Clear Scuba Mask Like a Pro – How to Conquer Your Fear and Master the Skill
Let me guess..
You hate it! You hate the water in your nose. You hate your instructor for making you do it repeatedly.
It is your worst dream come true.
The DREADFUL mask skill !
Will it make it better, if I say we’ve all been there? Probably not.
‘What does she know?’ – you think. ‘Those instructors clearing their mask in a fraction of second. They were just born this way’.
You couldn’t be further from truth. Here’s the secret – all divers (ok.. most of them) were exactly where you are now – struggling, being afraid and hoping you’ll never have to clear this mask again. But you will. I guarantee you, you can’t escape it forever (I know, coz I tried, but more about it later).
If you give me five minutes I will try to explain:
- why it’s important to MASTER clearing scuba mask
- why are you struggling, and how to solve it
- and finally – how to go from ‘Oh, my God I’m gonna die here’ to “let’s take silly pictures without mask” (like me below)
Yes, you heard me right.. You can get to the point when mask clearing will be easy – even fun!
But let’s start with first WHY.
Just me being silly after I found sunglasses underwater.
WHY IT’S IMPORTANT TO MASTER CLEARING SCUBA MASK
It happened during a dive on boat safari in Maledives. The visibility was great, the abundance of sea life was breathtaking, everything seemed perfect.. until my mask started fogging like crazy.
Before the dive I adjusted it of course thousand times, so not a single drop of water could get inside. But the worst happened. It fogged up completely leaving me half blind and super anxious.
After considering my options, I let few drops of water in, to be able to clean the glass every now and then, but a nightmare just continued. Other divers were enjoying company of sharks, turtles and morays while I was peeking through my peephole trying hard to stay calm.
Finally my hubby convinced me to clear the mask properly. The idea of letting the water in my mask was terrifying, but I was desperate to see clearly again.
Needless to say I ended up with my mask almost full of water, unable to clear it, as the last time I practiced this skill was around my Open Water Course. Oh yes, I was a great pretender with around 60 dives, thinking I am so experienced, I actually forgot how to clear scuba mask.
Poor Divemaster tried to show me how it’s done, but at this point it was no use. Vision blurred, eyes itchy as hell, I just hang on to Greg for the remaining 10 minutes of the dive.
Needles in my eyes were nothing compared to my embarrassment as we finished the dive and everyone was asking what the hell happened to me down there.
In my teaching experience I encounter many students thinking, ok I’m gonna get through this skill to get certified and I will never clear this stupid mask again. Well, my Dears. That’s where you’re wrong. You may try to get away for a while, but not forever.
Adventures, like the one I shared with you, can end up with embarrassment and itchy eyes in the best case, or with panic attack in the less favorable scenario.
Fortunately, this skill doesn’t have to be your nightmare if only you spend enough time practicing, and get used to the water around your face.
ADVANTAGES OF MASTERING CLEARING SCUBA MASK ?
– raised self-confidence
– more pleasurable dives (as you concentrate on cool things around you instead of your mask)
– you will get to do cool pics (like the one above)
WHY WE HATE WATER AROUND OUR NOSE
Our body is actually pretty clever and it knows we shouldn’t breath under water. We have this mechanism that prevents us from taking a breath when our nose and mouth area are submerged (especially in cold water).
That’s why you feel like you cannot take a breath when you pour water into your mask, even if the regulator is in your mouth.
Only way to convince our smart brain that we in fact can breath in this situation, is practice breathing with water around our face. I know, bleh.. but it does get easier.
Humans, as all mammals, automatically stop breathing when their nose and mouth are submerged in water.
Before we check how to practice mask clearing and how to get used to water in our face let’s analyze exact steps of the skill.
HOW TO MASTER CLEARING SCUBA MASK – STEPS, TIPS AND PRACTICE
- tilt your head downward (look down)
- stick your index finger under the skirt of your scuba mask getting enough water in (start with less water and with progress add more and more, until you practice clearing full mask) Remember – keep breathing through your mouth.
- press top of your mask frame to your forehead with index and middle finger
- take a bigger breath through mouth
- start exhaling through your nose – tilting your head backwards (looking up)
- inhale through mouth and check if your mask is clear – don’t worry if you didn’t push all the water out – look down again and repeat steps 3 – 5
Ok, so you know what to do. You learned the exact steps.
