Can you learn to scuba dive if you cannot swim?

Ask this question to many a dive instructor,and invariably the answer will be in the negative. 

But, in actual fact there is more than meets the eye. 
And ,facts are albeit begrudgingly, there are actually many non-swimmers who are certified scuba divers !

And to be honest,it isn't really much surprise in this trivia.

Now the requirements before one can be accepted into a scuba diving course is that the enrollee needs to demonstrates proficiency in the water by being able to thread water for approximately 10 minutes,and be able to swim at least 30 meters with any style...

    AGAIN BUT..!!    Surprisingly,there are in fact a lot of scuba divers who cannot swim a stroke if their lives depended on it! No joke!  I personally happen to  know a few of them. So if i was asked ,  ,can a person who cannot swim learn to scuba dive? I will say yes- although it involves a few other factors.

   .The whole reason for the requirement to know how to swim is mainly because,it is believed that a non swimmer may not have the level of confidence in water to participate in a scuba course. 

Non swimmers are usually very uncomfortable when they are in a deep water environment with a high anxiety level which understandably is because they cannot float themselves causing real phobia of drowning.It is a sense of not being in control!

   So they might  freak out(panic) more  easily and risk  drowning ,to put it bluntly,but that doesn't attest to the fact that there are so many non swimmers who are bona fide certified scuba divers..

 Let's look at it from another light, scuba diving is actually a equipment intensive activity. When a person learns how to dive, they are in effect learning how to use the scuba diving equipment safely and properly. 

And actually in a real diving scenario, very seldom is it called upon for the diver to use their ability to swim naturally. They have the Buoyancy jacket which they inflate to float,and when they dive underwater all they do is let the air out and they  start to sink. 

And all the swimming is done via the feet with swim fins . That is all there is. But of course while they are underwater,it is important that they are able to control their buoyancy so they will not crash into the reef and damage the delicate environment.

  Skills of buoyancy which they learn to master during the entry level course,and any good dive instructor worth his money will be able to train them to adequately handle themselves controlling their diving profiles and knowing exactly what is safe and what is not.

 Also ,before they are signed off as certified scuba divers who can dive,they would have demonstrated to their  instructor their ability to be in control of their mental state and usage of dive gear at all times while they are underwater in a real scuba dive!.

 Knowing exactly how to use the diving equipment to sink  ,float or swim underwater neutrally , and in full control.!  
     Therefore back to the question, can a non swimmer learn all this?

  Personally from  a scuba diving instructor's point of view after so many years of teaching and post hundreds of certifications, encountering so many variation in mindsets ,from gutsy to the timid, and the naturals to the hopelessly ackward and clumsy.

So to honestly answer that question - I may respond with a  "Why Not ? Non swimmer but can clearly distinguish possession of high aptitude in acquiring or picking up skill sets.
I will tend to say yes..

But it does boil down to the individual , non swimmers are more edgy when it comes to swimming without swim aids but if the person is quite comfortable in-water,then there is every reason they can learn and complete the scuba course..

    After all, in the beginning,the student gets to practice breathing underwater with scuba gear in chest deep water .
Then they get to practice using the swim fins to learn to propel themselves,again in very shallow water. And then , still in shallow water, they learn how to properly control their buoyancy and how before they will be brought in to a slightly deeper environment..

By that time,they will have learnt how to use the buoyancy jacket and the breathing apparatus so there will usually be no problems.. It is all about the coordination of the individual's hand ,feet and mental awareness and the scuba equipment

Although , the main international dive certification agencies impose rules whereby the requirements for eligibility to participate in learning a scuba course is a basic ability to swim without swim aids, but in real life, it isn't that straightforward.

 There are many dive instructors who may conveniently bypass this requirement by placing their own standards of assessment and eligibility. 
As was mentioned earlier ,there are many certified leisure divers who cannot swim without swim aids ie..Fins,life jackets ,flotation device yet they can still scuba dive because they can demonstrate proficiency in the usage of the dive equipment.  

