The Guam Guide brings you an exclusive interview with Robert G. Wyckoff, a seasoned dive instructor from PADI (Professional Association of Diving Instructors). Read on for some valuable tips and insights on getting your diving certification and the thrilling world of underwater exploration. You can also check out our guide to getting your diving certification on Guam.
Q: What would you say is the “Golden Rule” of SCUBA diving?
A: The “Golden Rule” is and should always be “safety first.” Especially in the dive industry, where in some places, it’s more about customer satisfaction. Well, for a dive incident to occur, due to safety not being the top priority, which, by the way, begins with the company scheduling the customer. Then, it is handed down to the instructor, or DM, or the boat captain if it’s a boat dive. The cost is even greater than a complaint or bad review. So, for a company to fail, sometimes it starts with paperwork and questions, or basic procedures not being asked or followed. Then, it’s up to the instructors or DMs to make the next determination, with safety being their top priority.
Q: What should someone who has never been SCUBA diving expect on their first dive?
A: Having conducted a ton of DSDs and open water courses with first-time scuba divers, the biggest error they make, because of course the expectation is that this is going to be great, is not having mentally prepared themselves for the mental pressure to come. Some handle it well, and some don’t. And based on how their instructor briefs them, and or given great water and weather conditions, that’s how it starts mentally, getting them in the right mind frame to meet those great expectations. So, I’d say with what to expect, think of it like your first-time rock climbing or driving a car or riding a bike. Take it slow and balance yourself out mentally and physically, should be the expectation for a great experience.
Q: What should someone do to prepare for their first dive?
A: Sleep! I say that because not getting enough sleep can affect them mentally and physically of which scuba diving requires both to be in good health. First-time divers who are conducting it the day after a bad night's sleep or very little sleep or worse none at all, almost always have stress and physical issues. I’ve even had to cancel dives because you could see the customer was mentally and physically exhausted but determined to go scuba diving. So, sleep and eating a light but healthy meal before beginning are the best ways to prepare.
Q: What advice would you give someone before doing their first dive?
A: Read the medical questionnaire! Be honest when answering those questions and if you’re unsure, consult a doctor and not the company or instructor because they sometimes have financial interests as their priority, not your safety. Too many times I’ve had people who have lied on their medical form from doctors, nurses, judges, lawyers, and professionals who I’ve had to say, “I’m sorry, but I’m going to need a doctor's note signed and stating you are physically and mentally healthy enough for this.” People underestimate just how dangerous SCUBA diving can be and some of the professionals, to whom I’ve mentioned, think they know better, but as an instructor, you have to put your foot down and tell them otherwise or they’re not diving with you.
Q: Why do you think someone should get dive certified?
A: It’s a whole new world to be explored. It’s a mental barrier for some to get passed. It’s a new challenge. It’s a healthy addiction. It’s also an amazing relationship builder. It’s mental meditation for many, and or an extreme rush for others. It’s safe when safety is made the top priority and communication is always maintained.
Ready? Check out our guide to getting your diving certification on Guam.