This month, Marg Baldwin encourages clubs to deliver Experience Snorkelling sessions for those preparing for their summer holidays.

How many people do you know who go off on holiday and try snorkelling and come back with a less than enjoyable and often harrowing experience? We, the snorkellers of BSAC, can enhance the holiday fun and safety of our friends and acquaintances by inviting them to one of our Branch nights and taking them through Experience Snorkelling.

Today, I have done just that for two mature people who are off on a ‘holiday of a lifetime’ to the Maldives where they want to see the corals and fish for themselves first-hand. Nerves were clearly on display at the start but after less than an hour in the water following our progressive step by step approach to snorkel teaching, there were clenched fists of achievement and broad smiles. I am confident they will be happy and safe snorkelling on their holiday.

Experience Snorkelling sessions

This should be fun whilst aiming to increase the students’ in-water confidence. It should start in shallow, waist-deep water to build up the students’ level of comfort. Introduction of basic skills should not be rushed because the pace at which confidence building can occur varies according to individual student’s needs and previous in-water experience.

At the end of the session students should:

  • Be able to fit fins
  • Understand the key features of a face mask and be able to correctly fit and clear it on the surface
  • Be able to correctly fit and clear a snorkel by blowing
  • Be comfortable breathing from a snorkel whilst floating face down on the surface
  • Be comfortable finning forwards, stopping and turning around whilst breathing from a snorkel
  • Attempt surface dives – optional depending on student confidence
  • Understand that an ‘OK’ signal is a question and answer
  • Understand that, if going on holiday and snorkelling:
    • Stay shallow - you are a beginner
    • Don’t touch marine life
    • Always have someone watching you and make sure you can always see them
    • Remember body protection, particularly if snorkelling in hot sunshine – t-shirt, hat
  • Understand that BSAC offers snorkelling courses through its Clubs and Centres

Remember there is an Experience Snorkelling pack with a certificate of achievement, free to order from the BSAC Shop for Branch Officers and Centres.

Encourage knowledge of fish and marine identification

Knowing what you are looking at is an important part of staying safe in the sea particularly in warm waters. If your Experience Snorkellers are going on a tropical holiday, is there an Aquatics store/centre near you where they can go and see tropical fish before they go? Wherever the destination, encourage them to obtain a waterproof field guide to help identify what they are seeing. Knowledge enhances enjoyment and safety.

Relevant safety advice

Remember the S for Safety and D for Discipline of your pre-dive briefing (SEEDS), i.e. equalisation, no hyperventilation, plan the dive - dive the plan; one up one down. These are all things that we, as regular snorkellers, take for granted but are so important in the overall safety of our activities. Following this up with the need for sun protection and the importance of look don’t touch and if you are not comfortable with the water conditions, stay on the side – there is always another day. Then our friends and acquaintances will come back with stories of a happy and safe holiday.

Think SAFE – Snorkel SAFE

Marg Baldwin
Snorkel Instructor Trainer

Find out more about snorkel training


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