And incredibly, some of them turn out to be  much better divers in comparison to the newbie divers who can swim but  who lack the mindset of calm and alertness , so important in the making of a good diver.
 Again, it is all in the proper use of the dive equipment and having the necessary knowledge of safety in all regards ,  pertaining to scuba diving.
Like understanding the workings of dive gear and knowing how to tell if the gear is in good condition or unsafe. 
Knowing your own limitations in terms of the environments you scuba dive at. 
Knowing your own physical state or fitness and also your mental state,thereby being able to tell what you can and cannot cope with in the dive profiles.
This is in accordance with the level of skill you have mastered ,thoroughly at ease with your equipment and your ability to use them dexterously,controlling when to float ,when to sink,how to be in a neutral state of buoyancy ,proper breathing methods with the breathing apparatus,reading and understanding the gauges and knowing exactly how to react in any given emergency situations.

 And maybe somewhere along the line ,you pick up the skill of swimming without any equipment,but meantime you can take up the course to learn how to scuba dive.

Meaning ,it all boils down to the individual's mindset, regardless of whether you can swim or not,if you are one who can be cool as a cucumber in high anxiety situations,you could learn how to scuba dive 
Being able to swim and being able to scuba dive are two distinctly separate type of skill-set.
The former is mainly dependent upon your physical ability and coordination , whereas the latter is about acquiring the knowledge and skills with using of  diving  equipment . 
After all,you cannot scuba dive without scuba gear , being a good swimmer or not doesn't factor into the equation.!

 So again ,can a person who cannot swim learn how to scuba dive? What do you think?

why scuba diving is popular!

Scuba diving as a popular recreational or leisure activity really took off in popularity during the 90s. Thanks partly to so many TV programs with the vivid and brilliant visuals of fantastically colorful coral reefs and its inhabitants and personal testimonies of bona fide users of S C U B A Self Contained Underwater Breathing Apparatus.

 It was not until the 60s that diving as an activity for recreation began to take form.Before that, underwater domain was restricted to naval commandos or commercial divers using bulky equipment to stay underwater for any extended period to either demolish or construct something. However, the major disadvantage then was that the equipment consisted of very heavy set up, made from metal and usually attached to the surface by an umbilical life support with which the diver gets their breathing supply from.
 Then came SCUBA.! Jacques Cousteau, the diver liberator, the man credited with inventing the Aqualung, where a diver goes underwater totally independent of any hoses attached to the surface,thereby giving the diver freedom of movement to swim a larger area,free of restrictions because they bring their air supply along with them underwater but with a minor disadvantage of a limited air supply. Hence self contained, the diver brings their underwater breathing apparatus on their backs.

 Scuba diving as a popular recreational or leisure activity really took off in popularity during the 90s. Thanks partly to so many TV programs with the vivid and brilliant visuals of fantastically colorful coral reefs and its inhabitants and personal testimonies of bona fide divers who have done it and was smitten by it. Also by then, the various international Scuba certification agencies had hitherto enough time to refine their training and instructional methodology to a very high competent level of safety and enjoyment especially to many who have never dived before and extremely curious as to the safety aspects and enjoyment factor of diving as a extracurricular activity.

 Diving certification agencies had recognized this potential niche of scuba and taken full advantage of the opportunity to design it in a way to open up this tremendously enjoyable recreation to the masses by creating a syllabus that progressively trains according to individual abilities and fitness level.

 There used to be a time where you would have needed a few months and a very strenuous training regime to enable you to confidently dived into the ocean fully prepared,physically and psychologically to handle the challenges or situations should they arise.

 But that had preempted many from taking up the sport. Not any longer. Now anybody with a desire to learn and who possess average swim skills and even physical shape can participate and learn how to have fun underwater safely. All dive agencies have similar training structures, from the very basic to highly advanced level.

 It has been noticed that many who take up the sport merely wish to just immerse themselves underwater enjoying the sensation of the ability to breathe in that environment for an extended time beyond normal and having a blast swimming alongside.

NO booze , no strenous activity ( no sex??) ,no hot shower after diving-seriously!

