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Downey DuckDiving FAQ 





















 Call 724 869-1989 or email for questions not answered here
Question #1: Where Do I Start?
Question #2: Is Learning to Dive Difficult?
Question #3: Are There Age Requirements?
Question #4: How Long Does It Take to Get Certified?
Question #5: I'm Not a Strong Swimmer. Does that Matter?
Question #6: Classroom Portion: What Does It Cover?
Question #7: Pool Portion: What Does It Cover?
Question #8: Is Scuba Diving Expensive?
Question #9: What are "Open Water Training Dives"?
Question #10: Can I Get Fully Certified While on Vacation?
Question #11: Can I Dive on Vacation Without Getting Certified?
Question #12: Is My Fear of Sharks Justified?
Question #13: Is It a Problem if My Ears Hurt?
Question #14: Will I Be Required to Buy Equipment?
Question #15: What if I Run Out of Air?
Question #16: What if I Can't Finish the Class?
Question #17: What is Scuba Diver and Open Water Diver?
Question #18: What about the Medical Form?

You're right: I've always wanted to learn to scuba dive. Where do I start?

Become a certified scuba diver and join the thousands of people who have already discovered the enjoyment of scuba diving. You can start you dive adventure with our Introductory classes at minimal cost to see if you enjoy the experience. Then sign up for the Open Water course.

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But isn't learning to dive difficult?

Learning to dive is a lot easier than you may think. All it takes is good overall health, a basic level of comfort around the water, and the desire to explore the water world. Every year, thousands of people, from teenagers to senior citizens, become certified. 

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What are the age requirements for enrolling in a scuba certification course?

You must be at least 12 years old. Students between the ages of 12 and 14 receive a junior certification that can be upgraded to a regular certification after age 15.  You're never too old.  In fact many retirees are taking up scuba diving for the first time.

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How long does it take to get certified?

The Scuba Diver course typically meets for three classroom and pool sessions, followed by two dives in a natural environment such as a lake.  Full Open Water certification involves two additional classroom/pool sessions and two additional open water dives.

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I've never been a very strong swimmer. Does that matter?

Scuba Diver certification requires only that you be a reasonably proficient swimmer, able to tread or stay afloat for 10 minutes. Open Water divers are also required to swim 200 yards using any stroke (no time limit).

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What does the classroom portion of the course cover?

Numerous topics, including dive equipment, procedures,and the effects of depth and pressure will be covered.  You will be introduced to these topics with the home study materials. In class we will review and elaborate on these topics, then take a short quiz to be sure that you understand them completely.

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What about the pool portion?

This is where the fun begins--putting on the equipment and getting wet! Few things in life compare to the thrill of your first breaths under water on a scuba regulator. The pool is also where you begin mastering skills such as breathing from a regulator, clearing your mask, descent and ascent procedures, and proper buoyancy, all the routine skills as well as procedures for dealing with the unexpected.

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I've heard that scuba diving is very expensive. What about those of us on a budget?

No problem. Although owning all your equipment is ideal, it can be rented, allowing you to try various types and to take your time investing in the sport.  Most local diving is free, Florida and Caribbean diving is reasonable, and exotic getaways to far-flung corners of the globe are well worth the expense. See the travel section of our home page for the class or  trip that interests you or research our travel reviews.  Ask about our generous student discounts.

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What are Open Water Training Dives?

During open water training dives you will practice the skills you have mastered in the pool and learn some navigation techniques. Once you have completed the training skills, the rest of the dive is for your pleasure; you'll have fun exploring while gaining experience and confidence.  The main difference is that now you are in open water. You may do these dives with us in a local lake, while traveling with us to tropical locations, or with another instructor while traveling independently.  "Scuba Diver" requires two dives which can be done on the same day.  "Open Water Diver" requires four dives done two per day.

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If I want to get fully certified while on vacation, how long will it take?

