One of the things Ben and I talk about after each dive is what we learned about ourselves and about diving. Even on the relaxing and fun dives, we try to point out something to work on, what’s improved, what’s worse, or how a gear change or situation affected us. During one of our dives last summer, we noticed that although we dove much deeper than normal, we stayed down for about 45 minutes. This was a huge improvement in how much air we used compared to our previous dives. We are constantly trying to find the perfect weighting, both amount and position, to achieve the optimum trim. We also regularly practice skills so they stay fresh and current. Becoming a good diver is an ongoing process of exploration and experimentation with every dive. Writing down air consumption and weighting information in your log allows you to observe your progress over time and reflect on your past experiences as well. We recently interviewed Tom Leaird, who wrote the YMCA SCUBA program and founder of Scuba Educators International. (Stay tuned for the full interview coming soon) Tom feels that every dive is a chance to learn something.
Try to think of a few things that made you better, pushed your limits, or you stuff you would like to work on. Ben and I took away a lot from our exposure to lift bags and underwater construction during one of our advanced courses. Tying knots in a dirt cloud that blacks out the sun isn’t my definition of fun (most of the time) but it did wonders for my confidence in low visibility conditions. Also take a moment to note any special moments or memories. A few lines from a log book is all it takes to bring back a flood of great memories.
As we go out and dive new sites, there are always new things to pick up from the experience and from other divers. Each person has their own perspective and experiences to bring to the table and we feel it’s important to seek those out. Dive culture varies from region to region, site to site, and shop to shop and those cultures all have techniques and ways of doing things that you may decide to try or add to your own diving. As divers, we constantly have something new to learn. Read, observe what others are doing, take advantage of training opportunities, and take every opportunity to be the best diver you can be. No matter if you have 5 dives, or 3500 dives, there is always something to learn.