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?


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