Back to my comfort zone today and I’m on the second day of an open water course. My students are a couple of girls who have got bored of the beach and fancied a bit of diving. They actually completed the Discover Scuba Diving program yesterday and loved it so much they have signed up for the full Open Water course (waving bye bye to the beach as they did so!)
After completing a bit of theory we are ready to hit the water and we start off with the mask skills, which posed us a few problems yesterday, but no more than normal!  However, aware that this is stepping things up a little, I start with a trick I learned a long time ago, where I get students to bend forward and breathe with just their face in the water with no mask on, and carry on doing so until they are comfortable. For some, this is instantaneous, for others it can be a long time. Why would I do this? Read on…..
So when we get to the ‘breathe for one minute underwater with no mask skill, my ladies start to shows signs of mild unhappiness, shall we say. The usual recommendations (tip your head to one side to avoid nose bubbles, think of pretty fish, close you eyes if you like) are shared and after a few attempts, it appears that one girl in particular is struggling.  Student A: “I don’t like it”. Me: “You don’t have to like it, just be able to do it”. Student A: “But I don’t like it” Me: “I’ve never had anyone come up and say how fantastic it was and could they do it again for fun”. This time, before we go down, I play my secret weapon… Me: “But you’ve already done this skill” Student A: “I’d remember if I had, and I for sure have not”. Me: “What was the first thing you did when you got in the sea today?”. Student A: “Put my head in the water and breathed”. Me: “Ah ha. And where was your mask?”. Cue light bulb in Student A’s head. She had indeed already done it, just on the surface, where the water moves a lot more. Giving herself a mental slap, she descend and guess what…..completes it first time with not a flinch! Student B follows suit and before I know it we are swimming around and pointing out today’s visitors; the napoleon, pipefish, a moray eel and some very cute baby Nemo all make a fleeting appearance. Feeling very pleased with themselves, we finish the day a lot further on than I though we would!

And the mask issue? Just as well they mastered it, cos Student B knocked into Student A in a particularly enthusiastic fish pointing episode her mask flooded (jury is out as to whether it was knocked or was due to the immediate fit of giggles that followed! Either way, what better way to learn the value of a skill!

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