Open Water Course Skills – Deep Water Entry
Making an entry into the water is a very simple and easy skill to accomplish but you are given a lot of choices. Which one is the best? The answer is whichever is the easiest. There is no need to overcomplicate things and make something that is meant to be easy more difficult.
During your confined water training sessions (skill practice in the swimming pool) you should practice a couple of different techniques of achieving a deep water entry.
Before any entry you need to make sure you have geared up and completed a buddy check prior to getting in position for your entry. Unless making a negative descent you should have your BCD about half full of air so when you hit the water you will by positive buoyant.
A very simple and easy method which is used when shore diving or from a beach, note if there is heavy surf/waves it should be advised to avoid this method to reduce risk of injury or losing equipment.
- With fins on and regulator in shuffle backwards, the shuffling will disturb any bottom dwelling creatures such as stingrays and help avoid stepping any sharp objects.
- Once the water is just over waist high fully inflate BCD change to snorkel and start to swim.
When diving on Koh Tao, and especially here at Crystal Dive, the giant stride is by far the most common form of entry when diving from one of our dive boats. This method is best used when entering from a stable platform like a boat or jetty and also when entering a swimming pool.
- Make your way to the side of the boat and position your feet so that your toes are on the edge and the blades of fin overhang.
- Check the area is clear of any hazards or divers then hold you weightbelt with your left hand and mask/regulator with your right.
- Once ready you take a big step (not jump) out while looking out to the horizon, make sure you don’t look down as you will face plant – funny for other divers not so much for you!
- Once at the surface fully inflate and give a big ‘OK’ and meet up with your buddy.
Sometimes known as the “Cousteau Roll” after scuba legend Jacques Cousteau, who performed this on his famous documentaries, this method is used mainly when diving off smaller boats such as a RIB – Rigid Inflatable Boat – or a small speedboat.
- Remember to try and even out the divers on each side so the boat doesn’t list too much to one side.
- Sit on the side of the boat so that your tank is free on the outside of the boat, look behind you to check area is clear.
- Right hand holds your mask and regulator, left hand should hold the back of the mask strap for added protection so the mask does not come off.
- When ready you signal your buddy or Divemaster and simply fall backwards, as you fall tuck your legs as so not to hit the boat.
- Once in the water kick away from the boat and signal ‘OK’, remember not to swim around the back/stern of boat always reassemble buddy teams at the front/bow.
Backwards Fall / Dead Mexican
This entry method is again quite common for Koh Tao divers as it is best used from a stable platform and adds a little more fun to open water course. Believe it or not it is actually easier than the giant stride as the tank breaks the fall but not advised if the sea is a little wavy.
- Feet should be positioned so that the heels are on the edge of the boat, have a quick check of the area behind you to make sure there are no divers or hazards.
- Hands should be in same position as the backwards roll method (you can hold onto the weightbelt with your left hand if you want secure it).
- Once ready simply fall backwards trying to keep your body and legs straight to perform this entry correct.
- Once positive buoyant give a big ok to the boat and get your buddy to double check your tank band is secure.
This entry is reserved for advanced divers as it requires more skill and is best used for deep or drift dives, but when pulled off correctly it will have you looking like a pro. Usually performed if the is a strong surface current present which would make it hard for buddy teams to make contact. A negative entry can be performed with either a giant stride or backwards roll entry method.
- After a through buddy check is complete empty your BCD of an air by squeezing it while holding the deflate button (top tip is to grab your inflator hose and try to breath in any air that may be left inside).
- Position yourself ready for your exit with your buddy at the same time, having your hands hold the correct equipment, you or the captain countdown and make entry simultaneous with your buddy.
- As you hit the water breath out to make yourself negative buoyant and swim away from the boat and make buddy contact at around 5m of depth before heading off for your dive.
Author: Neil Davidson (PADI MSDT #294100)