scuba buoyancy control
There's "only one way"
sculling and the ciber diver

"No performance requirement in SCUBA Diving is more poorly defined or less often achieved than....Buoyancy Control."
BuoyancyQuest...."LOOK....NO HANDS!"
"Tough talk about Buoyancy Control SKILLS!"

SCUBA Diving is an EGO Sport, so it should come as no surprise when ego or accusations of  ego enter the buoyancy skills debate.

Cyber divers  resent criticism of sculling and cry foul and accuse those divers who practice “no....hands diving” of being ego motivated and elitist!

Sculling proponents, if we can call them that,  employ fish examples to support their argument that any and every appendage is fair game since many fish utilize a variety of fins to achieve success. They then inventory such fins as pectoral, pelvic, dorsal and perhaps even anal in an effort to justify “sculling while diving” and to imply, no doubt, that non-scullers are anal about the non-use of hands as swimming aids while diving.

The sea horse swims in a vertical posture, and is about the only fish that does,  but except for a few divers who still think it is cool to be photographed  hovering "fins down" along a wall, most people now recognize that horizontal is preferable to vertical, while diving. Most divers want to develop a horizontal almost all fish. This is especially true of safety stops where a horizontal posture reduces the profile and the pressure gradient of the lungs.

Cooler heads among the internet divers are more cautious and usually take what they believe to be the “high road” by conceding that sculling should end at some mysterious juncture for those divers with ambitious goals such as cave diving but that the casual diver should be free to include the use of hands in their less challenging and less important pursuits. "Be a free spirit!"  "Dive to please yourself!"; seems to be their message.  But what if that independent attitude had manifested itself earlier and those free spirits had decided against learning to clear a flooded mask or, perhaps even, in favor of breath holding? What then?

Cyber Diving requires an icon or logo, a nifty handle and a membership on a message board. After that you “just go dive” or so the mantra seems to indicate.  But do the cyber divers really resemble their own rhetoric? Do they, or for that matter, does any diver, look as good underwater as they do on paper or plastic or on a blog or message board? The internet offers anonymity that is without equal. Anyone who has ever stumbled into a political discussion on line can testify to the savagery and venom that is so recklessly exchanged. Lies are fair game as long as one's point is achieved. Cyber diving is no different!  We don't see the cyber diver....... really get wet!  And a diver needs to be seen to be believed; and preferably seen in moving pictures or better still, through the faceplate of your mask while underwater..  But Cyber Divers, for the most part, are invisible. Talk is just talk and advice, about dive skills,  is just advice if it is not accompanied by visuals. As for opinions?  We all know how that  goes.................or do we?

Buoyancy Control is the most poorly defined and most neglected skill in the divers tool box. In many cases it is missing altogether. Missing because training began with negative buoyancy. Skills were introduced while kneeling on the bottom and divers were outfitted with too much weight. The dirty little secret was that their mentors ( the very instructors who introduced them to the sport ) usually had nothing to share with them about buoyancy and were unable to provide memorable examples, once again....through the faceplate of the student's mask,  that would challenge their pupils to imitate and achieve mastery of this important fundamental skill. Lack of buoyancy control is  a condition that is not limited to beginners. It is an epidemic that encompasses most of diving. No-one has immunity! Self vaccination may require the humbling prospect of returning to first base in order to “get it right".  Proficiency must be earned!  For those divers who have achieved recognition or status, in spite of their poor foundation, this can mean an unacceptable degree of embarrassment. Established Dive Leaders are not going back to first base after taking a short cut to a "home run". They will continue to talk the talk and set poor examples and feed the problem. It's just that simple! Status and Money are far more important in the dive community than ability and integrity.

Sculling is a flaw not a technique!  It is a crutch that is employed by divers who have failed to develop exceptional buoyancy control skills. Divers do not stop sculling because they have acquired “good buoyancy skills”! They learn or teach themselves “GREAT BUOYANCY SKILLS” because they have stopped sculling. Sculling is the best way to betray yourself if you have poor fundamental skills but “not sculling” is the first step toward recovery and the development of notable or exceptional buoyancy skills. 

We live in a world where self promotion and advancement in spite of ability is the norm.  Successful but inept winners speak of merit and pulling themselves up by their own boot straps but a closer look reveals that their only claim to fame is their knack for self invention. They are phonies! The absence of any real talent becomes apparent upon closer scrutiny..... in diving and in most of the more familiar accomplishments of daily life. If you don't want to be a phony, you need to develop a foundation of real skills. Fundamentals. Not more expensive or impressive equipment....but an impressive technique!

The equipment intensive nature of diving affords an opportunity for the dive business to focus on the tangible and marketable aspects of the sport; i.e. the gadgets that provide the “pay day” for their retailers. Emphasis on equipment directs attention away from the failure of the status quo to offer anything reminiscent of admirable buoyancy skills. Bait and switch is common practice.  Come to us and learn to dive is what is said.....when come to us and buy stuff and become "our customer" is what is meant .  Divers who have advanced without ever really touching “first base”, look for excuses to justify  how they look underwater; "look at my cool and expensive gear, listen to me talk about tech diving and perhaps you won't notice my actual skills."   But when the jury comes in, it is skills not toys that define great divers!

SCUBA Diving is an EGO Sport!  Getting past ego is the biggest hurtle that is faced by the people who want to be more than just another tourist with a C-CARD in their pocket!

john noftall




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Divers do not stop sculling because they acquire "good buoyancy skills."
They learn or teach themselves  "GREAT BUOYANCY SKILLS "  because they have stopped sculling.
john noftall

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