Sunday February 16 2020
July 22, 2015

Removing Mask: A Challenging Dive Skill

Majority of student divers and inexperienced certified scuba divers find this basic skill difficult. They have the fear to perform mask removal.

The reason behind this fear is that we are evolved/created (choose the one you like) to live on land, not underwater.

We eat, drink, dance, walk and see on land. We do these for years and know nowhere else to do such kind of activities!

However one day, a bald scuba instructor like me takes you into the ocean and wants you to breathe underwater! Isn’t this “a little bit weird already, even though it is fascinating” you are thinking…

Like this ain’t enough, your instructor wants you to perform some diving skills! He/she is demonstrating these skills easily. But when your instructor gives you the “now your turn” signal, those skills start not to be that easy, huh?


You are a certified scuba diver but you completed your diving course a couple of weeks ago.

You were removing your mask, feeling a little bit anxious, but handled it. But you still have a piece of fear against this skill.

What if I need to replace my mask if it is removed from my face in my open water dives one day?!

Do you match with one of these two profiles?


First, you are not alone!

Removing Your Mask UnderwaterAs I have mentioned above, majority of the student divers and unexperienced scuba divers find mask removal a really challenging scuba skill.

Because when you remove your mask underwater, water surrounds your eyes, mouth and nose. When performed in open water as a part of scuba diving training, salty water may disturb you. This is extremely normal.

In addition to this, we are used to inhale through our nose. This is a reflex for us and it is difficult to control.

However, we should inhale and exhale through our mouth underwater. That’s because we are using a regulator second stage for breathing there.

And when we inhale through our nose when we remove our mask underwater, water comes in! This disturbs us naturally. We need to cough and take deep breaths to overcome this issue, right?

Tips for an easier mask removal

Here are a couple of tips that will help you perform mask removal skill easier than before.

Practice these tips whenever you find time before/after your dives.

Be patient.

Remember that practice makes perfect.

On the surface

Stand in water. Water level should be on your shoulders.

Your mask should be on your face but without the straps on.

Hold your mask with one of your hands.

Stand still, place your regulator’s second stage on your mouth and look down (your face should be covered with water). Relax and watch what is below.

When you feel ready, remove your mask. Do it slowly. You were holding your mask with one hand. So removing it will be easy.

When/if you get disturbed, take your head out of water and then repeat the exercise until you are comfortably breathing without your mask on the surface.


When/if you get disturbed underwater due to the water you inhaled accidentally, don’t panic and try to reach the Mask Removal Scuba Skillsurface immediately.

Think what you are planning to do on the surface. Coughing? Breathing? Swallowing? Remember that you can do anything you do on the surface (land) even when you are underwater.

Breathing? You have a tank and a regulator, so you have air.

Coughing? You can do it underwater. Just hold your regulator’s second stage with your hand not to blow it out of your mouth due to the strength of coughing.

You can swallow when you have your second stage in your mouth, too. Guess what? You can even vomit into your regulator’s second stage underwater.

When an issue occurs underwater, it can be resolved underwater (except some serious one that require first aid, for sure).

Remember these when/if you start to panic and try to reach the surface ASAP. Stop, think and act.

If I sum up, if you find mask removal scuba skill challenging, practice it on the surface while standing in water and always remember that you can do anything you like to do to relax underwater. Just like you do on land.

Do you have a fear about removing your mask underwater?

You will not, after you apply these tips regularly.

Any questions about removing your mask underwater? Use the comment section below and let me answer!

Have good dives.

How to Beat Mask Removal Skill E-Book

This blog post were read thousands of time and hundreds of readers reached me to ask questions about this skill.

I am so happy to help you guys out there who are struggling to perform this skill.

You reached me through Facebook, Instagram (@seamansoul), LinkedIn and all the other platforms to ask your questions and say thank you.

This is priceless for me.

Perfect! But there are still scuba diver candidates here who are reading these lines all around the globe and try to find a solution for this bloody skill.

What I did is, I collected all the questions you asked me on the Internet as well as the one taking place in the comments below and prepared an e-book to be able to help you more and more.

You can find much more details about the mask removal and replacement skill, killer exercises before you perform this skill (first attempt or a seconds trial, doesn’t matter) in front of your scuba instructor underwater in your training dive as well as why this skill is causing a problem for us.

