If you have ever asked the common question highlighted in the title above, you may have heard the phrase/joke that experienced divers are quick to respond with of “divers roll backward so they don’t roll backwards into the boat”
As funny as it is, it doesn’t really explain why all divers dive in backward, does it? If you are still feeling in the dark about the reasons why, then stick with us as we look at this subject in a lot more detail.
Why d0 Divers Dive Backwards?
Interestingly, the backwards roll only works if the boat you are launching from is only three to four inches or less from the water’s surface. Any more and the physics just don’t work. After getting your gear on, you need to sit at the gunwale facing away from the water. You then need to make sure the area you are rolling backwards into is completely clear.
You then use your right hand on the regulator to secure it while the tips hold your mask. That leaves your left hand free to secure any hoses that are dangling and loose or secure your facemask, any strapping you have over your head towards the back.
Failing that, if you don’t need it for anything else you could just put it at your side. Now tuck your head and chin into your chest and allow yourself to fall backwards into the water. Once you are under the water, let yourself acclimatize and then signal to the team on the boat you are okay.
Now you understand how what about the why?
Why is this the Popular Way to Enter the Water?
There are a number of good reasons why divers use the above method for entering the water than others.
1. Helps Keep the Boat Stable
If you are diving from a rigid inflatable boat (RIB) or a similar small boat, backward rolling is the best option. The reason being that smaller boars like these have gunwales that are either lower are less sturdiness, which means you are unable to simply stand up and step into the water.
Another aspect to consider is the effect getting off the boat is going to have on the boat. For a less dramatic and unsteady rock, use the backward roll.
2. Better for Your Body
Regardless of how far you are falling, falling onto your back is easier on your body. Especially when you have a heavy pack and tank too.
4. Gives You More Control Over Your Diving Gear
You can protect your gear and equipment when you are rolling in backwards. It also means you avoid getting water in your mask, an all-too-common occurrence if you go headfirst into the water.
As diving is a hugely personal experience, it is important that you find the right method of entering the water that works best for you. In our humble opinion, like so many other divers, we recommend using the backward roll, and if you are not going to do the backward roll that you try the seated entry or the giant stride.