You finally qualified your dive course and are ready to dive exotic, and even not so exotic, dive locations. Once divers are qualified they seldom think about keeping their skills fresh but it is something that we all need to do, never mind just think about.
Dive skills, like anything else become rusty over time. Have you ever tried riding a bicycle after years of not being on one, or speak a language that you were once fluent in after a long time of not speaking it?
Some skills get used often, like mask clearing and buoyancy control. For other skills, the last time that you encountered them might have been during your training. Think navigation and emergency skills like alternative air-source use and a Controlled Emergency Swimming Ascent, or even assembling and disassembling your dive gear.
While people with more dives under their (weight) belts might need little time in the water for their skills to become finely tuned again, someone who have done less dives (like holiday divers who complete 20 dives in 3 years) will need more practicing to remember their skills.
Something to remember is that if you are not actively practicing your skills, you are not staying on top of them. During your course you might have practiced them until it was ingrained in your muscle memory, but after a while of not using the skills we tend to forget them.
Dive, dive, dive. Getting into the water and diving is the best way to improve your skill and keep them up to date. Spending some time in the water with an experienced diver or, better yet a dive professional, would help you not only practice the skills but also to avoid learning any bad diving habits.
How do you know your skills are adequate and up to date? As yourself whether you and your buddy are able to perform all the skills for the dive that you are about to do. That includes everything from mask skills to navigating and emergency procedures.
Your dive skills are what makes you a safer diver, it makes you more comfortable in the water, helps to avoid pre-dive anxiety and, ultimately add to the enjoyment of the sport. Keeping them up to date by practicing – alone or with a dive professional is the best way to ensure that you keep enjoying every dive experience.
A final reminder: If you are not enjoying yourself, you are doing it wrong- even if you are just practicing some skills in the pool.
When last did you practice your skills?
*A version of this article first appeared at www.scubadiverlife.com