Simply follow the link below (this will take you to, which is very secure as you know) and purchase and read my book which will help you a lot in mask removal and replacement skill.

How to Beat Mask Removal Skill

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About Seaman


Hi, my name is Murat Demirağ. I have been diving since 1996 and teaching scuba since 2005. I wanted to share my knowledge through

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  • melody
    2016-03-11 19:31

    Thank you!… I did my first pool class last night, and this skill totally made me panic. I could not handle it… I am going to practice in the pool (with my snorkel since that is all I have access to between classes)… and hopefully, go into my next pool class with more confidence.

    • Seaman
      2016-03-12 17:40

      Hello Melody,

      Thanks for visiting and your kind comment.

      I can understand you and you are not alone…

      Apply each of the tips I have listed in my article and follow them. If you have any difficulties, please write back to me, so we can solve the issue. No worries, just dive 😉

      You’ll love to become a scuba diver.

      Take care and dive safe.

  • Anne
    2016-06-11 20:02

    Hi, I am also having trouble with this skill. Anything skill having to do with my mask throws my breathing off and it makes me almost hyperventilate. After reading your article, I think I may be getting water up my nose which is making me panic. Only one more open water dive, I think I will practice breathing with my mouth only without my mask in my bathtub with my snorkel.


    • Seaman
      2016-06-13 09:40

      Hello there Anne,

      Thank you for visiting. Whenever you try this in your bathtub, please try to convince yourself that the air you need is just a couple of inches above you and stay calm.

      Follow every suggestion I wrote in my post here and you’ll succeed.

      No worries, getting used to takes some time.

      Please keep on writing here. I want to learn how did it go.

      Dive safe.

  • Anne
    2016-06-21 14:48

    Hi there, Do you have any more tips for getting past this?
    I’ve always wanted to learn to dive and, after several years, finally saved up enough money for a dive holiday. I’m signed up for a 4-day course in Thailand and just finished Day 1. It was absolutely terrible and I feel like my dream of getting dive certified is unattainable because I can’t get this right.
    I can clear my mask when there’s only a little water inside, but I freaked out every time I tried to take my mask off (and didn’t get close to putting it back on again). My instructor seemed to get more and more impatient because I wasn’t getting it.
    Water comes in my nose and I start choking and I found it impossible to not let water in my nose when air bubbles from the regulator were being blown just below my nose with such force.
    I struggle with being underwater without blowing air out of my nose. Could this be the problem or shouldn’t this matter?
    More than anything I want to learn to dive…
    If you have any additional advice on this skill I’d really appreciate it.

    • Seaman
      2016-06-21 18:37

      Hello there Anne,

      What you are experiencing is a well-known situation. Almost every certified scuba diver can understand your struggle. More than 3/4 of my scuba students are hesitating when it comes to mask removal skill. So first of all, you are not alone and this is NOT something that is happening for the first time and found you.

      Two thinks will help you overcome this:

      1- Practice
      2- Relaxation

      What I want from you is to grab a snorkel and mask. Then jump in the water when you are not in training. Water level should be on your chest, not deeper, not shallower.

      Then kneel. Water level must be somewhere on your eye-level. Start to breath through your snorkel until you feel comfortable.

      When you feel ready, take a deep breath and get your snorkel out of your mouth. Now, exhale from your mouth like whistling. When you have low amount of air in your lungs, take your snorkel back, clear it and take another deep breath. Cycle this until you feel pretty comfortable.

      Lastly, remove your mask and breath through your snorkel… Let the water hit your face, you may keep your eyes closed if you are not comfortable with that. Relax, just like you are meditating. Catch your breath. Focus on breathing through your snorkel when your mask is not on your face.

      If you exhale through your nose for the first couple of times and you feel comfortable like that, just go on… After you feel comfortable, switch to exhaling from your mouth.

      Follow these steps, but patience is the key. Never jump to the other step unless you feel comfortable with the current one.

      We, as divers are focusing on the problem, not the solution. What we don’t see clearly is that the mask removal skill forces us because we are not “that used to” with water when our mask is not on our face. When you get used to breath comfortably underwater, you’ll see that this skill will be easy.

      Don’t forget. Practice and relaxation are the key.

      If you follow my instructions, I am sure you’ll succeed.

      Please share your experience after you read these and apply what you learnt. Let’s keep in touch.

      Dive safe.

