I may be shooting myself in the foot with this post. But recently a student of mine confided in me that taking his Open Water Certification was not easy, and it was not fun.
He said, it’s misleading to tell people it’s fun. It’s scary and hard, and challenging, physically and mentally.
This is coming from someone who has done quite a few dives since his certification a few months ago. Truly someone who has come to love the sport, and enjoy it. Someone who understands the merit of the original struggle.
Sometimes I do have students who come to their open water class thinking it will be a breeze. Those students immediately find that is not the case. A written exam, a swim test, talk of physics and of course signing enough liability releases to start to wonder what you’ve got yourself into. Occasionally those students give up…they never finish their certification and I never hear from them again.
Mostly, they adjust their expectation and find that putting in the work makes the end goal that much more satisfying.
A certain amount of trust has to be placed in their instructor. It’s a long and bumpy road to the Open Water Certification, and it’s important to have a guide you trust.
Again, I may be shooting myself in the foot. I don’t mean to sound like this is an impossible task, it most definitely isn’t. Students come with many ideas about what scuba diving is or will be like. These ideas come from the media, movies, …nature documentaries, personal imagination. I remember my thoughts about diving was that it would make me feel claustrophobic and anxious, and there I was not wrong.
It was a learned experience that I had to become adjusted to, and my open water instructor was amazing in leading me through the learning.
The same aforementioned student said that he loved his Advanced Open Water class, and we even spent a recent Wednesday evening doing a night specialty. He said the fun comes in when the basics are learned, and the behavior has become second nature. But taking the Open Water class is only fun the way riding a beach cruiser up a steep hill is fun….it’s a hard, sweaty struggle, until you get to the top, and suddenly the view was worth it.
Teaching students is not easy either. A teacher must remember to remain empathetic (not sympathetic, there lies a great difference between those two words) to their students feelings and worries, while at the same time showing enough confidence to assure a student that the skill can and will be done. I know how it sounds when I tell OW students that we will be taking our mask off and breathing for a minute underwater without it. They look at me like I’m nuts….but the moment when they successfully pull their mask back on and I high five them or hug them….pretty much melts my heart with pride.
We really can do it. And the fun does come too. Eventually 😉
Open Water dives 1, 2 and 3 tomorrow….with all the confidence in my students and the accompanying anxiety to climb the hill together,