SCUBA Frequently Asked Questions

Group of Campus Rec members on a boat

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1. How long does the PADI Open Water Diver course take?

It depends on you, but usually 3-4 days. Learning to dive is skill based, so the duration of the course is determined by your progress in developing your skill level, comfort, and confidence. We use PADI eLearning prior to your program to reduce the amount of time needed for the overall course and host in-person training over weekends to reduce overlap with your academics.

2. I am not a strong swimmer, is this going to be a problem?

You do not need to be a competitive swimmer to learn how to dive, but there are some minimum requirements for safety reasons. You will need to complete a 200-yard swim (any stroke and it is not timed), tread water or float for 10 minutes, and complete some snorkeling skills taught in class. The most important consideration is that you feel comfortable in the water. If you are not, then it is recommended you take a couple of swim classes with Campus Rec Aquatics to improve your confidence.

3. Do I need to have my own scuba gear?

No, the ASI Scuba Dive Center provides all the equipment necessary to dive in the coastal California waters. If you do own personal scuba gear, you may be able to use it during the course, as long as it is in good working condition and is approved by the Scuba Dive Coordinator. If you are thinking of investing in your own gear, talk with the Scuba Dive Center Coordinator for recommendations and referrals.

4. Can I still learn to dive if I do not have a buddy?

Yes, that is not a problem! You will meet new people, and we will help you find buddies to dive with during the course. We pride ourselves on being inclusive and our staff creates a program that is sociable and welcoming!

5. I wear glasses, can I still dive?

Yes, objects underwater seem bigger and closer than on land. One option is to dive in contact lenses (daily disposables are best in case you lose one during some of the mask skills which can happen from time to time). If you do not wear contact lenses, then a prescription mask is a great option. It is a good idea to invest in one of your own if this is the case. If you are far sighted (have difficulty reading but are okay with distances), then you can buy prescription stickers that you apply to the lower section of a regular mask, much like wearing reading glasses. The Scuba Dive Center Coordinator can help you find a solution to this issue.

6. What happens if I run out of air?

During your PADI Open Water Diver course, you will be taught how to monitor your air supply frequently and you will learn that we never dive until the tank is empty. We always end the dive before air supply becomes an issue. You will also learn several ways to deal with an “out of air situation” safely, so in the unlikely event that you do run out of air, you will have the skills required to manage the situation.

7. How long will my dive last?

This one is tricky to answer because it depends on how quickly you breathe. Most people have some nerves before their first dive which means beginners use their air faster than experienced divers. Other factors also affect air consumption such as body makeup, depth, fitness, sea conditions, how effectively you use your fins and even water temperature. Your first dive should be a minimum of 20 minutes and on average first dives usually range from 25-40 minutes. You will not know until you try but one thing’s for sure, your air consumption will improve the more you dive.

8. How deep will I have to dive?

The first two dives of the PADI Open Water Diver program are a maximum of 40 feet (12 meters) and the third and fourth dives are a maximum of 60 feet (18 meters). Your dives should be at least 20 feet, but you DO NOT have to go to 18 meters. Talk to your instructor if you are anxious about depth.

9. I am not much of a reader; will I struggle with the dive theory?

No! The PADI Open Water Diver course is designed to be accessible to everyone, no matter what your preferred learning style is. The program is not just reading (although there is some), you will also be able to learn the theory through video presentations, practical demonstrations, and practice. If you are worried about “cramming,” the PADI eLearning option allows you to study from home, at your own pace prior to starting the course. If you are a smartphone or tablet user, then try the PADI Open Water Diver Touch Version which you also complete at home and provides a more interactive way of learning.

10. Will there be dangerous marine life?

This depends on where you are diving and what you understand by “dangerous”. In some areas there are corals or plants which may sting if you brush up against them. Most marine animals do not attack and have stingers for defensive reasons only. Your instructor will explain to you how to interact with marine life in an observatory way which means you will experience some great encounters with many wonderful species. The golden rule is not to touch anything! Most humans would be annoyed if something they did not know came into their environment and poked them, so we do not do it to the marine life.

11. Can I receive college credit if I participate in a certification or professional training course?

Yes! You can apply to receive semester credit hours for a scuba course taken with the ASI Scuba Dive Center. The number of semester credit hours you can receive will depend on what course you enroll in. Your digital badges and official transcript can be sent to the college of your choice from Credly, the world’s leading provider of digital credentials. Email us at, for more information on how to get started.