  • Jenna
    2016-07-12 14:49

    Hello 🙂
    I am so glad to hear I am not the only one who struggles with this. Having to do this skill gave me anxiety to which I had to get out of the water and reschedule my check out dive altogether. I now want to excessively practice this skill so that the next time I do my dive, I will succeed and get certified. For me, my issue is not only having to force myself to not breathe out of my nose once the mask is off (which is such a struggle) but also, I wear contact lenses, any contact that my contact lenses have with water completely destroys my vision. I was told to do the entire process with my eyes closed, however, having my eyes open is what makes me feel like I have more control. Also, even with my eyes closed, reopening them sometimes causes water to creep into my eye and mess up my contact lens. Losing my vision at 30-60 feet underwater isn’t my idea of a good time and definitely makes me anxious just thinking about it. Any time this has happened in the past, I have had to get out of the water to adjust my contact lens which takes 5-10 minutes. The thought of 5-10 minutes without vision underwater makes me anxious. Any advice at all from anyone who may struggle with the same thing would be greatly appreciated.

  • Stephen Poole
    2016-07-13 15:51


    This topic is really interesting, I took my PADI Open Water back in 2014 and the mask removal for me was awful. Like many others I really struggled and always ended up chocking and bolting for the surface. During the course I almost quit as I convinced myself that I couldn’t complete the skill. However, I finally managed to scrap though and complete the course.

    Now, this is where things get interesting, I was effectively a certified diver but still terrified about the prospect of the mask coming off, this filled me with dread and up until a couple of months back I had only dived a few times since 2014.

    My wife completed her PADI last month and I decided to go along and get back in the pool. After reading some of the comments on the internet etc I was determined to overcome this fear. I was on the bottom of the pool and nervously pulled at the skirts of my mask to do a partial flood and practiced clearing, the was fairly straight forward. it was the thought of removing the whole mask that still terrified me. I told myself that all the time I have air to breathe I will NOT drown and I can cough, choke, and even vomit into the regulator, so there is nothing to fear. After a several minutes of internal fighting I was able to removal the mask and put back on albeit rather quickly. I then removed again and breathed slowly and delayed putting the mask back on. I repeated this at least a dozen times. I cannot tell you the feeling of confidence that I was getting, for the first time I actually felt totally at ease and was really looking forward to some proper diving which up until this point had made me hesitant. Since this pool session I have been back twice in recent weeks and have continued to practice this skill. I am now at the point where I am totally comfortable ripping the mask off a swimming around indefinitely without the mask, I breathe easily through my mouth and feel totally at ease. I am really looking forward to diving on the Great Barrier Reef this year with my wife.

    The point I am making is that it is very common for new divers and certified ones for that matter who struggle with this, a neighbor of mine is a Master Scuba Diver and he says he is not comfortable with the skill. The truth is, that with practice anyone can become totally at ease with having the mask off and I would encourage everyone who is remotely uncomfortable with it to practice, as one day it could be invaluable as I found out last week.

    I completed a dive last week in our local lake and my worst nightmare became reality; The visibility in the lake was about half a metre as students had kicked up much slit. I descended to the training platform at 10m but was unable to find my buddy or anyone else, I was going to look for a minute that surface. It was then I was unfortunately kicked in the face, I lost my mask and regulator at the same moment. I was initially panicked and though that my days may be numbered. However after retrieving my regulator and taking a few deep breathes I was able to calm down and think. I started to search the training platform and by good fortunate located my mask quickly. After clearing the mask I made contact with my buddy, signaled all was OK and continued the dive.

    Although slightly terrifying at the time it certainly reinforced my confidence in my diving and mask skills. However, I do wonder what might of happened if I had not practiced this valuable skill to such an extent in the preceding weeks, I can’t but think I would have almost certainly made a panicked swim to the surface.

    I would recommend all divers regularly practice skills especially the ones they are not comfortable with !

    Enjoy your diving and don’t give up, you can all overcome your fears.

    • Seaman
      2016-07-13 23:01

      Hello there Stephen,

      Thanks alot for your valuable comment, buddy. I am sure this will help a lot of readers..

      Kind regards.

