If you’re interested in learning how to scuba dive, you may be wondering if you need to know how to swim to get started and learn the basics. Naturally, some amount of swimming skill is necessary to move through the water when you’re scuba diving.
But do you have to be a strong swimmer to begin learning how to scuba dive? Let’s discuss everything that you need to know.
SWIMMING IS NOT REQUIRED TO LEARN HOW TO SCUBA DIVE
Learning how to scuba dive with a program like Discover Scuba from PADI does not involve much swimming. When you first start out, you’ll get an introduction to the basics of scuba diving and its concepts. You won’t have to do much extensive swimming unless you take the plunge and sign up for a full open water certification course.
These courses are typically held in a pool, on beaches, or from dive boats. This depends on the area where you’re getting your instruction and the available facilities. The requirements to sign up are:
- To be a least 10 years old
- To be in reasonably good physical health
No prior experience is necessary, and there are no swimming tests required for beginner scuba classes. In a beginner scuba course, you will learn basic guidelines about scuba diving, and get instruction on how to dive safely under the supervision of a certified scuba instructor.
Usually, your dives will be confined to shallow waters, though you may be allowed to dive a bit more deeply. This depends on the diving instructor and the scuba company.
As part of your course, you will also get instruction on things like:
- How scuba equipment works and the basic components of a scuba apparatus
- How to breathe properly underwater
- How to swim effectively underwater
- Basic safety skills
- Information about further requirements to become a certified open water diver
Even if you are not a great swimmer, a beginner scuba course may be right for you, as it does not require you to pass a swimming test.
However, we do not recommend that you take it if you are afraid of the water or swimming. If you are anxious or nervous about the idea of scuba diving because you are afraid you are not a strong enough swimmer, it may be a good idea to develop your skills further before you attempt to learn how to scuba dive.
YOU MUST PASS A SWIM TEST TO BECOME AN OPEN WATER SCUBA DIVER
While you do not need to pass a swim test to take a beginner scuba course, you will need to pass one to become a certified open water scuba diver. If you want to continue your education and make scuba diving one of your hobbies, you’ll need to have a baseline level of swimming competency.
The tests for open water swimming competency vary, based on the certification program you use. PADI, for example, requires you to:
- Swim 200 yards (8 pool lengths without touching the sides or bottom of the pool, and without stopping
- Tread water with your face above the water (no “dead man’s float!”) for 10 minutes without stopping
Passing this part of the test will require a reasonable level of physical fitness, and a knowledge of basic swimming strokes and techniques, such as front crawl, breaststroke, or sidestroke.
INFORM YOUR DIVING INSTRUCTOR ABOUT YOUR SWIMMING ABILITIES WHEN YOU SIGN UP
If you are signing up for a beginner course and you do not know how to swim well, or you are not confident about your swimming skills, we recommend talking to your diving instructor about your swimming abilities when you sign up.
You can let them know about your overall competence at swimming, and what aspects of swimming you tend to struggle with. This will help ensure that they are aware of your overall swimming skill level, and can keep an eye on you while you learn how to scuba dive.
If you have any difficulties during your scuba course, your instructor can provide you with tips for training on your own, and improving your swimming abilities. This is a great way to improve your overall level of swimming competence, particularly for swimming underwater.
YOU DON’T NEED TO KNOW HOW TO SWIM TO LEARN TO SCUBA DIVE!
In most cases, you don’t need to know how to swim to learn scuba diving through a beginner scuba course. No matter your level of swimming competency, you can learn the basics about scuba diving through the direct supervision of a scuba diving instructor, and have fun exploring underwater.
If you do want to continue your certification and become a certified open water scuba diver, you will need to pass a basic swimming competency test for your safety.
If you’re not a strong swimmer, we recommend starting with a beginner course. You can find out if scuba diving is right for you – and if it is, you can start training and improving your swimming skills to become an open water scuba diver.