Certified in 10 Easy Steps

By David Taylor ~Executive Editor, Rodale's Scuba Diving magazine

Getting certified to dive will be one of the greatest learning experiences of your life. First, there's the excitement of learning to explore a new world, one of those adventures that have the power to re-energize us, to burn off the rust we accumulate in our adult lives and make us kids again, when the learning came fast and furious.

But as adults we also appreciate the seriousness of the commitment we make to become certified divers, a commitment not to be taken lightly because it will engage our full selves—our bodies, our minds, our spirit of adventure.

And it all starts with one person: your dive instructor, the person saying welcome to this new world, you're gonna do fine. The person in whose eyes you search for the confidence and assurance you need as you begin to submerge for your first open-water dive—a moment that captures the special faith we place in dive instructors.

Good news: If you're reading this, you've probably already taken the first two steps along the 10-step path to becoming a certified, active diver:

Step 1: You've dared to try something new.

Step 2: You've found a dive store and dive instructor you're comfortable with. Now that you've found that person, you're ready for—

Step 3: Sign up for adventure. Discuss options for completing your open-water certification: meeting weekly for classroom and pool sessions; weekend classes; home study; class trips for your open-water dives; and more. Together you'll devise a plan that best fits your schedule.

Step 4: Put a mask on it. And a snorkel. And a pair of fins. These are the basic items of personal gear that need to be fitted to you by a dive store professional. For reasons of safety and comfort, we recommend that you buy dive equipment only at a dive store.

Step 5: Be a good egg. An important part of your training involves going back to the classroom and learning about the dive environment, physics and safety practices. You'll put that knowledge to work when you—

Step 6: Get wet! Your first dives will take place in a pool or other shallow water. Be prepared for your first breath on a regulator under water—it's like nothing else you'll ever do.

Step 7: Go diving. Your open-water training dives are the crowning achievement of your classroom and pool work. You get to show off the skills you've mastered and then do what you've been working toward: go on a dive. It really doesn't matter whether it's in a lake or on a coral reef—the freedom of weightlessness and the sweet hiss of a regulator are the same.

Step 8: Go all out. You're a certified diver; you've got a C-card to prove it. Now use it: Only card-carrying divers can buy scuba life-support equipment. And we encourage you to begin right now selecting your personal equipment, especially a regulator, buoyancy compensator and dive computer. Having your own gear will make you safer and more comfortable under water.

Step 9: Go for more. Your open-water certification is really just the invitation to the party. Like a med school graduate, you still need to serve a diving internship with your instructor and other experienced divers. Sign up for more training or dives under supervision as soon as you can. Both will allow you to maximize your safety and enjoyment.

Step 10: Subscribe. In this sport, the learning never stops. There are always new techniques being developed, new equipment invented, new destinations discovered. You need a source that will keep you sharp and up-to-date. Allow me to recommend the only magazine that covers all three areas—training, equipment, travel—in a comprehensive, objective way: Rodale's Scuba Diving magazine. It has become the magazine divers trust because it is the only one with ScubaLab, a consumer laboratory that performs the sport's only scientific equipment evaluations; a Reader Rater program, which solicits and publishes the uncensored reports of dive travelers all over the world; and the latest training and safety advice from the sport's most respected instructors.

Click here to receive two free issues. Or log on to the Rodale's Scuba Diving web site: www.scubadiving.com. In both places you're going to find people just like you—those who love to dive.

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