  • Dorene Strand
    2016-08-22 17:53

    Hello, this is awesome advice. I didn’t have any experience scuba diving and thought how hard can this be, so I decided to get my scuba cert, thinking this would be a great deal of fun. Well after just completing a two day crash course of extensive emergency training and thinking i actually drowned about three times trying to get my mask back on, I’m so glad I did not give up. After hearing about others who just learned quick lessons while on vacation, I realized that this was the best thing I could have done for myself. I had such a hard time with the mask remove and swallowing or breathing in a ton of water thru my nose, that I seriously almost called it quits. However, my stuborness didn’t allow it. The instructors took me aside and made me feel so comfortable and helped me practice until I completed the drill. I was so proud of myself!

    After thinking about this, I realized one of the issues I was having with this. I do Bikram Yoga every day, I’ve been doing this for years and when we are in flight or fight mode, we take big deep breaths thru our nose, and when my instructor was giving me the “relax, take a deep breath sign” with his hands, it was the same sign we use in yoga to relax and i would breath in thru my nose. Now that I figured it out, I am trying to be more aware of the mouth breathing and not getting them mixed up, which I have to admit is a bit tricky.
    Another thing I realized was that I was having issues getting the mask back on and then the last attempt, I didn’t try to put the entire mask on at once, I just pushed it against my face and cleared it, then I pulled the straps over, this way it felt so easy, once I established clearing the mask.

    Thank you so much for your article, especially for us beginners. It’s a great way to help us not feel so alone that we are having such a hard time with this.

    • Seaman
      2016-08-23 10:23

      Hi Dorene,

      I am proud of you, too. This is really good news for me!

      Let me tell you that your instructor has also done a great job.

      Thanks for visiting and your lovely comment that would help other readers as well.

      Take care and dive safe.

  • Karen
    2016-09-28 15:21

    I just finished my pool certification session and the instructor said I did great, but the mask skill was truly a challenge and has caused me sleepless nights knowing that next week I am going to Cancun and am supposed to do the open water portion there. If I get water around my nose, it causes me such anxiety. I purchased another mask with a purge valve and I am going to go to a pool and PRACTICE!!!!!
    I am also having trouble with my ears since the pool session. It has been a week and I still feel like one ear is stopped up at times. I was told I possibly bruised the muscle that helps with equalization or didn’t equalize properly. please explain to me what I am suppose to be feeling when equalizing my ears.

    • Seaman
      2016-09-30 12:04

      Hello Karen,

      Thanks for visiting. I am sure you’ll master mask clearing skill after you practice. Your new mask with a purge valve will definitely help you with this.

      About ear equalization, please read my post about it here.

      What you are supposed to be feeling when equalizing your ears is “relaxation in your ears.” Sometimes scuba divers may not “feel” they are equalizing, but if you are comfortable during your descent and after your dive, you are ok with your ears.

      You may have have bruised your ear muscle, yes. But that muscle (depending on the damage) will be ok after 2-6 months. So don’t worry about it. However, if it goes on disturbing you, see your doctor.

      If you feel “discomfort” from your ears during your descent, ascend a little bit (till this discomfort disappears) and equalize again.

      What I advise is to start equalization if when you are on the surface, just before you start to descent. Then, go on holding your nose with your fingers and blowing during your descent. In fact, equalizing every two meters is ok, but if you have such an issue, never stop equalizing until you reach max depth of your dive.

      Please inform us about this.

      Hope this helps.

  • Kate
    2016-09-29 21:16

    Hey. I am currently out in Mozambique learning how to dive as I have always wanted to and I want a career in shark research and biology. However I have currently been stuck with this one skill. On one occasion I was able to take the mask off and I felt fine but for some reason I panic again. I went on a dive this morning and felt confident to do it. But as I took my mask off I felt as though I was having a panic attack, and I couldn’t catch my breath. I feel so disheartened as I really want this in my life but I just feel as though I can’t do it. I have another dive tomorrow as this is my last day and it’s the only skill I have left to do. I just don’t know what to do. I am constantly breathing through my nose.

    • Seaman
      2016-09-30 12:07

      Hi Kate,

      Hope you are doing fine.

      This is completely normal, ok? Please relax and go to Anne’s similar question in comments (scroll up a little bit) and read my answer, read it one-by-one.

      I am sure this will help you.

      Don’t hesitate to write to me if you have further questions.

      Kind regards.

