Mask Skills

Clearing Water From a Mask

Modern masks do a good job of creating a seal around your eyes and nose, but they are not perfect. Actions such as smiling or opening your mouth can cause leaks, and you may even want to intentionally flood your mask to remove fog from the inside of the lens. To clear your mask:

  1. Look down and take a breath. Be careful not to inhale through your nose.
  2. Press the top of the mask's frame to maintain a tight seal at the top of the skirt.
  3. Slowly exhale through your nose as you tilt your head back. The air you exhale is trapped in the mask and forces the water out through the bottom of the mask.
  4. Repeat these steps if the mask is not completely cleared after one attempt.

Breathing Without A Mask

Under normal conditions your mask prevents water from entering your nose. But if your mask floods with water or falls off, you'll have to concentrate on breathing only through your mouth until you correct the problem.

Some students have little or no difficulty with this skill, while others will have a certain level of discomfort with the idea of breathing without a mask. For those students, the following tips will help you gain comfort with this skill:

  1. Exhale through your nose to force out any water that enters your nose.
  2. Tilt your head slightly forward. This helps trap the air in your nose.
  3. If you wear contact lenses, you may wish to close your eyes. This helps prevent accidental loss of lenses while your eyes are in contact with the water.
diver breathing without a mask

Removing and Replacing a Mask

Once you've mastered breathing without a mask and clearing water from a flooded mask, you'll be able to remove and replace the mask while underwater. You'll use this skill in the event your mask slips off, or if you need to remove the mask to correct its fit. To replace your mask underwater:

  1. Hold the mask so that the inside is towards your face and the snorkel is on the left side.
  2. Using your thumbs, position the strap above the skirt.
  3. Place the mask against your face and clear the mask. Clearing the mask before you pull the strap over your head helps prevent water from being forced up into your nose.
  4. Pull the strap up over your head, and clear the mask again if necessary.