We are always told we should learn sports when we are young, when our bodies are more resilient to the bruises and bumps which can be afflicted on us when we learn a new sport. This is true to a certain extent.
Take for example, my experience learning wind surfing. I learnt the sport when I was 26. If I were to learn this sport now at age 42, chances are I would not go far and would probably give up after 1 or 2 tries. Learning wind surfing was like battling with all the forces at the same time! We’re talking about trying to balance on choppy waves on a slippery wet board, at the same time maneuvering a sail which weighs more than you in the correct direction that you want to go.In the process, I contributed blood and flesh from cuts on barnacles and bruises from hitting the surf board more than once before falling into the waters.
But there is a huge difference with scuba diving. YOU ARE NEVER TOO OLD TO LEARN SCUBA DIVING. I can never say this enough. I learnt scuba diving when I was 38. Now I’m not saying that 38 is a ripe old age but still, the body does feel somewhat less strong and less resilient. Added to that, as we get older, we also seem to have more fears. Perhaps we feel we have more to lose if something should happen to us.
I say middle age and beyond should never be a factor in learning scuba diving BUT you do need to have these:
1) an intense love for the sea
2) a willingness to learn from someone younger than you
3) relatively good health and lastly but very important
4) time and money
Now I’m assuming that you are thinking of learning scuba diving because you want to make this a sport that you can enjoy every other weekend if time and money permits and not just learning for education’s sake.
An Intense Love for the Sea
To enjoy a scuba diving trip, you will have to love the sea and I mean really really love it with all its wonderful creatures large and small. You will know what I mean on your first ever scuba diving trip after you have cleared your Open Water tests.
It is unlikely that your scuba diving buddies on your first dive trip will be the same classmates in your scuba diving course. Because of time and money constraints, you will find that you may be the only one keen enough to join a scuba diving trip soon after your certification.
More often than not, your dive buddies will be a dive-crazy bunch who will do at least 4 dives a day plus another at night. This means that on a scuba diving trip, most times you will not do anything but dive, talk about the sea creatures and encounters of each dive, before suiting up for the next dive. For someone who only wants to do one dive a day and then go shopping, he/she may be disappointed as many great scuba diving spots have few of these shopping and entertainment facilities.
In case you are already getting stressed just thinking about this, don’t be. Every scuba diving newbie goes through this. Just have an attitude of a newbie, be humble and you will find that the seasoned divers are more than willing to share tips and may even help you to gear up before a dive.
A Willingness to Learn from Someone Younger than You
Your scuba diving instructor is likely to be someone much younger than you. Some dive instructors have an attitude and are cocky so you may have to live with it for at least 3 weekends before you become certified – 1st weekend for classroom and theory, 2nd weekend for pool sessions and a 3rd weekend for the actual open water tests. Put aside your ego and just bear with it, it’ll be worth it in the end.
Having said that, that’s not to say that there are no good and kind scuba diving instructors around. I was fortunate to receive dive instruction from PC, a very kind and patient man, without whom my dive learning experience would not be as smooth and enjoyable.
Relatively Good Health
It’s not necessary to be in peak fitness before you can take up scuba diving. However, you would need some strength to be able to walk with full scuba diving gear strapped on you. Once you enter the waters with all your gear, you are almost weightless. But it’s the few steps you have to make to get into the boat or to cross the beach into the water that may be a challenge for a person who is not used to carrying heavy loads on them.
Having said that, some scuba diving resorts have fantastic dive staff who can help to overcome this by carrying the tanks and gear to the boat for you to suit up inside the boat. And of course if you are on a live-a-board (live, eat, dive, sleep, on board a boat throughout the dive trip), then this may not be relevant.
Time and Money
This is probably the 2 most deciding factors of whether someone continues to enjoy scuba diving after passing the Open Water tests. Getting certified through a scuba diving course is very fast, just 3 weekends basically. And not too expensive, probably about $300 to $400, including an out-of-the country dive trip for the open water tests. But unless you live near a scuba diving area, you are most likely going to have to travel a distance or even out of the country to do a good dive.
Now just think how much each trip is going to cost you and multiply that by how many times you would love to do scuba diving in a year. When you do the sums, it can be staggering. So you cut down the number of dives you want to do in a year, and then calculate and cut down some more.
In our scuba diving class, my husband and I were the only ones who continued to dive after the class was over. Even then, we did not manage to do the number of dives we would really have loved to do in a year. That’s how it finally ends up that we are doing an average of 1 dive a year. This more or less ensures that we will always be diving as a “scuba diving newbie” (hence the blog’s name). A scuba diver gets “rusty” when the interval is too long between each dive trip. Ideally, we should dive at least once each quarter.
I have not even gone on to calculate the other “investments” to personalise your gear such as your own BC (buoyancy control), your own octopus (breathing appartus) and your wet suit.
Having said all this, I still believe it’s never too old to learn and enjoy scuba diving. Even with our limited dives since we were certified and diving as scuba diving newbies, we enjoy each and every one of our dive trips. Find the right people to dive with, find a fantastic dive spot that suits your preferences (whether macro, to check out small sea creatures, or see bigger fish) and nearby spa facilities to sooth your body aches after a dive – it’s a wonderful combination that will almost always ensure a great scuba diving experience!
A scuba diving newbie can still enjoy happy diving!