Some Proper Diving Resolutions to Keep to for 2020
Now that we've had a bit of time to come to terms with the fact that we will fail – or have already failed – at most of the New Year's resolutions we made, here's a few that can be made and perhaps adhered to with the knowledge that they will lead to a better, happier, healthier life through scuba diving
Work on Your Fitness
A commitment to improving one's personal fitness is already a front-runner on the list of New Year's resolutions - and also the list of failed ones. You don't have to be an Olympic athlete to scuba dive but if you've been scoffing the turkey and mince pies over the holidays and sinking them with a few pints of jolly adult beverages, then maybe it's time to think about a Dry January and shedding a few of the pounds that you piled on towards the end of 2019. Saving a bit here and there on booze and cake helps to add funds to the holiday pot, might mean you don't need to buy a new wetsuit, and being that bit fitter will maybe help you to last a bit longer under the water. You don't have to run, you don't have to cycle, you don't need a gym membership or need to feel embarrassed in front of your peers – to start with, try walking for at least 30 minutes a day and use the stairs not the lift, where possible.
One thing that should definitely be on the agenda – especially if you're over the age of 40 – is a medical checkup. High blood pressure is called 'the silent killer' for a very good reason. It affects an awful lot of people, many of whom have absolutely no idea that they even have a medical condition; some of whom will die underwater this year. High blood pressure and undiagnosed cardiac problems are thought to be responsible for the majority of worldwide scuba diving fatalities, but a quick check is easy and, in many places, completely free of charge. A positive diagnoisis might mean you have to change some things, and maybe even cut down on diving, but it's better to find out now than after having a heart attack...
Take a Refresher
Even experienced divers get a bit rusty if they've been out of the water for a little while. Maybe fitness levels and body shapes have changed since the last dive or maybe the surface interval has been so long that you just plain forgot how to use the gear properly. It's pretty normal, and it's why we have refresher courses. You don't necessarily have to book an official program, but a few hours in a pool with an instructor or experienced buddy to help you work the knots out of your system may save a lot of time, stress and even money should you turn up on your next dive vacation with all the underwater grace and poise of a hippo on rollerblades.
Take a New Course
Dive centres like to sell continuing education packages because it makes them more money, right? Well yes, and also no. Learning new things is good for both divers and dive professionals alike. Divers who choose to learn new skills or improve on old ones make for better, safer divers, who will function better in a group, cause less damage to the environment, and increase the overall enjoyment of a scuba diving holiday. Training and experience reduce stress levels and saves lives. Don't knock it just because somebody doesn't like a particular training agency's acronym. Nothing in life is free, and training courses improve the diving world, so there's always a case for adding another string to your bow, feather to your cap, or certification card to your logbook – preferably an electronic version, to reduce plastic waste.
Practice Old Skills
Sometimes, the only time a diver ever performs a skill is on the course they are taking at the time. This is particularly true of rescue courses, although it often includes more fundamental skills such as navigation (I have a guide!) or inflating an SMB (my guide has one!). Taking a bit of time to refresh the skills that aren't part of a basic refresher programme is worth the time and effort. You might be able to join a rescue course at your local dive centre as a 'victim'. It's a bit different if you're on holiday but you can always ask. If you're a bit stuck with navigation, mask clearing, or inflating an SMB – ask your guide or instructor to give you a hand at the end of a dive if it's possible and safe to do so, or round up your buddies for some practice sessions on the house reef.
Invest in Some Gear
If you've been diving for a while with rental gear then perhaps its time to start looking at some of your own. You don't have to go all-out and buy a full set, but having your own mask, fins (and snorkel, if you must) and exposure suit is a good place to start. They are all very personal pieces of gear, especially those tight-fitting wetsuits, which very tightly fit all those hundreds of other people who wore the rental suits before you did. BCDs, computers and regulators are more expensive but they also don't need to cost the earth. A complete, basic regulator set and a can be purchased for less than £250 and will provide all that a warm-water recreational diver will likely ever need. BCDs often require a little more attention to detail, but a good, entry-level jacket can be bought for under £300 and an entry-level computer for £150.
Service your Equipment
If you already have your own regulators then having them serviced if they've been out of the water for a while might be a good idea. Most regs will have a 1-2 year / 100-200 dive service interval but this also presumes that the equipment is being regularly used. It is often the case that being out of the water for a lengthy period of time is worse for dive gear than it being used every day, especially if it wasn't properly cleaned before storage. Metal components can seize, rubber bits can degrade and become brittle, small orifices become clogged. Having your underwater life support system checked before use is generally regarded as a wise decision - and at the very least may spare your blushes when you turn on that tank for the first time on your holiday and then have to ask to borrow a new regulator...
Book a Vacation
It's not so uncommon that people completely and fully intend to book a dive holiday and then something unexpected turns up at work, and then a friend is getting married, or somebody's having a baby, and then it seems like you're running around after all these non-diving people and before you know it you're sitting in the pub listening to a dive buddy regale you with stories from the deep blue yonder and you think: 'this year, I'm going diving.' If you're stuck for ideas then check out our super collection of travel guides – but do not delay; do not wait for the landlubbers' lives to revolve around yours. Do it now. Book today, dive tomorrow.
Subscribe to DIVE
Wait, was that whole article a long-winded sales pitch for your magazine? Well, no, it was sound advice from a former dive professional who knows about these things. But if you're going to make some New Year's resolutions to improve your scuba diving life then you could do far worse than subscribe to one of the best dive magazines on the planet, no? The art of the printed word might be fading, but most certainly not in our quarterly coffee-table print issue, where the art of print remains as important as the art of diving. Available in print anywhere in the world with a postal service, or in a digital version for divers on the go...