SCUBA Diving: A Lifetime Lifestyle

By Chris Kostman

Originally published in TailWinds, November/December 1992

In these pages SCUBA diving may be billed as the "sport du jour," but in reality SCUBA diving can and should be thought of as a lifetime lifestyle. Although the techniques of diving are not as easily learned, remembered, and reapplied as, say, learning to ride a bicycle, they are a group of skills that one can use throughout a lifetime in a wide variety of settings. And in so doing, one adds a new element of excitement, variety, and enlightenment to one's life!

Why SCUBA dive? Here are three of the innumerable good reasons:

  1. It's a little known fact that fully 90% of the world's different living things live in the water, so if you want to learn more about the ecosystem in which we live and increase your repertoire of flora and fauna that you can name on sight, you'd better get in the water.
  2. NASA shuttle trips notwithstanding, the undersea world is truly the last frontier for us earth-bound people (at least in this day and age), so diving is our last real opportunity to go "where no one has gone before."
  3. Diving adds a whole new dimension to your vacation-planning. Why not skip the crowds at Disneyland and bop down to the Gulf of Baja instead? You'll have a blast, see incredible and unpeopled sites, and maybe even bring back photos of your family surrounded by sea creatures (instead of with psuedo-creatures like Mickie and Minnie)! Plus you'll be so awe-struck by what you see that you'll actually want to pose for pictures!

So how does one learn to SCUBA dive? You have two goals in this department: One is to "get certified" and two is to GET EXPERIENCED . Certification by an agency like PADI, NAUI, or YMCA allows you to rent SCUBA tanks and equipment and/or to get your air tanks filled essentially around the world. Basic certification courses are run through dive shops, the YMCA, and at tourist-type diving sites around the globe. The quick and easy courses usually involve two evenings of on-land instruction, two evenings of in-pool, hands-on instruction, one day at the beach for more hands-on work, then a final day at the beach for "the check-out dive." If you pass the written tests and can perform the necessary exercises designed to show that you have control of your equipment and are reasonably comfortable in the water, you receive your certification. Then you are turned loose on the world to dive however and wherever you please. One important tip: before embarking on this endeavour, be sure that you can make a long-range commitment to developing your skills, getting more experienced in a wide variety of situations, and always using good judgement. Mother Nature doesn't like Jokers, after all, especially underwater. And seriously consider enrolling in a longer and more "difficult" certification course in the first place and/or return to your dive school for more advanced courses. Some programs may take up to 15 weeks, but are worth it for the extra measure of safety, control, and preparedness that they instill in their dive students.

One last note: Do not let your fitness level, age, or any other perceived "barrier" stop you from trying out SCUBA diving! One need not be a great swimmer or athlete to become a competent and enthralled diver. In fact, "comparing diving to swimming is liking comparing a stroll through an art museum to running a marathon," someone once put it. Words to live by and, hopefully, words to inspire. Best of luck!