Scuba Diving for Non Swimmers : A Definitive Guide

Scuba Diving for Non Swimmers

Is it really possible to indulge in scuba diving even if you do not know how to swim? The answer is a resounding yes! Scuba diving for non swimmers has become so much possible especially these days when we are blessed to have the advancements in technology and a bunch of people who are willing to be your diving buddy.

So, forget about shunning away from scuba diving just because you haven’t mastered any swimming lessons. But isn’t it true that the ability to swim is a prerequisite to scuba diving? Yes, it is if you are looking to have this activity as a serious sport to indulge in.

However, if you are just planning to try introductory scuba diving to be able to experience what it is like to be in the depths of the ocean, you don’t really need to be a competent swimmer. 

The History of Scuba Diving

The History of Scuba Diving

Are you looking to enjoy the sight of coral reefs and colorful fishes in the depths of the ocean but you can’t swim? Don’t worry. Just because you do not possess any swimming skills it doesn’t mean that your scuba diving experiences are limited only to watching Nat Geo episodes.

Thanks to Jacques Cousteau and Emile Gagnan. They were the ones who invented the first modern regulator which paved the way for the invention of the underwater breathing apparatus.

Today, this aqualung apparatus has evolved into a better equipment that even a non-swimmer can engage in scuba diving safely.

Shattering the Surface: Unpacking the Myths

Before we plunge into the depths, let’s debunk some myths and misconceptions about scuba diving, particularly for non-swimmers. Who said you can’t enjoy the ocean’s depths without being a proficient swimmer? Not us, that’s for sure.

Myth 1: Scuba Diving is Only for Swimmers

It’s easy to see why people may believe this. After all, scuba diving takes place in the water, and people associate water with swimming. However, the truth is, scuba diving and swimming require different skill sets. While swimming involves propelling oneself through the water, scuba diving involves controlling one’s buoyancy to move vertically and horizontally. In short, you can be a non-swimmer and still learn scuba diving.

Myth 2: Non-Swimmers Can’t Be Safe Divers

Safety is paramount in any sport, and scuba diving is no exception. Non-swimmers can be just as safe divers as swimmers. This is due to extensive safety protocols, training, and equipment designed to keep you safe underwater. Non-swimmers will always dive with a guide or instructor until they are comfortable on their own.

Now, with these myths busted, let’s make a splash and wade into the world of scuba diving for non-swimmers.

Essential Scuba Equipment to Have

Essential Scuba Equipment to Have

What are the equipment that you need to prepare before you take that plunge? The excitement begins when you start choosing a scuba gear that perfectly fits you. Do not fuss about not knowing what equipment to use or which gear is right for you.

Your diving instructor or as what many responsible dive centers call it – a PADI (Professional Association of Diving Instructors) certified instructor will help you select the right gear. The basic equipment you need to discover scuba diving will consist of the following:


Scuba diving is not completely the same with swimming. So, you won’t be needing a swimmer’s flippers. When you are into scuba diving, you are less likely to move your arms. What you need are a good pair of fins that will help you comfortably move from one place to another under water.

These fins are usually made of plastic or rubber. See to it that it perfectly fits on either foot. Non-swimmers and beginner divers may wear one-piece fins that can be easily don or removed. 


A wetsuit is important to keep you warm while swimming underwater. Wetsuits are designed to have the ability to trap some amount of water in between the suit and the diver’s skin.

The body temperature of the diver will keep this water warm as it stays there. So, you can enjoy scuba diving without the risk of getting hypothermia. Wetsuits may either have short or long sleeves. They also come in varying thickness. 

Face Mask

Eye protection is another important equipment for this water sports. Without eye protection, it is impossible for you to enjoy your scuba diving experience. Forget about your regular two-lens swimming goggles. These will not serve you well when you’re beneath the depths of the water because they do not cover your nose.

Therefore, you should look for that one-piece face mask that covers your eyes and nose. This face mask will  prevent water from getting into your nose while allowing your eyes to clearly see the amazing marine life.

Breathing Apparatus

Without this equipment, you will never be able to enjoy exciting underwater activity. You won’t even be able to swim your way to the depths of the ocean without this device. The breathing apparatus includes an air tank and pipes. These are the two most important equipment you need when scuba diving. This is also what sets scuba diving apart from snorkeling and other water activities. 

The breathing apparatus that you will be using is one reason why such activity that you are about to indulge in is called SCUBA. This is the acronym for Self-Contained Underwater Breathing Apparatus. This comes in a large aluminum tank which does not contain oxygen but compressed air instead.

The top part of this tank is where you will see four pipes. Two of these will be attached to your mouthpiece. One pipe will be used for breathing through your mouth. This pipe will not be blowing air into your mouth.

Those who experience scuba diving for the first time may find themselves sucking in too hard. You just do your normal breathing and then enough air will come out freely from the pipe that is attached to the tank. The other pipe will serve as your spare. The third pipe is connected to a gauge and the fourth pipe is connected to your dive jacket. 

Weight Belts

Your compressed air tank and dive jacket will help you stay afloat and such function may seem counter intuitive to your aim of being able to go beneath the surface pf the ocean. Thus, the need for weight belts so that you can sink  gradually and in a more controlled manner.

This belt is equipped with lead weights. The amount of weight that will be put on this belt will be decided upon by your diving instructor. Non-swimmers, fat divers and those who have no experience with scuba diving will have more weights on their belt. 

Why do they need more weights? Because fatter divers, non-swimmers and first-time divers may float easily because they tend to be more buoyant.

On the contrary, experienced divers will need less weights because they already know how to swim or dive in a relaxed manner and they know how to sink easily. A lot of expert divers can go for scuba dive with just one kilogram of weight on their belts.

