Have you ever wondered what makes a ‘good diver’? Ask 5 people and you get 10 different answers. Surely, when we all started, our instructor seemed to have unbelievable control under water. I remember going up and down, constantly in- and deflating my BCD while my instructor ‘stood’ in water, motionless, watching me with slightly amused eyes. As I then progressed in diving, I kept asking people what is a good diver?
Some people may say experience. And sure, experience helps becoming a good diver, but we have to differentiate. Sheer number of dives doesn’t say anything – I remember diving with a lady from Florida who had more than 450 dives – yet her buoyancy was terrible and she tried to inflate an SMB with a 5m line from 20m.
Other people would say good air consumption. Yes, with increased experience divers relax more and know how to breathe and behave in certain conditions (current, surge etc) but compare a big Caucasian male and a slim Asian female – surely the Asian female will have a lower air consumption, regardless of experience.
Finally, someone might say a good diver is someone who always remains calm. I think there we start to have something. When I picture a good diver, it is someone who moves slowly, with controlled and purposeful movements. Maybe along a wall, able to hold depth, able to get close to coral without ever toughing it, able to back away from it.
Taking it from here, below is a list of characteristics I find make a good diver:
Excellent buoyancy control – able to get very close to delicate coral, fans etc and back away easily as well as hold depth during dive and on safety stop with less than 5cm variation
Relaxed and confident yet humble. Egos are annoying at best and get you in trouble or worse in diving.
Stays within the limits of training: Surely that cave is big enough to just have a peek? Surely I venture in just a little bit more. Get the proper training and certification first.
Refreshes when necessary: skills might get forgotten (how did one perform that rescue exercise?), might have changed (egress from water) or new skills available (digital photography, sidemount). Even instructors need refreshers to keep their skills sharp. Also stays up-to-date on current trends in the industry, new training methods and up-and-coming new dive activities.
Very mindful, aware and alert: The good diver will predict a problem or situation before it happens and react in a calm and well-thought-through manner.
Obviously we could spend a long night on a beach adding more and more points to this list (and maybe we should) but I hope most of you will agree. So here is a little call for action – when was the last time you fine-tuned your buoyancy? Bit rusty on first aid? Not too sure how to do a search and rescue pattern? Want to learn about Underwater Meditation? Contact Splash and we will find a solution!