Do you have to be a strong swimmer to start scuba diving?

 “Do you have to be a strong swimmer to start scuba diving?” is one of the questions people ask who like to scuba dive for the first time as scuba diver.

Do you have to be a strong swimmer to start scuba diving?

The Gili Islands are located on the North West side of Lombok. And these islands are popular for scuba diving and snorkeling. The crystal clear water, the amount of fish life and the amount of turtles around the islands are famous all around the world. There is a reason why the Gili Islands are called as “the turtle capital of the world”.

Before the COVID-19 pandemic, the Gili Islands were a popular holiday destination for western tourist. And the tourist visited them for 4 till 7 days. They came to the Gili Islands for relaxing, yoga, cooking classes, the beautiful beaches, horse riding or snorkeling.

One of the other main activities on the Gili Islands is diving. On every island, Gili Air, Gili Trawangan or Gili Meno, are diving centres. These dive centers offer diving courses and fun divers for tourists who are interested to scuba dive.

Diving for the first time

But most of the tourist never dived before. And they like to experience scuba diving around the Gili Islands.  “Do you have to be a strong swimmer to start scuba diving” is one of the questions when people pop in the dive shops.

There are a few answers for this question:

The people can start scuba diving at 3 different ways; as a:

Introduction Dive

  • To start an introduction dive, or called by PADI Discover Scuba Diving program, the participant doesn’t have to be a strong swimmer. The PADI instructor manual shows that even the participant should not have any swimming skills. The Discover Scuba Diving program is not a certification level. The participant has to redo the whole program when he/she likes to dive again at another dive shop.
  • Oceans 5 offers Discover Scuba Diving programs for non-certified divers. It’s a half-day program starting with a theory and pool session followed up by a dive in the ocean to a maximum depth of 12 meters. The whole program will be conducted by one of their experienced scuba dive instructors.

PADI Scuba Diver Certification

  • A Scuba Diver certification doesn’t required swimming skills. The students only have to master a 10 minutes survival swim/float without swim aids. The Scuba Diver Course is a real certification, and for lifetime.
  • Oceans 5 Gili Air offers Scuba Diving courses. It’s a 2 days course. When certified the students can dive till maximum 12 meters with a PADI professional as buddy.

PADI Open Water Diver Course

  • The PADI Open Water Diver Course is the most popular diving certification in the world. A highly trained PADI Instructor will teach you how to scuba dive in a relaxed, supportive learning environment. The course requires swimming skills. First the student has to swim/float for 10-minutes without swimming aids and second the student has the swim a 200 meter continuous surface swim or 300 meters mask, fin, snorkel swim.
  • PADI Open Water Diver Courses are starting every day at Oceans 5. It is a 3 till 4 days course. After the course the students are allowed to dive to 18 meter deep with a buddy.


The answer to question, ““Do you have to be a strong swimmer to start scuba diving?” is NO. Being a strong swimmer is not a requirement of one of the entry level scuba diving programs/courses.

The PADI Discover Scuba Diving program and the PADI Scuba Diver Course the students do not even to have swimming skills.

The PADI Open Water Diver certification has swimming skills requirements, but doesn’t mention that the students have to be strong swimmers.

Oceans 5 recommends that everyone who likes to become a diver or participate in a Discover Scuba Diving program has diving skills. Part of the program or diving course takes place on a diving boat, and for safety reasons it is a great if all the persons on the boat can swim. 

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