Many divers ask about how to prepare for their upcoming rebreather class. If you purchased a new rebreather, it is likely that the manufacturer has shipped your rig to your instructor and you haven’t even had a chance to get acquainted with it. Contact your instructor to ensure that you have all the auxiliary gear necessary to complete your class. This might include things like a bailout tank and regulator or DSMB with reel.
The first day in the water can be very frustrating. Divers with excellent skills find themselves reduced to the level of neophyte in new equipment. Just remember, if you weren’t going to make mistakes, then you wouldn’t need the guidance of an instructor! Your instructor knows that you will be a far better diver as soon as they are not looking! Nothing can prepare you for the new experience of buoyancy on a rebreather.
You can prepare yourself for the academic work. You should be very comfortable with the concept of partial pressures and be able to quickly calculate the partial pressure of a gas at a given depth… while you are in the water. You should read the entire rebreather manual for your rig and review the materials in your student kit. Complete any Knowledge Reviews that are included in your student kit. Refresh the knowledge and skills from the Nitrox or Advanced Nitrox level of training and be very comfortable with task loading. Are you comfortable swimming without a mask? Shooting a lift bag? You will be asked to perform these skills wearing the rebreather, so ensure your general competence on open circuit.
Most importantly, be physically and mentally well. Don’t plan on late nights visiting friends or partying. A rebreather class is intense and draining. You need to be sharp and well rested.
A rebreather class is very experiential. The academic concepts and skills all come together through in-water training and practical hands on exercises. What seems a little fuzzy in the text book, will make sense once your instructor has demonstrated a skill and you have had the chance to practice it. There is nothing more important than lots of time in the water and lots of repetition of skills.
So, pack your sense of humor and patience. It may be awkward at first, but it is the beginning of an exciting new world of diving.