After having some time to reflect on our PADI open water diver certification adventure, I wanted to share a few things that I learned along our journey that were really helpful to our success.
- Taking the Discover Scuba class is worth every penny. We opted to take the Discover Scuba class before starting the open water diver certification process. And, we had to do it all over, we’d absolutely do it again. The Discover Scuba class was immensely beneficial in getting used to breathing from a regulator, swimming with a bunch of gear on and mentally working it through that you can breathe underwater and you’re not going to drown.
- Invest in a neoprene mask strap from the beginning. This $12.50 addition has made a WORLD of difference in comfort during our dives. It has Velcro on one of the long sides and is designed to cover the sticky, rubber mask strap that gets twisted, balled up and tangled in your hair. This makes putting your mask on and taking it off much, much less aggravating.
- Solving the struggle to clear a flooded mask. Josh didn’t have any problems clearing a flooded mask, but I struggled immensely with it. In fact, it was my major stumbling block throughout the certification process that took me quite a while (and the help of a bunch of instructors, YouTube videos and practice) to master. The problem was that I was inhaling water through my nose when I attempt to clear my flooded mask. No matter what I did or tried to do, I couldn’t stop from inhaling a small amount of water when I started to exhale to clear the mask. The inhalation of water made me cough and the coughing prevented me from exhaling in order to clear the mask. The whole “just don’t inhale water” instruction just wasn’t working for me. I was frustrated after spending hours in the water, trying to will myself not to inhale water through my nose, but, I was committed to mastering it and wouldn’t give up. If I was struggling, someone else in the history of time must have struggled with the same thing, right? So, I started researching. And what I found was that my struggle is a common struggle among “nose-breathers.” And it boils down to soft palate control. Listen, I’m no doctor or scientist, so I’m not going to profess to understand the inner-workings of the human body, but, what I will say is that after I did some research and practice with soft palate control, I was (hopefully!) able to stop inhaling water and successfully clear my mask with no difficulty. For anyone who may struggle, here’s what FINALLY helped me understand what was happening and how to deal with it: Help for a nose breather?