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The Psychology of Scuba Diving



By: Karen Pietrantonio

I am not a diver; at least, not yet. I am excited to learn to dive and yet a little bit nervous about the whole process. There seems to be so much to learn about how the body reacts to pressure and the mix of gas in the diver’s tank. It made me very curious about the kind of personality that is drawn into this “extreme” sport.

It seems that divers take up the sport at various ages, from childhood into their “twilight” years, and for various reasons; however, it seems that only a small percentage of people who become certified divers will continue to enjoy the sport throughout their lifetimes. According to one instructor, it is about five percent. Which leads to the question: “Why?”


I interviewed several divers, from basic open water divers to instructors and industry professionals; I asked them why they dive and what diving does for them. The answers were as varied as the divers’ personalities.

One teenager, Sarah, says that she enjoys it because it gives her the opportunity to do something with her father and she feels “accomplished” after a successful dive. She earns bragging rights because most of her friends are not divers. Matthew, age 18, has been certified since he was 13 years old and primarily dives as a family activity – his parents and two brothers are also divers. He states that he loves diving because he loves the ocean and it’s fun and interesting to see what’s underneath you in the water.

Sal, a 28-year-old dive master, calls diving the “ultimate freedom.” He says that even when you’re with a dive buddy, you’re basically alone because the buddy might not be really paying attention. Forty-seven-year-old Coz states that diving is the closest that human beings can get to actually flying. “You’re so free to be at whatever ‘altitude’ you want, and swoop down on things deeper than you,” he told me. Johnny, a mental health professional, dives for the relaxation and peacefulness that he feels in the water.

J.B., age 51, says he does it because there’s no one down there complaining or yelling; it’s quiet and the diver is by himself. He says that diving is calming and relaxing; while forty-one-year-old Tony says that diving is the ultimate peace. “You’re down there, face-to-face with God’s great creations that we weren’t born to live among, in their environment. God gave us this way to experience this,” he said.

Peter, an instructor with decades of scuba experience, started as a commercial fisherman who had to learn to dive in order to perform certain duties of his job, but now he dives because “it’s really calming to just focus on what you’re seeing and let everything else just go away,” he says. He teaches it because he wants other divers to be as safe as possible.

Thomas is also an instructor with long experience; he began diving as a father-son activity and fell in love with the sport. Like so many of the others I talked with, he finds peace and freedom beneath the waves. Sean, a scuba professional, always loved the water; he says that growing up, if he was near a body of water, he was determined to find out what was in it. He says he has always been fascinated by marine life and that when diving, “you’re exploring, and it’s incredible.”

Relieving Stress and Anxiety

While scuba diving is considered an extreme sport because of the potential for injury and possible death, it does not attract only adrenaline junkies. People from all walks of life – every race, socioeconomic background, ethnicity, religion, and gender – are drawn to the sea. Or beneath the sea. Psychologically, recreational divers seem to be no different from people who do not dive, with one exception: divers seem to have realized that this sport is an excellent outlet for reducing stress and anxiety. It is a temporary escape from the cares of daily life – just ask almost any diver.

Among adult divers, there seems to be an underlying theme of peace and freedom as the primary reasons for engaging in scuba diving even though a 2008 study showed that the top three motivators for divers to engage in scuba were for fun, to be with similar personalities, and to explore and see marine wildlife (Lusby and Cottrell, 2008). All the divers I spoke with suggest that when they dive, they find a quietness that exists nowhere else; they find peacefulness that cannot be found in daily life. And while this “extreme” sport can be dangerous, it is also liberating, peaceful, relaxing, and fun. One might suggest that there is something almost magical about the underwater world and something freeing about the sport of scuba diving.

To find out more about International Training, visit

From its humble beginning in 1994 to today, the group of training agencies Scuba Diving International (SDI), Technical Diving International (TDI), and Emergency Response Diving International (ERDI) form one of the largest diving certification agencies in the World – International Training. With 24 Regional Offices servicing more than 100 countries, the company today far exceeds the original vision the founders had when they conceived the idea on a napkin, sitting at a kitchen table in the early 1990’s.

Dive Training Blogs

14 Divers You Do Not Want To Be On A Scuba Diving Charter Boat! (Watch Video)



We’re counting down some of the scuba diving etiquette faux pas that I see week in, week out on dive charter boats. I’m giving you my best advice to not become ‘THAT’ diver and stay in the good graces of you Charter Boat Scuba Captain and Crew.

This is stuff they just don’t teach you during your PADI Open Water Course! The unwritten rules of scuba diving. Good behavioral habits to develop to be the scuba diver that everyone looks forward to having on their dive boat.

I’m drawing from my experience as a charter boat Captain, but also asked a whole bunch of my friends in the Scuba Diving business for their input on what divers do to drive them crazy! Thanks for your input!

I’ve been asked for this video a bunch. Let me know in the comments which diver stereotypes I missed!

Thanks for watching!



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Dive Training Blogs

My Dive Buddies Episode 3: Jimmy Gadomski’s Sunken Treasure (Watch Video)



My Dive Buddies Episode 3: Jimmy Gadomski’s Sunken Treasure! I’ve brought in my good dive buddy Jimmy Gadomski to the dive locker to regale you with stories from his treasure hunting exploits. We’re also talking the difference between being a recreational dive boat captain and a technical dive boat captain and discussing what has gone wrong with so many near-misses/almost-accidents.

Jimmy is one of those great guys who can’t walk past a muddy puddle without wondering what is at the bottom of it. He shares his insight on how he decides if a student is ready to start tec training and how to train a dive master to run tec trips. He also makes me killer jealous with his stories of diving the wrecks of the Great Lakes – something I was supposed to also do until COVID-19 got in the way!

And as always, Jimmy faces the 10 questions we ask everybody.

Here are the timestamps:

  • Intro: 00:01
  • Jimmy’s jobs: 01:03
  • How Do You Decide If A Potential Student Is Ready For Tec? 02:15
  • Considerations for running a Tec Charter boat: 04:18
  • Service and Safety in Tec Diving: 05:47
  • What’s happening with all these near misses this summer? 06:46
  • How can the Tec Diving community identify safety concerns? 10:12
  • Show and tell! 13:51
  • Gold and silver coins: 16:36
  • Great Lakes diving: 18:52
  • 10 Questions We Ask Everybody: 20:50 Cheers! 22:48

You can connect with Jimmy on Instagram:

I really hope you guys enjoy watching this series of videos as much as I enjoy making them or else it wouldn’t be fair!

Thanks for watching. D.S.D.O James

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