Posted by Wayne on October 22, 2002 at 22:19:52:
In Reply to: Mask Removal Panic posted by Todd on October 22, 2002 at 12:25:07:
Of all the problems I have seen students have in scuba classes, yours is one of the most common. It makes sense to be upset in the situation. Only familiarity with the sensations will allow you to gain the comfort you desire. The problem is how to gain that familiarity.
First, I would say that you should spend time in the pool practising the skill with scuba gear. Of course you cannot do this alone, and the dive shop will probably assist you in getting the extra pool time you need. If you can't get to the dive shop's pool with gear and an instructor, then you can do the same thing in any pool or a bathtub with just your personal gear.
Start with your snorkel and no mask. practise controlling your airways so that you are inhaling through your mouth only. Then lower your face into the water so that the tip of your nose is just at the surface. Then start to develop the skill of controlling your airway. It takes practise, I suspect from your statements above you can already do it with concentration. But with practise, you can do it while totally relaxed. That is the secret of not being bothered by a missing mask -- being ralaxed.
Because you are not in any danger at the surface playing with a snorkel, you will be able to work the skill without dealing with the stress. Once you feel good with this, (it will take a few minutes, but do not rush) start doing it with a mask going on and off. Keep breathing normally through the snorkel while the mask is on, off, back on, and cleared. Once you have done this a bit your airway will becomed trained, and your mind will become comfy with the sensations. Then it is time to do it with scuba. You will need your instructor before you do this.
With a reg instead of a snorkel, everything will be easier and you will be surprised how easy it seems. This is because the snorkel breaths harder than a regulator. All good divers who do not lie will admit that they always feel a concern when the mask comes off.
I often like to do this skill while inhaling through the mouth and exhaling through the nose. I find it makes me happier since it keeps my nostrils very dry. When sitting in a pool or on the sand, it does not matter much, but in a surge or while swimming, it helps since you might not always have your head upright. But again, it takes work, but the end result is worth it.
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