you can breathe in and out of mouth or nose separately-- in air-- you should be able to do that in water. I know that's not true for some, obviously. Those of us who had a lot of "water" experience prior to taking OW course find it hard to believe (no matter how often you've seen the problem).
 

Gareth J

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I used to tell students that there are skills that are required, such as mask removal and walking backward in your fins during a shore entry, but once you get certified you may never need those skills. I have nearly 2500 dives and have never taken my mask off in the water and walk into the surf holding my fins.

I smashed a mask after racking up 15 minutes of stops on a dive off St Marlo. I did a mask swap during the decompression stops with one of the divers who had finished their stops.

Cracking dive.
 
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