I am a beginner swimmer, and tread water like a rock. I’m interested in taking scuba lessons when I’m in mexico this January. do I need to be a strong swimmer and able to tread water well before such lessons? Dose the scuba outfit/gear have a flotation device on it to help keep me afloat when I surface? Any in-sight will be of help. Thanks
As an instructor, I have seen all levels of swimming abilities. Here is the basics of what you are facing based on how I teach a class through PADI:
1. You have to tread or float or combo of the two for 10 minutes without touching the bottom or sides of the pool. You need to complete this, it doesn’t have to be pretty, but you need to complete it without struggling.
2. Based on the instructor, you need to complete a 200 yard swim or 300 yard swim with mask, fins, and snorkel. I make my students complete the mask, fin, and snorkel swim. I want to see how they react using a mask and snorkel. You wouldn’t believe how many problems I can solve on the first night during this skill. This is not a timed skill, it jsut needs to be completed. Once again, it doesn’t need to be pretty, just completed comfortably.
So to receive certification, you have to complete these two skills (plus lots of others). Lets look at how swimming and scuba are used together.
Plainly stated, swimming motion has little or no use while on scuba gear. They are two completely seperate skill sets. For example, using your arms while scuba diving is actually a waste of energy which is a waste of air. In scuba diving, you use nice long kicks with your legs instead of the short fast flutter kick.
Since scuba diving is obviously done around water, knowing how to tread water and/or swim is important just for safety reasons. Plus, in between dives, lots of people jump in the water to take a swim to kill some time.
As for the flotation device, you do wear a jacket/vest/harness, that has a bladder in it. On the suface you inflate it to keep you afloat so you don’t waste energy, and underwater it is used to help acheive neutral buoyancy. It isn’t a “flotation device” as it doesn’t necessary keep you face up like a life jacket.