  • Ra
    2016-11-03 10:49

    Reading all this is very helpful. During my OWD certification, my instructor was quite firm with me and didn’t want to put up with my inability to remove and clear my mask. To get through the panic I knew was coming, I bit down hard on the regulator just to remind myself that it’s there, and the air is there. I also “purged” it while it was in my mouth to push that air into my body. That helped a lot. After that I hurriedly put the mask back on, cleared it and signaled OK.
    I’m still going to take my mask and snorkel to the pool to keep practising this skill as I’m sure I’ll get kicked in the face some day.

    • Seaman
      2016-11-04 13:35

      Congratz Ra,

      You did a real good job down there, buddy!

      Keep up the good work.

  • Valeria Tucker
    2016-11-28 23:50

    My 15 year old son is currently getting his certification. When practicing the mask removal in the pool, his instructor allowed him to keep his eyes closed and pinch his nose. Is this acceptable to pass this skill in the final OW certification dive?
    I was certified over 20 years ago, but from what I remember, pinching your nose and keeping your eyes closed was not allowed.
    Whats your thought?

  • Seaman
    2016-11-29 11:30

    Hi Valeria,

    Thank you for your comment.

    Well, PADI says “eyes can be closed but pinching nose is not allowed. Actually, this applies majority of the dive systems on the world.

    However, this must be done even in the pool session. Candidate may start the skill by pinching the nose (what I prefer to do in my training dives for my students), but soon the candidate must stop pinching.

    This is something about the instructor, you know. I don’t know what is in his/her mind. He/She might want this skill allowing to pinch in open water, or not.

    My personal thought is that if your lovely son’s instructor let your son to try this skill allowing to pinch, he/she will apply the same in open water.

    Yes, this might be against the standards, but this is the right of initiative of the instructor.

    Best way is to ask your son’s instructor about this.

    I am sure your son will handle this by practicing more.

    Take care and say hi to your son.


  • Evan
    2016-12-02 20:59

    I recently started my confined water courses and I also ran into the panic mode setting in when removing my mask. After feeling this unnatural sensation the first time anxiety would build when i knew my turn was coming up to prove my skills in class. It was so overwhelming it would over power my will to stay under water.

    I found this forum so helpful and encouraging. Last night i grabbed my snorkel and goggles and headed to my local pool to practice. I failed over and over and then i realized what was going wrong for me. When i breath normally a little bit of air was coming our from my nose, this seemed to break a seal in my nose and right after i would feel the in my nasal cavity. I spent another 30 minutes in the pool, with just a snorkel and pinching my nose. When i was comfortable i would release the pinch on my nose and really focus on forcing all air through my mouth. I am so happy to say it worked!!!! I was able to have my face under water and breath for several minutes with out water entering my nose. I still need more practice, but i feel so much better knowing that this is well within my grasp.

    I really felt that this skill was unreachable for me, I was so wrong. What i learned is staying relaxed and focused is key, at-least for me. I am now looking forward to my next confined dives and cant wait to step up to the challenge. Big thanks for all that posted their experiences, you helped me more than you know!! Happy Diving!!!

    • Seaman
      2016-12-03 21:55

      Heellloo Evan,

      Welcome to and thank you for your golden comment.

      I am very glad to see you here.

      You have done a great job with the skill, congratulations!!

      Take care and dive safe.

  • Carrie Stone
    2017-04-05 18:25

    Thank you all so much for your tips! I have always wanted to learn to dive. I passed the course but failed the mask challenge so cannot be certified until I complete it! Very frustrated with myself for flipping out as soon as the water goes up my nose after removing the mask. I am soooo disheartened! I will carefully read all of your trips and suggestions and continue to practice! Thanks to you all for sharing your stories, it is truly appreciated! I am trying it again near the end of the month so here’s hoping….I’m so glad I am not alone with this problem….

    • Seaman
      2017-04-06 10:00

      Hello there Carrie,

      Welcome to divewithseaman family.

      Yeah, buddy. You are not alone.

      What you are experiencing has been experienced by thousands of scuba diver candidates around the globe.

      Read the post above and all the other divewithseaman readers’ comments here very carefuly and you’ll succeed.

      I am waiting for your story here asap.

      Take care and keep us posted.

  • Ava
    2017-07-31 06:24

    I have to do this at 20ft tomorrow in a quarry for open water certification. I’m really really scared because I freaked out while doing it in 10 ft. 🙁

    • Seaman
      2017-08-02 13:07

      How did it go, Ava?

      Is everything alright?

