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In a message dated 9/20/01 2:21:01 PM Central Daylight Time,
[log in to unmask] writes:

<<
 I am a new scuba diver and had a terrible time in the certification dives
 with taking my mask off and replacing it.  Is there any secrets to doing
 this without panicking underwater???
  >>
Hello Heather,

This is one of the most important basics that you need to have down pat. It
will eventually happen that you'll lose your mask so please learn this one.

I'd suggest going to a pool with no one around and getting in the shallow end
and starting there. With no one around you can "be yourself" and not be
worried if the first few times you feel the panic.

I'd recommend putting the reg in your mouth and then easing yourself under
WITHOUT your mask. Get to the point to where you feel comfortable just
sitting on the bottom breathing with your regulator. At this point putting
your mask on and off should be alot easier for you.  You'll be surprised how
quick you will master this.

You might want to practice this in different water temps because sometimes
the shock of the cold water on a surprisingly warm face can trigger the panic
reflex.

I hope this helps.

Ray