We can provide all the necessary classroom and pool training to allow you to complete your open water dives in two days while on vacation. Starting from scratch while on holiday is also possible; expect to spend a few hours in the morning and a few in the afternoon for about five days. Most divers prefer to do their classroom and pool insturction locally so they can spend more of their vacation time actually diving.

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Can I dive on vacation without getting certified? 

Yes, you can. These experiences go by different names according to where you are: "Introduction to Scuba", Discover Scuba Diving", or "Resort Course" are some of the most common. The activity usually consists of a morning pool session during which you are introduced to the equipment and practice several essential skills. Then you are taken on a guided shallow dive, closely supervised by your instructor. These courses are a safe, enjoyable way to gain familiarity with the sport but your will be more capable and comfortable if you do your pool sessions with us before your trip.

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I'll confess: one of the reasons I've never learned to dive is because I'm scared of sharks. Is my fear justified?

Many people have been made to fear sharks and other marine animals because of the false image given them by movies and television. Fact is, most marine animals, including the shark, octopus, barracuda and moray eel, are shy and passive around humans. None are more misunderstood than sharks. Humans are not the natural prey of sharks. Almost all shark attacks happen by accident to swimmers and surfers. The shark mistakes them splashing on the surface for a seal or sea lion, and takes a bite. We taste pretty bad to them, so that's usually the end of it. And unless you're swimming with sea lions off the California coast or spear fishing in certain parts of Australia, you have virtually nothing to fear from the great white shark. Many photographers spend weeks at a time and thousands of dollars trying to get close to them, sometimes with no luck. In the Bahamas, dive operators have been conducting shark feeding dives for years without a single incident to guests. Once you've knelt on the sandy bottom and felt reef sharks cruising by your head, you realize they're not a threat, they're just  fish. 

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My ears hurt even when I swim to the bottom of a pool. What happens when I dive even deeper?

The pain you feel is called a "squeeze" and is caused by the pressure of water pushing against your eardrum. One of the first things you'll learn in scuba class is a simple technique of equalizing very similar to what you might do on an airplane. When done properly, you won't feel any pain in your ears. 

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Will I be required to buy equipment?

No. All scuba equipment for your pool sessions is included in the course fees except for the Community College classes where it is available for a nominal fee. You will be most comfortable if you have your own mask, snorkel, and fins-­items that must be fitted to you personally; but we recommend that you try our demo equipment in the pool before purchasing.

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OK, so I'm a victim of Hollywood propaganda about sharks. But I've still heard diving can be dangerous. What if I run out of air?

You are right to have questions and concerns before beginning any new activity, especially one that involves the use of life-support equipment. Your course is structured so that your questions are answered and you feel comfortable with your equipment, its proper function and what to do in the unlikely event that something doesn't work as planned.  You will have a gauge that tells you how much air you have left at all times.  To prepare you for the unlikely event that you should run out of air, you will learn to share air with another diver and how to ascend independently. 

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This all sounds great! But what if I begin a scuba class and for some reason I can't finish?

At Downey Diving, you have options. If you have paid for the course, but cannot continue due to a permanent medical condition, you will receive a refund. Problems such as scheduling or temporary illness can be handled in three ways: (1) make-up the missed class during another scheduled class, (2) pay a nominal fee for a private make-up class, (3) drop out for now, and start again the next time the course if offered, at no additional cost. 

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What is the difference between Scuba Diver & Open Water Diver?

The most important difference is that a Scuba Diver is certified to dive only under the direct supervision of an instructor, assistant instructor, or dive master.  An Open Water diver is certified to dive independently.

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What about the Medical Form?

Everyone must complete a medical form before participating in any pool sessions.  If  you answer "yes" to any of the questions on this form a physician's approval is required.  We recommend that you look over this form and get a physician's approval if necessary before class begins so that you do not miss any pool sessions.  Download this form (acrobat reader required), or contact us so we can mail it to you or answer questions. 
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