by Dr. Thomas W. Powell:
In the diving world, a unique few choose to push their personal limits. This may include diving deeper, penetrating wrecks, or even diving with advanced equipment. With that being said, one may view going deeper as setting a new depth record. While some divers want to set private or universal depth records, most divers choose to go deeper for the experience. They may be seeking to discover what exists at depth, or they may want to see a wreck that sits outside of recreational diving limits. The truth of the matter is, actual depth is often not the real objective. Instead, depth is a factor the diver must understand and recognize during planning. Divers who love this sport focus on the experience, not just a number.
Despite technical diving being a complex realm, any diver can enter into it. However, one must keep in mind, factors such as the equipment, training, planning, and even price tags are different. These changes are all part of the “deep experience.” To begin, one must look at the equipment. Deep or technical divers often need more gas, bottles with mixed gas, multiple regulators, items like manifolds and doubles bands, mixed gas computers, side-slung or side-mounted cylinders, and redundancies across the board. This need for gear leads each individual diver to search for what works best for them, in regards to the most desirable items and their configuration.
Second, a diver seeking to go deeper and have more technical experiences may(should) seek out advanced training. This training introduces mixed gases, extended range capabilities, equipment configurations, as well as oxygen-based physiology and how it relates to decompression. To accomplish this training, a diver will often research what facilities and instructors he or she can best learn from. (Find a TDI Facility/Instructor here) This again, is all part of the “deep-diving experience.” Dive professionals and dive shop owners must remember that the experience does not just take place underwater. If the dive professionals involved work to provide the best possible experience, the diver will remain happy, the business may recognize more profit, and that same diver may become a loyal customer.
Third, the planning changes for the deep/technical diver when compared to recreational diving. During training, technical divers learn that emergencies may involve hard or soft ceilings. For this reason, the diver must learn how to “bail out,” or safely return to the surface using gasses carried to depth. This need requires the diver and his partner or team to develop a bailout plan for specified depths throughout the dive. If an instructor teaches the diver to be competent and comfortable in this task, the diver is more likely to enjoy it, and look forward to planning deeper dives. Again, quality and competent training will build a better diver who seeks to actively use the knowledge he or she has gained
Fourth, the price tag associated with technical diving can grow in comparison to the prices seen in recreational diving. The experience provided by instructors, boat operators, shop owners, and even other divers will make the expenditures less painful. However, if the diver develops a passion for technical diving, then the cost is justified.
Finally, technical diving skills open up a whole new world for divers. The diver can go places and see things that other divers may not have the knowledge or capability to safely see. Hidden wrecks, deeper marine life, and unique underwater formations become available for technical divers. In certain cases and with proper training, technical divers may even be able to explore places that others have never ventured. “Deep” is a factor related to technical diving, but only part of the overall experience.
Technical divers maintain a certain pride factor within their personalities. They have taken a step that few others choose to take, and for this reason, they enjoy the adventure of deeper technical dives. They also enjoy using complex planning and specified gas mixes to get to these deeper depths. Rather than just enjoying the marine life, diving becomes a complex adventure that demands close attention to detail, extensive planning, and thorough training. If the journey is positive from start to finish, the diver will get the complete experience. This “experience” is what keeps divers wet and encourages them to move forward within the world of scuba.
– Dr. Thomas W. Powell, Owner/Instructor Trainer – Air Hogs Scuba, Garner, NC