Scuba diving is a fantastic sport and the feeling of being weightless underwater is something that is hard to replicate in any other situation. It is also a very safe sport, with millions of dollars of research backing up the safety regulations and all scuba courses spend maximum time on teaching about safety and survival techniques. However, scuba diving is not for everyone and here are the most common five fears that stop people from enjoying this sport.
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Fear of Drowning: take it slow and get a great divemaster
This is an instinctive fear since we are terrestrial animals. Moreover, the combination of using the seemingly complicated gear and getting underwater (an alien environment) can be even more daunting. Unless your fear of drowning is a severe phobia, this fear can be overcome by taking the course slowly and staying in the shallow water. Personally, I believe that even a phobia can be addressed if you have the right trainer and the best way to go about it is being in warm, shallow water, undergoing the training slowly, and taking time to sit at the bottom to get accustomed to breathing underwater. This also slows down your breathing and you feel relaxed and have time to look around. One of the best ways to get over a fear is to start enjoying the beauty of marine life and you can see a lot of aquatic beauty once your nerves are calm and you have time to observe.
Suggested Read: How I got over my hydrophobia and learned diving
Fear of sharks: Study the facts and that we pose more danger to them than they to us
Okay, even I had this terror for many years until my recent scuba diving experience in Marsa Alam changed all that. This reason tops the list of fears and some popular Hollywood movies are responsible for creating this myth. For most people (including me), the idea of entering an environment in which potentially dangerous marine animals lurk is very scary and the low visibility of the dark blue depths adds to that fear. However, in most cases, it is our imagination rather than reality and in reality, very, very few marine animals are dangerous to people. There are some poisonous marine creatures but then it needs to be remembered that they are wild animals. You would not go and touch a lion in a forest. Instead, you would keep distance and observe from afar. The same thumb rule applies to potentially dangerous fishes which may be poisonous to touch. It also needs to be remembered here that most marine animals by now are very much aware of human threats and prefer avoiding us. The noisy bubbles that divers create every time they exhale are also of much annoyance to them. So the best way to get over this fear is to have a great buddy or divemaster, research thoroughly to get your own facts, and respect spatial boundaries.
You may also like: The gorgeous underwater world in Marsa Alam
Fear of running out of air underwater: Get used to breathing in the regulator
This is related to drowning and even many experienced divers have this fear at different levels. Since by instinct we know that we cannot breathe underwater, the fear of the air supply stopping suddenly (either because of equipment failure or that the diver simply runs out of the air) is quite a serious one. For the first time divers, breathing through the regulator stuck in the mouth is a strange one. I remember feeling very slight jaw ache from my mouth being frozen in a particular way. With practice, however, this went away but even after a few dives, I often felt strange that I just could not breathe normally without the regulator. The best way to overcome this fear is to simply get used to breathing in the regulator. Start on dry land or a swimming pool if necessary, learn good air management, including how to check your air gauge regularly and learn to trust your equipment. Modern technology makes sure that in case of a regulator failure, the equipment will provide too much air instead of too little.
Claustrophobia: Take it slow and respect your boundaries
The pressure of the water accelerates the feeling of being “trapped” underwater and can make some people feel claustrophobic. This can result in shallow rapid breathing to all-out panic attacks that lead a diver to ascend too quickly. In the end, the ascent turns out to be more dangerous than anything else and it is a fear which can affect your dive buddy as well. The best way out of this fear is to focus on your breathing, focus your mind on what you’re doing and seeing and remind yourself that you can surface at any time. Again as mentioned above, enjoying the experience eases away most of these fears and make sure not to push your own boundaries. If you feel too claustrophobic or have unbearable pain in your ears, then abandon the dive while you are relatively calm rather than risk panicking at depth.
The challenge of learning a complicated skillset
Scuba diving requires mastering quite a few essential skill sets. From mask clearing, hovering weightless, learning about the equipment, survival techniques, and studying the dive computer, all these new demands can seem daunting for some people. Many people who are not the best swimmers also get confused about whether they can dive or not. To begin with, you do not need superb swimming skills to dive. Basic surface swimming is enough. Remember that the oxygen in your body and equipment will make it difficult for you to sink. The challenge will be not to surface like a balloon and to equalize the pressure in your ears. So, if you would like to try diving, but are put off by its complicated skills, embrace the sport as a completely new challenge. Suba diving is also a non-competitive sport and the main criteria are to explore and enjoy the magnificent underwater world.
For more information on overcoming your scuba diving fears, check out this beautiful post by Backpackertravel. Read about one woman’s struggle to overcome her fear of scuba diving. This is very inspiring.
P.S – This blog post is part of the weekly series called the Cairo Chronicles. Every week, Maverickbird will try to focus on a new theme, emotion, and beauty of the expat life in the exciting, maddening city of Cairo.
RESPONSIBLE TRAVELING-BECAUSE I CARE