Mask Removal Panic

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Posted by Todd on October 22, 2002 at 12:25:07:

I'm in the process of being certified (PADI) and have had 3 pool sessions and 1 open water dive to date. I can do everything fine (CESA, regulator exchange, buddy breathing, 200 yard swim, 10 minute water tread, mask flood/clear, buoyancy) EXCEPT underwater mask REMOVAL and replace. As soon as I remove my mask and water floods my face, I instantly panic and want to ascend to the surface. I know it's irrational, and I'm even a good swimmer and have no problem swimming with my eyes open underwater (I don't even wear contacts). All of the mask removals to date have been in the pool, but our next open water dive will have a mask removal at 30 feet (in the cold Pacific) which absolutely terrifies me. I know to all of you who have a great deal of experience that this seems absolutely trivial. Any suggestions of what I can do to overcome this totally irrational fear? After doing our first open water dive (all we did was swim over reefs at about 30 feet), I absolutely love it!!! But I know this skill is important to master.

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