In order to encourage the growth of the sport and to change existing misconceptions it is time to release more facts about scuba diving and thus dispelling the old myths.
Only good swimmers can dive
Good news, you don't have to be a keen swimmer to learn to dive. In fact, I have done introduction diving with people who didn't even know how to swim. Of course it is best if you can but your diving abilities won't necessarily be related to your swimming abilities. Fortunately, you don't swim underwater like you would at the surface (imagining this makes me laugh every time…). Whilst diving, arms are useless and the only propulsion comes from the legs, so a gentle kick with the fins is more than enough and you don't need to be an Olympic swimmer to do so. In my opinion, the most important things to remember when moving underwater are to remain calm and to have good balance so you don't rock from side to side waving your arms.
Aquatic life is dangerous
For many people sharks are the reason to stay on dry land. I hope this is no longer the case thanks to Dispelling the Myths of Scuba Diving but I hear you saying "Yeah, and what about moray eels, fire coral or jelly fish?" There are two main rules in scuba diving, the first one being "never hold your breath" and the second one that I call the 3Ts "do not Touch, Take or Tease". If you follow those rules you will be absolutely fine unless you are diving with piranhas. There are actually 2 fish that can be aggressive even if you follow the 3Ts rule: the trigger fish and the clown fish (yes! Nemo is not only a cute little fishy fishy) both are extremely territorial and would protect their eggs if you get too close no matter what size you are, which is actually quite admirable given the fact that a clown fish is only a couple of centimetres long. However, as rare as it might be, if you ever find yourself threatened by a trigger fish (should I give you a tip as well if you feel in danger of Nemo?), the best thing to do is to swim away always keeping an eye on it and never towards the surface as its territory has the shape of a cone starting from the bottom all the way up to the surface.
Dangerous nitrogen narcosis
Well… the truth is yes and no. No it is not dangerous in itself but its consequences could be if not taken seriously. Let me explain a little bit more about it. Little is known about nitrogen narcosis but what is certain is that at a particular depth (it can start at 30m), nitrogen becomes toxic to us. To keep things simple, our neurons are formed of axons which are there to send information to our brain via electrical impulses. These axons are made of fat and nitrogen loves fat, so some of this nitrogen stays on the axons thus slowing down the entire process of information delivery. Some people are more prone to narcosis than others and it seems like stress is another important factor. The diving conditions can trigger narcosis too, temperature, visibility, current… As a novice diver you won't be able to recognise the symptoms and that is when it becomes dangerous as it has an effect on behaviour. I have seen people sharing their air with fish or staring at a rock with nothing on it. But don't worry, the more experienced you get the later narcosis occurs and you will also be able to recognise the symptoms. Your instructor or dive master will be on the lookout for the tell-tale signs and will know what to do, which is to come up a little bit for the effect to disappear. Simple. …Still in doubt about becoming a diver? Any more scuba diving myths you have heard off? Post a comment here and we will try to set the record straight. And if you fancy giving scuba diving a go, get in touch.