Cedar Rapids, IA
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Scuba Diving FAQ

Scuba Diving Frequently Asked Questions

Learn to Scuba Dive Today

1. Is learning to dive difficult?

No, it's probably easier than you imagine -- especially if you're already comfortable in the water. The PADI entry-level course consists of pool diving, knowledge development and open water dives. The course is performance based, meaning that you progress as you learn and demonstrate knowledge and skill.  Iowa's Independent Scuba Educators are a highly trained and very professional dive staff, utilizing some of the best equipment available and the best facilities and teaching methods.

2) So, where do you dive around here? (Iowa!)

We normally answer this question with a smile and a simple "about 1200 miles south" answer!  There are some local lakes with slight visibility and more clearer waters in Wisconsin and Illinois (see Midwest Dive Destinations) and the Great Lakes feature world class wreck diving.  Most of the divers in the area though find the warm, clear waters off of some tropical island more interesting.  So you'll find that once you become a certified diver, that those sandy beaches with palm trees, warm clear water and an abundance of exotic marine life may become one if not all of the vacations you take each year.

3. How long does it take to become a certified scuba diver?

The PADI Open Water Dive Course is performance based, which means that you earn your certification when you demonstrate that you've mastered the required skills and knowledge.  The complete PADI Certification basically is conducted over two weekends.

4) Do I really have to dive in a lake to get certified?  I heard I can do the 4 dives on my vacation to the Caribbean?

No you don't have to dive in a lake and you can do your 4 certification dives on your vacation to warmer, clearer waters.  It's called a "referral"  When you have completed the Part 1 (Knowledge Development and Confined Water) You will receive paperwork indicating this completion.  All you need is a PADI Dive Center at your destination to complete your training.   We are happy to help you locate a center in the location you are traveling too.

5) Why should I train through an Iowa Independent Scuba Educator?

Quite simply, because they are best at what they do and we think you will think so also.  These professional dive educators are a highly trained team with your training, safety and enjoyment as our #1 priority.  They make it a point to utilize the PADI system of diver training to the fullest.  The courses are well organized and structured.  The equipment is new technology and expertly maintained.   They love what they do and they (and you) will have a lot of fun doing it.

6. How old do I have to be to become a certified diver?

You must be at least ten years old to receive a Junior Open Water Diver Certification. Ten and 11 year old Junior Open Water Divers must dive with a certified parent, guardian or PADI Professional to a maximum depth of 12 metres/40 feet. 12 to 14 year olds must dive with a certified adult. At age 15, the Junior certification upgrades to a regular Open Water Diver certification.

6. Are there any special qualifications or considerations to participate in a scuba class?

No. Generally speaking, anyone in good average health and at least 10 years old can participate. You will, however, complete a medical questionnaire. If anything on the questionnaire indicates a reason to be cautious about diving, you'll need check with a physician to make sure you can dive.

7. Do I have to be a great swimmer to be certified as a PADI Open Water Diver?

No. You need to be a reasonably proficient swimmer and comfortable in the water.  We require you to demonstrate you can snorkel 300 metre/yard with a mask, fins and snorkel. You'll also perform a 10 minute tread/float

8. Is scuba diving expensive?

No. Like any hobby or recreation, you can invest however much you want, depending upon your interest level. Scuba Centers rent equipment, so you can invest in equipment over time, renting what you don't have.   Trip costs are really dependent on where you want to travel, just like any vacation or sport.  There is some great lake diving just a few hours from Cedar Rapids, or awesome ocean diving in as close as Florida.  You can also find sponsored group trips to some pretty awesome warm water destinations.  Your diving travel costs can be flexible enough to accommodate even the tightest budget. Most people find the costs of scuba diving similar to the cost associated with snow skiing or mountain biking.

9. What equipment do I need before I take scuba lessons with an Iowa Independent Instructor

We supply all equipment for your course.  You just need a swimsuit and a towel.

10. What's in a scuba tank? Oxygen?

Recreational divers breathe air, not oxygen. The air in a scuba tank is like the air you're breathing but is also filtered to remove impurities.

11. How long does a tank of air last?

Since people breathe at different rates and as you go deeper you consume air faster, there isn't any one answer. Because of this, divers carry a gauge that lets them know how much air is in the tank. However, divers in calm, warm water from 5-10 metres/15-30 feet can spend about one hour underwater with an average tank.

12. My ears hurt when I dive to the bottom of a pool. Won't they hurt when I scuba dive?

Your ears hurt because of the water pressure on your eardrum. In your scuba course, you'll learn simple techniques to equalize your ears to the surrounding pressure, much like you do when you land in an airplane.

13. In the movies and on TV, divers are always running into sharks or eels. Should I be concerned about marine animals?

Most aquatic animals are passive or timid. A few do bite or sting, but you can avoid these by not touching them. Divers aren't natural prey for sharks and therefore shark attacks are rare. 

14. Is scuba diving dangerous?

No, but there are potential hazards, which is why you need proper training and certification.

15. I need vision correction. Is that a problem?

No. If you wear soft contact lenses it should shouldn't be a problem while you dive. However, if you wear hard contacts, you'll want to dive with gas permeable lenses. See your eye doctor for more information. Another option is to have prescription lenses put into your mask which are  available, There are even masks and lenses in stock that correct nearsighted vision with along with stick on magnifiers for your mask if you need a little help reading gauges.  

16. If I have been diving, how long should I wait before flying?

The dive medical community offers the following recommendations for flying after diving, whether you’re using the RDP, another table or a dive computer:

For Dives within the No-Decompression Limits

  • Single Dives - A minimum preflight surface interval of 12 hours is suggested.
  • Repetitive Dives and/or Multiday Dives - A minimum preflight surface interval of
    18 hours is suggested.

For Dives Requiring Decompression Stops

  • A minimum preflight surface interval greater than 18 hours is suggested.

With all dive tables and computers, no flying after diving recommendation can guarantee that decompression sickness will never occur. These guidelines represent the best estimate presently known for a conservative, safe surface interval for the vast majority of divers. There may always be an occasional diver whose physiological makeup or special dive circumstances result in decompression sickness despite following the recommendations.

17. What if I am a certified diver and have not dove for a while?

You can do a refresher course called a "Scuba Review" where you can brush up on your dive skills by completing a series of skills with one of our professional dive staff during one of our pool sessions.   Send us an email if you wish more information.