  • maria galea
    2017-08-14 10:33

    I hated this too! :O always loved the sea but removing the mask underwater really got me! Don’t have problem to dive without mask but the problem is im used to holding my nose lol
    my problem is couldn’t cope with breathing from the mouth and controlling the nose ! It was a total nightmare to do it like 3 times , was really on the edge of giving up . Hope next session will be better!

  • Natalie
    2017-08-28 11:49

    I wanted to thank you for this post! I was so anxious about the mask skill but when I read your post and the comments, I decided to just go to the pool and train my skills with the snorkle. My husband helped me by holding the snorkel while I was under water performing the task. I repeated it over and over again and on the day of the “test” the skill worked really well for me. The trick I found was to take in a deep breath through the snorkel/mouth – keep my breath for a second or two and then blow out by the nose. It made all the difference. I wish everyone good luck and don’t give up 🙂

    • Seaman
      2017-08-28 16:20

      Hello Natalie,

      I am glad you did it!!

      Keep up the good work.

  • Erika
    2017-11-05 15:39

    Wanted to say thank you for this post and all of the tips in the comments. I found it really helpful to know that other people were in the same boat as me when it came to freaking out about performing this skill! I was unable to complete it during my confined water training. After reading so many comments and tips I decided I wouldn’t give up so I practiced with my mask and snorkel in my bathtub trying to get used to breathing through my mouth while having water around my nose. I thought I had the hang of that so I progressed to a local pool with the snorkel and mask but I started freaking out again. With the patient support of my partner (who for some reason I can’t fathom was able to do this skill no problem on his first try!) we figured out a tactic that helped immensely. The worst part of this skill for me was taking the mask off and the immediate rush of water that felt like it was going straight up my nostrils. I found that if I breathed out my nose while removing the mask it prevented that initial rush of water and almost made a seal around my nose. Then I was able to take a second and concentrate really hard on breathing only through my mouth through the snorkel. This trick still worked a few hours later when I was back in the pool with all my scuba gear on. I think it also helps to fill the mask with water first before removing it – helps minimize the initial rush of water right up your nostrils. This was seriously one of the hardest things I have ever tried to do, but I am so glad that I persevered and was able to successful complete it in the end. Just keep practicing and telling yourself that you can do it!

    • Seaman
      2017-11-07 17:48

      Hello there Erika,

      Thank you for your golden comment.

      Filling the mask with water first before removing it is an excellent tip!!

      I suggest to do this to all of the readers here, too.

      I am glad you were able to do it and I am so glad that this post helped another scuba diver candidate.

      Have fun and safe dives.

  • Anxious Air Breather
    2018-01-12 15:12

    Thank you for this post. I just did my OW and failed the mask removal once we were 11m down on my second dive. In confided water I struggled but eventually wad able to breath without a mask for a minute.
    I think my anxiety was increased partly I was pushed into a “fast track” 2.5 day course and this test was at the end of a 9 hour day. I asked my instructor to maybe do more training in the pool before my next 2 dives but he said I just had to believe in myself.
    You explained everything in such a great way. When I panicked at 11m I was so worried I would breath through my nose with the mask off that I held my breath and couldn’t make myself use the regulator. I got the mask on finally and was able to clear it but was really upset and tired so I wanted to go up. My instructor calmed me down and we finished the dive but I kept that anxiety.
    When I tried to clear my mask the next day (a skill I was really really comfortable with previously) I had a hard time again because it reminded me of the previous feeling of panic.
    I wish my instructor had been as reassuring and as practical as this post. Your advice of practicing with a snorkel is great as is the removal without and with the strap. I really appreciate the reassurance that I’m not alone and that people can overcome this. I study plankton so SCUBA has been my lifelong dream. I know I can get all the way there. But like you said, I just need to practice practice practice. Thank you so so much.

    • Seaman
      2018-01-14 20:33

      Hello there buddy,

      Thank you very much for your great comment.

      Yeah, for sure you are not alone. 1 out of my 3 dive students experience what you are experiencing right now.

      Well, what I am gonna tell you is that you have been able to beat the hardest part; breathing without a mask.

      What you should do now is to say to your-self “come on, i can breate, i can cough, i can swallow underwater, so i don’t need to surface! I am gonna do it!” then focus on breathing through your regulator 2nd stage, try to relax, think about this post rather than desiring to surface.

      You are very, very close to beat it, buddy. trust me.

      Grab a snorkel and a mask, go get it!!

