Open Water Skills

A Summary of the Water Skills taught in the Open Water Course

scuba divers
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When you take an Open Water course in scuba diving, you will learn all of the basic water skills that you need to be a safe diver. You will also learn to dive with a buddy of at least Open Water certification without the supervision of a dive professional. During your Open Water course, you'll practice all of these skills and maybe even a few extras. You should aim to master these skills to a point where you feel that you can carry them out with ease.

Taking an Open Water Diving Course

For scuba diving certification, you can take online courses on the theory portion from SSI or PADI. This can give you a head start before you enter the water to continue learning and demonstrating your open water skills in confined water training and then open water training. The in-water training can last three to five days for a course taught at dive destinations, or you can take a part-time course that lasts over the course of weeks or months.

List of Skills Learned in an Open Water Course

You will be taught these skills in an Open Water scuba diving course.

  • Equipment Assembly and Disassembly: Learn how to properly assemble and disassemble your equipment.
  • Pre-Dive Safety Check: With your buddy, check each others' equipment to ensure that everything is in place and working properly before the dive.
  • Regulator Clearing: Remove your regulator, put it back in your mouth, and clear it.
  • Regulator Recovery: Learn two techniques that will help you recover your regulator in the event that it is knocked out of your mouth.
  • Clear a Partially Flooded Mask: Partially flood your mask and clear it while remaining underwater.
  • Mask Removal and Replacement: Take the last skill a little further and completely remove your mask, put it back on, and clear it.
  • No Mask Breathing: This skill is normally done in combination with Mask Removal and Replacement. Learn how to comfortably breathe without your mask on.
  • Alternate Air Source Use: Simulate being out of air by signaling to your buddy, securing their alternate air source, making contact with each other, and ascending while breathing from their alternate.
  • Free Flowing Regulator: Simulate a free-flowing regulator. You'll see how easy it is to continue breathing normally from a regulator that won't stop flowing.
  • Air Depletion: Experience the feeling of running out of air and signal that you're out of air to your instructor.
  • Standard Hand Signals: Practice all of the standard diving hand signals with your instructor.
  • Disconnect Low-Pressure Inflator: Simulate a stuck inflator and practice disconnecting your low-pressure inflator.
  • Deep Water Entry: Enter the water safely using an appropriate deep water entry. The correct entry will depend upon the conditions. Different types of entry include giant stride, controlled seated entry, backward roll, and bellyflop entry.
  • Proper Weighting: Fine tune your weighting to achieve perfect buoyancy on every dive.
  • Snorkel to Regulator Exchange: Practice exchanging your regulator for your snorkel on the surface.
  • BCD Oral Inflation: Simulate a broken inflator or low air situation by practicing orally inflating your BCD.
  • Cramp Removal: Learn how to remove your own cramp and the cramps of your dive buddies.
  • Tired Diver Tow: Practice different techniques for helping a tired or injured diver on the surface.
  • Weight Removal and Replacement: Practice removing and replacing your weight system both on the surface and underwater.
  • Scuba Unit Removal and Replacement: Practice removing and replacing your scuba unit both on the surface and underwater.
  • 5 Point Descent: Go through the steps for a proper 5 point descent.
  • Fin Pivot: Learn how to find neutral buoyancy by moving up and down using only the air in your lungs.
  • Hover: Learn how to finely regulate your buoyancy by remaining perfectly neutral in the water.
  • No Mask Swim: Practice swimming without a mask. It's not an easy skill but it's important to learn.
  • Controlled Emergency Swimming Ascent (CESA): Simulate an out of air emergency. You can't find your buddy and have no choice but to ascend on only one breath of air. Ascend at a safe rate while constantly exhaling.
  • 5 Point Ascent: Learn the proper method for ending every dive with these five steps.
  • Skin Dive: You'll learn to properly hyperventilate, make a vertical dive, swim underwater, and clear and breath from your snorkel upon ascent.
  • Navigation: Learn how to use a compass underwater. You'll set a heading, follow a straight line, turn around, and come back to where you started from using only your compass for guidance. You'll practice this skill both on the surface and underwater.

Watch Now: Caring for Your Mask and Snorkel After a Dive