Diving Is Different


Larry "Harris" Taylor, Ph.D.

 This editorial is based on comments made to my scuba students during initial aspects of pool training. This material is copyrighted and all rights retained by the author. This article is made available as a service to the diving community by the author and may be distributed for any non-commercial or Not-For-Profit use.  

All rights reserved.  

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Many people tend to think of scuba diving as just another type of exercise or recreational activity. This type of thinking can lead to real disasters in training and later on, in open water. Scuba diving is NOT like any other exercise or recreational activity you have previously done. The reason is quite simple:  you do NOT breathe water. This sport requires LIFE SUPPORT equipment because it is conducted in an environment hostile to your life (i.e. without mechanical assistance, the inability to breathe water while submerged can be a life threat.)

Consider learning to ski 

At some point in time, you WILL FALL DOWN! When this happens, you first look around (to make sure no one else saw your failure). Then you slowly get up, brush the snow off your butt (to remove evidence of failure  'cause, as humans, we sometimes sacrifice safety to preserve ego) and then continue stumbling down the slope. 

Learning any new sport is a repeated cyclic process of SMALL failures (mistakes to learn from) followed by mastery of the conditions that earlier led to failure. There are times when you will make mistakes here. BUT THAT IS HOW YOU WILL LEARN! If you could do everything perfectly, without hesitation or apprehension, then there would be no need for this training experience. That's why your instructors are here. I see our role as one of letting you learn from your mistakes. After all, making mistakes is just part of being human! We are here to present you with the opportunity to learn while preventing your errors  from becoming catastrophic.


Remember that in skiing, when you fall down, you can breathe the atmosphere. In diving, when you fall down, YOU CANNOT BREATHE YOUR SURROUNDINGS. The medical people have a name  for breathing the scuba environment . It is called death!

Because you cannot breathe your surroundings, the rules needed to govern  your physical, mental and emotional fitness  for training and participation in scuba diving MUST BE MORE HARSH than riding a bike down the road! This is because the consequences of failure are so much greater in an environment you can not breathe.

The point is

as sport, scuba diving is NOT like skiing or riding a bike. It is like moon walking 'cause both moon walking and scuba diving require life support equipment, proper training to handle the bulky, heavy equipment


the really cool places to practice the recreation involve travel to an exotic location.

Astronaut Recreational  Diver Jim Suit Diver


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About The Author: 

Larry "Harris" Taylor, Ph.D. is a biochemist and Diving Safety Coordinator at the University of Michigan. He has authored more than 200 scuba related articles. His personal dive library (See Alert Diver, Mar/Apr, 1997, p. 54) is considered one of the best recreational sources of information In North America.

  Copyright 2001-2024 by Larry "Harris" Taylor

All rights reserved.

Use of these articles for personal or organizational profit is specifically denied.

These articles may be used for not-for-profit diving education