Can I be a scuba diver?
Occasionally when discussing the course involved to become a scuba diver, some will wonder if they have what it takes to actually scuba dive. With concerns such as claustrophobia or a fear of being unable to breath (granted breathing underwater is not natural), these concerns may seem legitimate. However the reality of scuba diving is quite the opposite when looking at these two main concerns.
Claustrophobia : is the fear of having no escape and being closed in small spaces or rooms. Scuba diving is the opposite.
Instead of feeling boxed in, it is the closest thing a human could experience to flying effortlessly. Have you ever imagined being Superman (or Superwoman) flying through the air, up and around objects, hovering like a astronaut in space. This was the initial feeling I had drift-diving in Cozumel. coasting along in a current keeping perfectly buoyant and subtly adjusting the buoyancy in my BCD jacket to accommodate approaching coral heads and terrain. I certainly was not feeling boxed in. However some very low (limited) visibility conditions may be uncomfortable for inexperienced divers, but training in the limited visibility class can prepare a diver to have the right equipment and instruction to comfortably navigate through these conditions. But in most diving conditions with visibility at 10 feet or more, scuba diving is like levitating, free from gravity.
Inability to breathe or have enough air : The air that you breathe through a scuba regulator is delivered to you as you start your inhalation. If you have ever snorkeled , The snorkel (air-tube) is a fairly narrow tube that extends from the mouth (approximately 12-13 inches) upward out to the surface (of course) to breathe the air as your face is in the water hopefully with a good (sealed) mask on to see. As a snorkeler breathes, there is a subtle effort needed to pull (breathe) the air into your mouth, approximately 1/2 pound of pressure is exerted on the snorkel and the air-flow as you breath. This sucks, I mean literally you have to work a little bit as a snorkeler to get a good full breathing pattern. Breathing off of a scuba regulator is much easier.
A scuba regulator is designed to deliver air at ambient (surrounding) pressure. This means that whether you are at 5 feet, 10, 30, 50 or a 100 feet (depth of water) while scuba diving, the regulator is working to take the air pressure form the tank (whether it is full or down to 200 lbs of pressure) and deliver it to the diver on demand, compensated for the surrounding pressure. This means easy breathing at any depth. Balanced vs. Unbalanced regulators do have a slight difference in performance as the balanced regulators tend to be smoother and better performing at depth / air pressure variances.
Other areas of concern :
Age and orPhysical Condition or Shape: We have trained divers form age 10 to 77 and their age was not a factor in becoming a proficient diver. Managing the gear and lugging it may be more of a challenge, however establishing a convenient method of transporting gear and asking for assistance (from the Dive Master or other helpful divers) is not unusual or a negative thing. Many divers are very willing and able to assist if need. Being in good medical shape is fairly important, however some people with certain medical conditions are able to dive (with a Physicians approval) as long as their condition is manageable and predictable to control. Diver Alert Network (DAN) is an excellent resource to utilize in answering any questions about health conditions. http://www.diversalertnetwork.org .
One of our more animated divers we have trained had only one leg and didn’t consider diving until we talked him into it (taking class with his son). We worked with him to determine the best method of transporting his gear, donning the equipment and then determining the proper weight amount (and placement of the weight over his system) he became very comfortable as a diver and was able to master good buoyancy. Working through the learning curve with physical challenges eventually will allow a diver (with differing physical disabilities) to scuba-dive in a peaceful gravity-free environment that can be quite liberating.
It is best as a diver to be in good shape, just like any physical activity, the better shape you are in the better/easier the experience. But with proper training and assistance most people are able to dive in.
The most important consideration to becoming a safe scuba diver first and foremost is simply your desire to be a scuba diver. You have to want to do this, not for someone else, but for you. If you have the desire and willingness to learn we can teach ANYONE to be a safe scuba diver.