Dive Jacket

Scuba diving requires the use of a dive jacket which is also equipped with buoyancy control device. It will help you float while it holds the tank. But how can a piece of jacket hold an aluminum tank?

That’s why it is called a “dive” jacket because it is designed specifically for holding the tank that scuba divers need when they are submerged in sea water. It comes with straps that will attach and hold the tank in place.

The tank is placed on the diver’s back. However, it should be carefully placed in a way that the diver’s ability to move his head, arms or legs while under water will not be affected. The diver’s jacket will look much like a vest or a waistcoat. 

The other purpose of the dive jacket is to contain air as it is inflated. This inflated dive jacket will allow the person to easily float at the surface of the water. 

The fourth pipe that is attached to the diver’s jacket enables the diver to easily add air by just pressing a button. Do not forget that it also has another button which you can press should you need to deflate your jacket but please note that doing such will cause you to sink.

Scuba Diving Tips for Non-Swimmers

Scuba Diving Tips for Non-Swimmers

1. Wear the Proper Equipment

Does being a non-swimmer increase your risk of drowning? If you are going for a dive without your safety gear, then the answer is yes. Luckily, using this equipment will help ensure that you can be underwater swimming alongside wonderful and mysterious aquatic creatures without drowning. 

2. Dive with A Certified Diving Buddy

Scuba diving for people who do not know how to swim should not be done without the supervision of a certified scuba diver. He will be the one in charge of your safety while you experience this activity for the first time or as a non-swimmer. Being receptive to what your buddy says will help you learn scuba diving quickly.

Your dive instructor will have complete control of your diving experience underwater.  These are professional who have earned enough training on specific diving procedures and skills. A trained scuba diver must also possess knowledge regarding safety and emergency procedures.

3. Water Confidence is Crucial

Before a non-swimmer could start to scuba dive, he must first develop enough confidence and learn some basic skills on how to maneuver while wearing his scuba gear. Knowing how to swim is also not a guarantee that you will be confident while submerged in waters.

Confidence, coupled with some knowledge on how to move underwater with the help of fins, is enough for a non-swimmer to be able to dive comfortably with an expert. 

Note that being confident when you dive is a crucial factor. If you do not have enough of water confidence you are less likely to enjoy your experience under water. Besides, the more confident you are, the more comfortable you will be while in the water. In turn, you will also be able to enjoy the underwater world.

4. Sign up for Introductory Scuba Diving Lesson

The instructor will be the one in charge of your safety. But this doesn’t eliminate the fact that there are some things that the instructor may not be able to do for you while you are under water. Thus, the need to undergo Introductory Lessons.  

In this lesson, you may also be taught with very basic swimming lessons. This training will be conducted in chosen locations where the water conditions are predictable. This is important to ensure that the swimming environment is just within the instructor’s control as much as possible 

Keep in mind that this introductory lesson does not give anyone the license to scuba dive alone or without the supervision of a professional.   

5. Never hold your breath

 What is the most important rule of this aquatic activity? As a non-swimmer who engages in this underwater activity for the first time, you must bear in mind the number one rule — Breathe continuously. 

Just because you are free from gravity does not mean that you also need to hold your breath. Holding your breath while under water can significantly increase your risk for serious injury. Holding one’s breath can also be fatal. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions

Is snorkeling safe for non swimmers?

Yes, it is definitely safe for individuals who are not able to swim to go snorkeling. For as long as the snorkeler follows safety rules for snorkeling, this fun water activity can be considered safe. If it’s your first time, you should undergo a briefing lesson and try on the equipment first before heading into the waters. 

Can you scuba dive if you are claustrophobic?

Yes, you can. Some skills required in this aquatic sports may prove to be challenging but the key here is to start gradually and then progress to more complicated skills in a slower pace. You can actually practice in a swimming pool. Make sure to communicate with your diving instructor that you have claustrophobia. Rest assured that your condition will be carefully considered as you learn scuba diving.

Can non swimmers do scuba diving in Maldives?

The good news is, yes, you can. But you should never do it without a diving expert supervising you. It is also important to choose the safest location in Maldives when trying introductory scuba diving in Maldives.
The best diving locations here are also home to both wonderful and dangerous sea creatures.

Moreover, these sites will usually have strong currents and other dangerous conditions which could pose much risk for people who are not able to swim well. So, see to it that you consult someone who knows very well the diving locations in Maldives 

Is it illegal to scuba dive alone?

It is not illegal to dive alone. But for safety’s sake you should not do it even if you claim to be a good swimmer and certified diver. This is because being one does not make you immune from the unexpected dangers that could occur under water.

Certified divers always emphasize the importance of having a diving buddy to be able to watch each other’s safety while submerged in the azure waters. 

Ocean water may not always be at its calmest all of the time. There may be times when there are surface currents that you will be swimming against as you head back to the boat. So, how do you dive safely and make the most of the diving experience? Develop water confidence, wear the proper equipment and never do it without a dive buddy.

Conclusion: Dive into a New World

Being a non-swimmer should not hinder your dreams of exploring the underwater realm. Scuba diving for non-swimmers isn’t just possible; it’s a thrilling and enriching journey. Armed with the right mindset, a spirit of adventure, and our definitive guide, you’re well on your way to becoming a part of the global diving community.

Whether you choose to stay a non-swimmer or eventually learn to swim, the underwater world is your oyster. So, are you ready to dip your toes into the exciting world of scuba diving? It’s time to don your mask, fit your fins, and explore the blue like never before. Dive in!

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Lisa Hayden-Matthews

Lisa Hayden-Matthews

An avid Skier, bike rider, triathlon enthusiast, amateurish beach volleyball player and nature lover who has never lost a dare! I manage the overall Editorial section for the magazine here and occasionally chip in with my own nature photographs, when required.

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