Most divers after a full day of scuba diving , having done multiple dives , the moment they clear their equipment,they will walk over to the nearest bar and grab a beer  . Big Mistake ! If you are diver who knows your nitrogen absorbtion and elimination theory  ( which you should otherwise, you would not have got your dive certification.) anyway .many tend to forget that the nitrogen gases you have absorbed into your body needs a bit of time for it to leave.And the worst thing is that before it can actually out-gas itself , the worst mistake one can do is to introduce some substance to accelerate it into bubble form.

 Alcohol can do that to you. Beginner divers , take note , in the 1st place  , do you remember your instructor informing you or cautioning you on the dangers of going scuba diving with alcohol in your system  Dont drink and dive !!
  Well , at the same token ,it is also not a good idea to drink alcohol after diving. Dont drink immediately after diving!
Thats is not to say you should not drink at all . Actually it shouldn't be a problem if you have a drink or two or three if you
put in a period of about a minimum of 3- 4 hours. before you hit the booze. You wanna tank up , that's fine .but it will be more prudent to let  more of the nitrogen gases out of your system 1st. If you remember your dive theory , then you will recall the decompression sickness warning. How divers can get DCS , but the manual doesn't cover the topic of boozing after scuba diving.
  The thing is, if you have been doing multiple dives in one day , your body would have absorbed some residue nitrogen during the dives. Remember your dive theory when you learnt  about the 21 % / 79% mix of the atmospheric air us humans breathe. And how that is compressed into the scuba tank. So essentially scuba tank air is the same air we breathe to live.
  21% being oxygen which is not a problem but the other 79% being nitrogen gas which is a problem , especially when we breathe it in a pressurized environment , namely underwater. Well , to make a long story short , divers absorbed the excess N2o in their bodies and need time to let it out-gas when they are back on land. If managed properly , no problem at all, but if there is insufficient knowledge to minimize the risk, it is very likely risking DCS. (decompression sickness) in mild cases , can be excruciatingly painful like dislocated joints , and in extreme cases can be fatal causing heart attacks or brain embolism.
 And drinking alcohol immediately after diving , especially if the amount of absorbed N2o is substantial , can cause DCS.
 Alcohol  increases  your heart rate . Thus making your blood (full of N2o) pump faster. Acceleration of blood circulation risk the N20 come out of solution  and become gaseous instead of the soluble state it was in prior to that.Becoming gaseous means changing into a foamy state or bubbles that might block circulation to your extremities or worst the vital organs . Thats dangerous , can cause pain or paralysis or death in extreme cases.
 And so simple to avoid this DCS condition. Among the other stuff beginners learnt in the dive theory about this and how to minimize the risks , another element here is dont drink immediately after diving . Also not a good idea to do any strenuous activity after diving. Common sense will tell you that that will speed up your circulation rate and again accelerate the absorbed N2o.  How showers are a big NO.! Warm is OK but really immersing yourself in a tub full of really hot water, that's just asking for trouble!Common sense again ! Hot water ! Thats heat on you body , especially steaming hot ,on your body , the gas may evaporate into bubbles . DCS !It is all so simple to avoid , just give yourselves a decent time  interval of at least 3 hours or more and then you can do what you like. Except flying in a plane. That needs at least 18 hours of rest time before you can be fairly certain there is no more N2O in your system before you can board a flight with a lower pressure environment. Well, you should  know that already during your dive course.

 Just remember immediately after diving..No Booze ..  No heavy sports hot baths or hot showers and Hmmmm should i mention NO SEX !!( Heck this is strenuous activity , isn't it ? Of maybe if you insist , then go slow and easy,that is probably a prudent idea)
  The point is , just anything that makes your blood pump faster and heats up your  body , try not to do it ,especially if you have been doing a lot of scuba diving in that day.

Above is my opinion, but the experts in Dive Medicine have different opinions. General consensus of course is that it is risky but others maintained there is not as yet enough data to support the conclusion that alcohol is dangerous to divers.

What the Experts say!
DAN and Alert Divers and Dive Research: Different experts opinions on Alcohol and Scuba diving


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