Until one week ago, the first image that sprung to mind when someone mentioned diving to me was of Tom Daley springing from a platform into complicated somersaults. I am as new as can be to scuba diving, and I have quickly learnt that, like any other sport, scuba diving has its own language. There are terms that I had never heard before, terms that I thought meant something else, and new names for pieces of equipment I, and many others who are ignorant of diving, have always called by another descriptor.
My main terminological error in this regard was describing cylinders as ‘tanks’. I was overheard by an instructor, who reminded me that we were not in a warzone and is continuing to tease me over my ignorance. Other mix-ups that are common (but which I have avoided, thankfully!) are to call fins, ‘flippers’ and masks, ‘goggles’. These mistakes are easily forgiven, quickly corrected, and will inevitably result in gentle ribbing. If I’m honest, being teased just made me feel like I was part of the team!
A mistake which I was not so easily forgiven for was my calling a drysuit a wetsuit. When I admitted that I had never actually heard of a drysuit, the reaction made me wonder if I had committed a crime! What followed was a long and complicated explanation which boils down to the fact that drysuits keep you dry and wetsuits … don’t. My response of ‘Why would anyone wear a wetsuit?’ was met with chuckles of amusement.
As I’m further immersed into the world of scuba diving, the language which at first left me utterly confused is now becoming part of my own vocabulary. Yesterday, on my second trip to Cirkewwa, I was able to participate in a few conversations instead of listening with struggling comprehension. At first, the terminology can be intimidating and make a newbie nervous about fitting in to the diving world, but don’t worry! For every mistake I made, there are ten wonderful divers happy to help me and congratulate me when I understand a new concept. Hopefully, my victory over the words will extend into the water!