      Don’t hesitate to write hear whenever you’d like to.

      It is great to know you and even better to have a reader like you.

      Take care and write to us more often.

  • sana
    2018-01-17 11:12

    This article was super helpful and on point, thank you so much.
    I’m reading all the other articles as well, you’re very insightful and encouraging. Thanks!!!

    • Seaman
      2018-01-19 13:07

      Hello there Sana,

      Thanks for visiting and your encouraging comment.

      I am very happy to help you guys there, keep up the good work and thanks for reading all the articles here in

      Dive safe, dive cool.

  • Adrian
    2018-02-11 12:51


    I’ve just finished my 2nd SSI pool session, passed the knowledge test, and all the skills other than clearing a fully flooded mask. As a result, the dive instructor postponed the mask removal until next week (there’s three of us taking the class). He says he’s never seen such case. I can flood the mask, or even take it off under water. In fact, I’m used to snorkeling in the Caribbean with only a snorkel and swim goggles (so I’m used to having my nose exposed underwater). However, after I flood the mask, that little amount of water going up my nostrils prevents me from forcefully exhaling through my nose. No matter how hard and how many times I try, I can’t exhale through my nose. It’s like a valve shuts off and the only air coming out is still from my mouth. I can exhale through my nose no problem even at 12ft down when the mask is only partially flooded. But when it’s fully flooded there’s no way I can push the air forcefully through my nose.

    • Seaman
      2018-02-11 17:00

      Hello there Adrian,

      As SSI says;

      Comfort Through Repetition

      Keep on working on it as suggested in my article above.

      You’ll succeed, no worries.

      We are waiting for your good news.

      Take care, buddy.

  • Tracy
    2018-04-08 03:46

    Hi! This was a great article. My question is about water pressure pushing up into the nose when I take my mask completely off. The pressure makes me feel like the water is going to go up it… in swim team, (at least how I was taught) you breathe in through your mouth and out through your nose. When swimming in the ocean and a wave is coming, I was taught to breathe out through my nose to keep the wave from pushing water up my nose. Can I do this same thing under water and breathe out through my nose?

    Even when I breathe in through the regulator, I feel like water is going to go up my nose. What can I do to combat this? Thanks

    • Seaman
      2018-04-08 11:21

      Hi Tracy,

      Thank you for your question.

      Well, yes, you can start this skill by breathing out from your nose slowly, no worries.

      Some of the dive agencies may require you to complete this skill breathing in and out from your mouth, through your regulator.

      If you are asking this question because you’ll be performing this skill in your open water diver course soon, you better ask your instructor if it is ok to breath out slowly from your nose while the mask is off your face. If your instructor wants you to braeth in and out from your mouth, you can tell him / her that you are a swimmer and have some habits, would it be possible to START the skill by breathing out from yuor nose than switch back to mouth. For sure, he / she will understand this and let you perform the skill this way.

      If you are asking about it in a real dive situation, i mean whil diving for pleasure, not for a course, you can breath out from yuor nose, it is ok without any doubt.

      You can contact me any time through our Facebook page;, or via e-mail

      Hope this helps.

      Kind regards

  • Jess
    2018-06-04 18:31

    Thank you so much for all your tips, this is really helpful. I had the second confined water session of my Open Water course yesterday and left feeling like I failed miserably! On the first day I just about managed to clear my mask on the 3rd attempt, and could clear a partially filled mask with little difficulty. But yesterday I really struggled. I could take the mask off and swim around with my eyes closed and holding my nose, but then after putting it back on, couldn’t clear it, and just inhaled water straight up my nose and had to come up to the surface. This happened 3 times before they gave up on me and moved on to the next skill. I was the only one in a class of 11 people who couldn’t do it, and just felt like a total idiot. That feeling then just stayed with me, and I messed up the skill of breathing from your buddy’s alternate air source too! I simply forgot to purge and inhaled loads of water again, then had to surface. So I failed that one too! Its annoying because I knew this one should have been fine, I was just on edge from not being able to clear my mask! I also was only given one try at this, due to time and air restrictions, so the pressure of having to complete the tasks really doesn’t help either. Again, I was the only one who couldn’t do it! Afterwards the instructor had a word with me about possibly not being able to do the open water dives this weekend if I can’t compete the tasks, which just made me feel really disappointed, and wonder why it was only me who found it so difficult.