Now. You know what leads from knowing to mastering, don’t you?
Practice. Practice. and some more Practice…
I know you cringe at the mere idea of letting the water into your mask – repeatedly. You hate this feeling, but guess what.. the more you do it, the less it’s gonna bother you. I promise, each time will be easier and after each try the confidence in your skill will grow.
Imagine one day going on a dive completely confident that you can clear your scuba mask no matter what circumstances. No matter how deep you are!
Yes, YOU can get there and I‘m sure you will. Now you know what it takes – learning the steps and repeating them until you master the skill. Let’s put this knowledge into action with tips from those who know what their doing.
– What I like to practice with my student before we get to the skill itself, is breathing in through the mouth and out through the nose. Dry practice, no water required. It may sound funny we should actually practice this, but it’s not how we normally breath, is it? You need to click a switch in your brain, so it listens to you and change the pattern.
You can practice everywhere and you don’t need any equipment. Just start inhaling through mouth and exhaling through nose. Kind of like you wanted to clear your nose when you’re ill and it’s full of snot – sorry for this disgusting comparison, but I find it helpful J
If you struggle, pinch your nose as you inhale and put your fingers on your mouth as you exhale. After a while your brain will get used to this new way of berthing ad it won’t feel so weird anymore.
– You probably saw experienced divers (maybe even your instructor) clearing their mask rapidly by tilting it up with thumbs and blowing loads of bubbles. It looks cool, it’s effective if you can pull it off, but it’s not the easiest way to do it. More often than not you will tilt the mask for too long and you’ll end up with more water in then on the beginning.
Pushing top frame of the mask is really enough to loosen the skirt on the bottom, so the air can push water out. Try sticking to 6 points I mentioned above until you do it effortlessly. Only then you can learn other – ‘cool’ technique.
– There are many ways to put water in the mask. I find it best to stick my index finger under my mask skirt from the top and gradually let water drip in. This way you control how much water you’re letting in and it won’t go straight up your nose.
– Remember you can still breath even with your mask full of water – keep breathing through your mouth and stay calm.
– If you completed all the steps and there is still some water in your mask try repeating them with one more tweak. As you’re tilting your head back – move it from side to side. Design of some masks makes it harder to remove all the water. I noticed sometimes there’s residue on the bottom by the glass.
I hope that you feel motivated and you already picture your success. You know the steps, you learned few tips and tricks. Let’s check out how exactly can you practice in order to master clearing scuba mask.
HOW TO PRACTICE
- What if I told you, that you don’t need whole scuba equipment to practice clearing scuba mask? All you need is your mask and snorkel.. and water of course. Swimming pool is a great place to start. Before going on the next diving vacations take your mask and snorkel to the pool and:
– stand in the water with your face submerged and breath through snorkel without your mask. This will teach your brain that you can breath with water around your nose.
– after you feel more confident, try swimming around only with your snorkel (hold it in place with one hand)
– with your mask and snorkel in place, stand or kneel somewhere where you can put you face in the water, while still breathing through the snorkel. Practice steps 1-6 mentioned above just like you would with regulator in your mouth.
Deliberate practice and repetition leads to great results.
- In the end of every dive flood your mask (firstly half-way, later whole mask) and practice the steps that you mastered. Ask your dive body or Divemaster to stay with you. Remember to wait until after safety stop, in case you had to bolt to the surface.
- When you feel confident enough you can try taking the skill deeper. If you practice it often enough you will no longer be bothered with water around your nose. It never actually gets pleasant, but it get’s tolerable.
In short we can sum up the whole process as follow:
Practice in the safe environment – master the EXACT STEPS
Practice in the end of every dive – apply the steps you mastered in more realistic, but still safe surrounding
Get to the point where you can clear your mask anytime anywhere!
All right, now you know precisely what to do to conquer this fear forever and clear your mask like a pro. Do you want to be a badass diver, who is confident in their skills, or you want to be a great pretender (like me once) and gamble during every dive?
Now it all depends on you.
Master the steps. Practice what you learned. Never again fear the water in your mask!
The wonders of the underwater world are well worth the effort.
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