SCUBA Fears, Busted!
SCUBA diving is a fantastic sport (I know I am biased). It gives people an amazing opportunity to experience the underwater world in the most intimate way, and you’ll see and experience things that not many other people have had the privilege to see. However, there are not that many people that take the plunge! For some people the idea of submerging below the water with lots of alien kit on is nerve wracking! There are lots of fears and worries that are often associated with diving that mean people don’t ever try SCUBA, but I need to tell you, you are really missing out!
I remember when I took my first breath underwater. I had so many thoughts running through my mind ‘what if the kit doesn’t work? How on earth am I going to be able to breath? This looks like it is going to be really difficult?’. However, within moments of submerging, I was hooked and years later, I am now teaching people how to dive and take their first underwater breaths!
In this post, I will cover some the main fears I have come across that stop people from trying SCUBA diving and give some tips on how you can go about overcoming these so that you can get under the waves.
Fear of drowning
It’s a totally natural fear: we’re land animals, not aquatic ones, so being below the surface of a pool, with lots of weird kit in your mouth and on your back can be daunting.
One of the best ways to deal with this fear is to take things slowly at your own pace and staying nice and shallow. Don’t push yourself too far out of your comfort zone and have trust in your equipment. Don’t go into the deeper part of the pool until you feel ready. Try taking some time to sit quietly on the bottom and get used to breathing underwater and keep close to your lovely instructor. They will be used to having nervous newbie divers and will help to reassure and relax you.
Fear of sharks and other marine animals
Although you won't see any of these in the pool, some people find the idea of entering the home of sharks unpleasant, and imagine man eating machines lurking in the depths, waiting to get them.
Sharks are not scary! They are far more scared of us than we are of them and humans kill millions of sharks a year vs a handful of shark attacks on humans, often attributed to mistaken identity (surfers on the surface look like a tasty seal to a shark!). These fears of mindless man eaters are unfortunately stoked by the media, who portray sharks in an unfavourable light. There are very, very few marine animals that are dangerous to people, and attacks against scuba divers are really rare. Most animals, including sharks, avoid SCUBA divers as to them, we are really noisy, blowing bubbles and clanging about. So you really don’t need to worry about Jaws coming out of the deep to find you.
People can get the feeling of being “trapped” underwater, which can make some people feel claustrophobic. This can make people feel discomfort or all-out panic.
The best thing to do to help overcome this is try to calm your mind. Focus on your breathing; remind yourself that you can surface at any time. Keep your mind on what you’re doing and seeing, rather than on the water between you and the surface. Take it easy and don’t push yourself too far too quickly and let yourself slowly get accustomed to the feeling of being underwater. Many people find that all the amazing things they are seeing underwater soon take their mind off any feelings of claustrophobia.
Fear of failure
SCUBA diving is unlike anything most people have ever tried before. There are a lot of new skills that you learn that are like nothing you would ever do on dry land, and this can seem really daunting for some people. This makes people worry that they will fail and look foolish. People often put high demands on themselves and get frustrated if they don’t get things first time.
If you want to try diving but you’re afraid it will be too complicated for you, remind yourself that it's a new skill and it will take time and practice to master. Embrace the idea of being a newbie and enjoy the challenge of learning something entirely new. Worrying about learning something new is normal – you’re not alone, all divers have been there!
I hope that this helps reduce some of your worries about diving. It really is the most amazing sport that gives you an experience of the underwater world like no other!
Happy diving :)