It’s not always easy

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.


happy students who made it through!
see through their smiles: i terrify them.  

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.


More happy students! A very achievable goal...
More happy students! A very achievable goal…

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,


had to give up on this one though.
had to give up on this one though.

3 thoughts on “It’s not always easy

  1. Sure it was hard work, especially for us old farts (top photo, old guy on the right) but between the panting and wheezing I was having a blast, and it was your drive and enthusiasm that helped me do it. Next thing you know, my lady friend, who hadn’t dove in 20+ years, comes down to the shop and gets re-certified and now she and I will be going on a dive vacation together this May.
    All I can say is…. “Thanks coach”!
    Yes, it was way worth it!

  2. Kyle Hickey

    This is a great story filled with truths and valuable insight. Maaike & I just checked this sight for the first time a couple days ago, love it, great writing & insight. Greetings from Holland from both of us.

    1. Hello Kyle and Maaike! Big hugs to the newlyweds. In case you didn’t notice, this post was inspired by YOU, and our talk in the dive shop over cheese and bread after our night dives. Got me to thinking, which got me to writing. So glad you two are together in Holland, hope to see you both again in the (not so far) future.

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