    But I’m really glad I googled this because reading your advice and all the posts has made me realise that I’m not just incapable, and that I’m not the only one who can’t do it straight away! So thank you.

    I’m desperate to get my qualification and to enjoy diving, so I’m going to take your advice on board and go to the pool tonight with my mask and snorkel and practice over and over again until I feel more comfortable.

    I then have to go to the pool again tomorrow with the instructors and prove that I can do it or I can’t go on the open water weekend, which is quite nerve wracking, so I hope the practice tonight helps! I just need to learn to stay calm and not breathe through my nose!

    • Seaman
      2018-06-04 21:19

      Hello Jess,

      Have no worries, relax and follow my tips above.

      I am sure you’ll make it!

      Please keep in touch.

      Kind regards

  • Heather
    2018-08-09 04:31

    About a month ago I attempted to complete my open water diving course two days in a row and each time it came to taking my mask off I felt like I could physically not do it. The visibility in the water was very poor and I knew I was going to inhale through my nose as soon as I came to breathe. I ended up panicking every time and having to get out of the water and having to reschedule the class. The worse part about that really shook my confidence was that every other student (about 20) managed to do it with ease and left me incredibly upset and feeling stupid.
    In a couple of weeks I will be retaking this class and feel like my anxiety is at the same state, would it be easier pinching my nose while I remove my mask because I just seem to automatically inhale through my nose no matter how hard I concentrate.

  • Seaman
    2018-08-09 14:02

    Hello Heather,

    Come on, you are NOT alone.

    Other guys in your dive course might form this skill easily, yeah. This shouldn’t make you feel like stupid.. Removing and replacing dive mask skill is not only about a scuba diving course skill, it is about the relationship between you and the water, how much time you spent “with water” in your life.

    It would be definitely better for you to pinch your nose -at least at the beginning of the skill. But there are some exercises you can do on your own before your diving course, like trying in in your hot tub first.

    Mask removal and replacement skill is a subject that has to be discussed as another topic itself.

    I wrote a book about this skill and how to perform it.

    It is available for sale on and its name is How to Beat Mask Removal Skill.

    I advise you to take a look at it.


  • Smashley
    2018-10-03 03:52

    Hi Seaman,

    I earned my Master Scuba Diver cert in April (2018) and admit that taking my mask off still gives me the willies. I do fine with flooding and clearing, and a trickle on a dive isn’t going to ruin my fun. I have been throwing around the idea of becoming a DM (my hubby is an AI and will be doing his IDC in Dec) and the only thing standing in my way is that darned mask clear and removal skill.

    I really appreciate your method of overcoming the fear of this skill. I cannot wait to jump into the pool and practice! When things get hard you have to persevere and push through them.

    • Seaman
      2018-10-03 15:07

      Hello Smashley,

      Thanks for visiting.

      Don’t worry, just practice and never give up!

      You can also read my e-book: How to Beat Mask Removal Skill (and comment on if possible).

      Take care and keep in touch.

      Thank you.

  • Tarryn
    2018-10-21 13:04

    Hi Seaman,

    So I did my Pool dive two days ago and I managed to clear my foggy goggles easily.

    however, removing my mask and putting it back on is the problem…

    I struggled in my knees on the shallow end of the pool but eventually managed to do it, however, when it came to the deep end it totally sent me into a panic.

    Taking it off is easy, breathing & opening my eyes without the mask on is easy, I struggle with putting the goggles back on my face. I feel claustrophobic and like I can’t breathe. I am sure the fear is all in my head but its very difficult to overcome. and I really want to pass.

    my instructor allowed me to finish drive 1 & 2 and he said that next time we will just focus on mask removal. because I need to master that before I can do the ocean dive.

    The whole situation is making me feel pretty stressed out

    • Seaman
      2018-10-23 15:59

      Hi Tarryn,

      That’s much better than not being able to remove the dive mask. You killed the most difficult part, you can remove your mask and breath without it. The rest is about feeling comfortable underwater. What you have to do is to practice it more.

      As far as I understood, you have an understanding and kind dive instructor, which is really important at this point.

      Don’t worry, just keep on focusing and never forget that practice make it perfect!

      What you are experiencing is pretty normal, look at tens of comments above buddy.

      You can also check my recently published e-book from through the link below. It is only focusing on this subject:

      How to Beat Mask Removal Skill

      Thank you for your comment bro.

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