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Again it’s time for the British Dive Show, this time in London. Not only is it a great place to plan your next diving holiday, whether it’s a live aboard, a week at your favourite centre or just scoping out the newest destinations, it’s also a great way for our guests to meet up after a long cold (and rather wet) winter.  As it gets to this time of year, there are lots of messages appearing on Facebook discussing the wheres and whens of meeting up at the show as people use the weekend as they prepare to get that holiday feeling without the expense, or the suntan!

This time I have handed the mantel to other members of staff as I actively avoid a week of rain and public transport issues. However, it also means I don’t get to eat all that yummy food, but that’s good for the waist-line I keep telling myself!

So for those of us still in Sharm, it’s business as usual. For me, that means another dip in the bay.  Day one of an Open Water course is my task, and it’s a slow morning for me as my student is tasked with watching a few DVD’s to get the day started. My man today has done repeated introductory dives, but just never had the time to do a whole course, so it should be easy (well, that’s the kiss of death right there).

As we complete the swim and float with relative ease – it is the Red Sea after all – it’s onto the proper water work. Kitted up we enter the water and start the first confined session. Regulator cleared, Alternate Air source used, it’s just the mask to go. And here is where we hit a problem.

Who knows what was waiting to meet us?

Now this is a problem we experience all the time, and it’s nothing to do with the hatred of water in the mask that you are thinking. It’s the inability to breathe out of the nose when underwater. It’s a very confusing problem, as it seems completely illogical to everyone apart from the poor student it is affecting at the time. On the surface it’s not a problem, ever. It’s just some peoples biological reaction to being submerged in water and it’s one of the harder problems to crack. I remember when I was a new instructor and came across this for the first time. I spend ages convinced I was somehow briefing wrong and it was my fault. It took a very kind, and more experienced instructor to explain the phenomenon. And the only thing that can help is time.

So I settle myself in, get comfy and just let him do his thing…. Repeatedly!  My suggestions of humming when exhaling (you can only hum if your mouth is shut and the noise can only come out of the nose) goes unheeded, as does every other method I can think of. After half an hour, my student is getting cold and tired and asks to go back in.  That’s his call and so off we go back to the centre.

As we debrief, my student declares his frustration and starts debating if this diving stuff is for him. This is where I remember I have one last trick up my sleeve. Grabbing his mask and snorkel, I hand it to him with strict instructions. Go back to the hotel; get in the pool and practice. If he can master it while wearing a snorkel, then with a reg will be no problem. This is also a test of how much they want to carry on. Some will not bother taking it home, some will take it and pretend to make and effort. Others, and I hoping this is where my student falls, will spend the afternoon coughing and spluttering and keep on trying until they have cracked it.

Me (and you) will have to wait and see…..

Who knows what was waiting to meet us?

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