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Practice Makes Perfect!
By David Holt NAUI #15465
Some of the best selling books found on the New York Times best-seller list advocate self help. These titles promise wealth. a better sex life, happiness, and world peace; "follow these guidelines and all you desire can be yours" is the implied wisdom.
If only it was that simple. Self improvement requires dedication, hard work, constant inner dialog - and a plan. As a diver, although it is sometimes difficult to gauge your improvement, with time, you can see results. Air consumption is an excellent tool to use to measure your diving skills and gauge improvement. Refining your buoyancy, perfecting your fin kick, and proper weighting all have an affect on Air Consumption. In short, "If your air consumption is going down, your skills are going up!"
What are the rewards for divers seeking self improvement? A sense of well being, physically, mentally, and spiritually. Self peace and confidence while exploring the underwater world. Longer bottom times is the first step to achieving this goal.
There is no better way to improve your diving skills than by diving regularly. By doing so, you keep your skills fresh. diving involves motor skills which, when repeated on a regular basis, become familiar and comfortable. Unless you play golf regularly, you're not likely to get better scores. Unless you dive a couple of times a month, your buoyancy skills, buddy skills and diving fitness are not likely to improve.
There are several ways to maintain an active dive schedule. Dive Site Six! Although this dive site is not as good as the Florida Keys, it's a whole lot cheaper. it provides valuable experience rigging, equalizing your ears, navigation, buoyancy control, etc. Dive Steamboat Cove! How many divers can say that they have been inside the cavern? dive Copper Canyon! Many regular divers find sun glasses, watches, rings, wallets, etc. Scheduling a dive trip is another exciting way to improve your skills. Diving over a few days with a number of dives, your familiarity with your equipment and environment will jump dramatically. I realize that some of the trips we schedule fill quite rapidly and sometimes you can't get a spot on the trip, but it you plan early and adequately prepare for the trip, you should have no problem securing a spot.
Buoyancy Control - the art of 3-D movement with proper weighting and breathing. Buoyancy control is one of the most difficult but important skills to master. You first learned the skill in your Basic Scuba Diver course, but for many divers, it's a skill that is quickly forgotten. by learning to control your buoyancy you will extend your time underwater by reducing your air consumption and enjoy diving that is effortless, relaxing, and more fun. Once you have reached this "effortless" diving, you can begin to enjoy the inner peace experience that all divers eventually reach.
Other ways to improve your buoyancy skills include using breath control to adjust your position in the water, distributing your weight evenly, and streamlining yourself and your equipment for better efficiency while swimming. It is important to avoid over weighting because it contributes to fatigue, rapid air consumption and damage to marine life. Consider a familiarization dive or "Dial in" dive for the first dive of your dive trip. This allows you to set your weights for the entire trip. Remember, you need to set your weight belt each and every dive trip, since many factors affecting buoyancy change with each diving situation. Most of the more experienced divers set their weights according to their gear. for example, I wear 6 pounds in salt water with a Polartec suit, 10 pounds in salt water with a Polartec suit and a 6 mm shorty, 16 pounds in salt water with a full 6 mm suit, etc.
Photographers know that in order to get close the their subject, they must fit in to the environment - become one with nature and the subject. Practicing perfect buoyancy makes you more a part of the environment, allowing you sneak up and get a closer look at your favorite fish.
Another good skill to improve your diving is self awareness. As a guideline, listen to yourself. If you feel uneasy about a particular dive, consider the reasons. Our minds have a wonderful way of reminding us that we may be stepping out of our comfort zone by producing stress. diving should be challenging yet relaxing. when it ceases to be fun, it's time to review why. By learning to listen to yourself you will increase your performance and safely.
While doing these things won't bring you wealth, happiness, a better sex life, or world peace, they will improve your enjoyment of life itself. Remember, improvement and self discovery are journeys - not destinations.
Dive safe and dive often
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