Recently had an email seeking advice from a friend about getting back into cave diving.
They'd been out of it for a while, you see. Reason why is somewhat irrelevant. Lots of people fall out of this or that pastime for a time because life has a way of getting in the way. And diving is not immune; diving is, in fact, perhaps particularly susceptible given the time, expense, and the increased-risk environment coupled with the potential for skills degradation.
Sometimes it's a job keeping someone away, or kids, or moving. Sometimes it's something like a shift in the local dive community, or politics, or a favorite shop struggling. Sometimes it's a bad experience on a boat or with a dive buddy, or that someone had a close-call or even just got spooked by something. Or they get distracted by some other pastime that suddenly grabs their attentions or their passions. Or have a struggle with their health.
Sometimes - and this is saddest - sometimes diving just loses its shine and a person just can't be bothered.
For whatever the reason, perhaps you, or someone you know, has fallen out of the sport for a time. But wants to find their way back in.
That's the question I was asked, roughly. How to get back in?
Should they retrain, they asked? A refresher? Main line dives until they feel ready for more?
My answer was as follows. Please feel free if you, or someone you know, is in a similar position to rip off (and/or disregard) any portion of this.
It's mostly cave focused because... well... so am I. But it holds pretty much true for any level of diving.
I think any one of those things or any combination thereof is the right answer.
It’s whatever’s going to make you feel comfortable and at whatever pace you like. Without pressure or expectations or targets.
It’s supposed to just be a bit of fun… not a series of mandates or waypoints.
If I were to suggest a rough curriculum:
Splash around it open water for a bit. Do some S-Drills and valve drills. Play with a reel. Swim around doing barrel rolls and summersaults just for the sheer joy of being alive.
Do a cavern loop or two. Hover in a corner with your light dimmed and shrouded and just watch cavern tours swim by. They’re always a treat.
Then do a mainline dive or two. Stop during the exit, place a cookie on the line, take out wetnotes and play a game of tic-tac-toe (or GO if you have a really good sac rate) and try to maintain position over the cookie.
Fit in a coaching day or two in between or with all of that.
See if there are any instructors who would be willing to let you sit in on a couple of key class days for topics or skills you’d like to refresh. Or even for whole classes as a stand-in buddy for a first-time student.
Ain’t no pressure to do any one, precise thing as the “right” answer. It’s whatever’s right for you and at whatever pace is going to make you safe, comfortable, and confident.
You've been out of the game for a while.
Doesn’t mean that you’ve lost points from your scuba-score.
My advice is to just dive in a way that’s fun.