You must want to learn more, and take the time to become more proficient in order to remain safe, but you must always make the step into the technical world for the right reasons.
SDI Diver News
So…you’re ready to buy your first scuba tank. That’s great.
But, before you do, there are some questions you’ll want to answer to make sure you are spending your hard-earned money as wisely as possible. These include:
What should you do if you’re separated from your diving buddies or boat? Everyone knows what the book instructs us to do. Look around for a minute and then meet at the surface right? Well what if that were not an option?
Some of the differences between technical and sport, if applied by sport divers, would actually make sport divers better divers.
Diving at night is diving in another world and it should not be taken lightly… even if you have dove the same site, time after time during the day, doing so at night will bring you to a new world, with new shadows and new life.
by Shawn Harrsion:
I had the honor of being part of an incredible event that took place in Chicagoland on July 11th with the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago, and Wounded Heroes Foundation. As a 12 year veteran myself this was truly emotional as I walked around observing the 50 plus veterans participating in activities at various stations; from tennis and strength challenge to javelin throwing; but watching some of these vets experience the thrill of going underwater again, or for the first time, was awesome. Interacting with them I found out they were from all over the country; Georgia, Alabama and as far away as Hawaii, and I was amazed how far these veterans traveled to have the opportunity to come together and help each other
The session was designed as a Scuba Discovery pool experience; groups were broken into six person, rotating teams. They had underwater hockey, underwater swimming obstacles and even a bubble shooting range course set up which was really cool. For a lot of veterans the underwater world is such a relaxing place to be and this really showed with some staying down as long as one hour and asking for more. With the help of the Wounded Heroes Foundation this camp really allows veterans the opportunity to challenge themselves and some even go on to actual competitions. This event in fact has had such an impact allowing vets to connect with other disabled vets that it has filled the camp to capacity for eight years.
What is really exciting is that some of the vets will go on to get scuba certified and even some family members will as well because this is another activity they can do together. I even had some of the vets say to me, “I got certified 3or 6 years ago, I forgot how much fun it really is and I would like to get back into it”. It is comments like this that were the highlight of the event for me.
It was an awesome sight seeing over forty Scuba Diving International (SDI) members, ranging from diver up to Instructor levels, who volunteered their time to help out. Not only did we have multiple family members, fathers and sons, but one pair were both veterans from the same branch with the son ending his tour 3 weeks ago and the dad retiring. This was made possible by the team from DJ’s Scuba Locker who supplied all the necessary equipment for the event. I also would like to thank the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago, Wounded Heroes Foundation and all the volunteer staff who took their time making this wonderful event possible. As well as Fourth Element for donating custom back zip Thermoclines which made donning a lot easier for the vets.
I asked Dan and Cindy Howard, owners of DJ’s Scuba Locker, what inspires them on events like this, they replied, “We wanted to give back to the community of people who have given so much” and “Making a difference, one vet at a time”.
by Dr. Thomas Powell:
Scuba diving is a sport in which there are very few strangers. Most divers can remember the fun evenings at the bar or restaurant after long days of diving. Everyone in those memories is smiling, buying rounds, and telling tall tales. Simultaneously, that lone diver seeking a buddy while on vacation rarely has trouble finding someone willing to tag along. The reality is that scuba divers are often a merry bunch of people helping each other out and making sure everyone has a good time.
Aside from the shared adventures, storytelling, and buddy support that divers provide, the dive community as a whole is full of people who work hard to help others. The first example of genuine care can be seen in the disability programs developed and put forth by various training agencies. Scuba Diving International (SDI) maintains the Scubility program that allows individuals with differing disabilities to learn to scuba dive. Even those with quadriplegia, paraplegia, or no eye sight can learn to dive with buddy assistance. As this program grows and more instructors develop education in this realm, more and more individuals will get to experience time underwater. These potential students are individuals who otherwise may never get such an opportunity. The Scubility program is one that opens doorways for people and gives them a shot at a sport that they may have believed was lost forever. SDI is hosting a Scubility Diver and Instructor Program this November just before DEMA!
Find out how you can get involved with Scubility »
The veteran community is another realm in which many individuals face issues or concerns that traditionally may preclude potential students form learning to dive. All around the United States, dive professionals and dive facilities have opened their doorways to veterans and veteran-based programs in an effort to share scuba diving. Essentially, assistance-based programs have been developed and refined to ensure veterans with disabilities get the chance to seek proper medical approval and potentially discover the opportunity to dive. In many cases, these programs are difficult to set up and require dive professionals to spend extra time and effort to ensure that disabled veterans are provided with a quality education option with the support of the Department of Veterans’ Affairs. These acts of support are what grow the scuba community and show divers that there are people out there who will help you find a way to learn if the opportunity can be discovered in a safe manner.
Even within the public safety community, efforts are made to help others. Many public safety dive teams provide community education days where children are invited to see and touch dive gear in an effort to help them understand how public safety personnel, especially divers, can help the community. The truth of the matter is that public safety divers are always working to help others. These divers volunteer to dive in terrible conditions to help perform rescues, solve crimes, or even protect the environment.
The reality behind divers helping others is that it starts at the local diving level. In recent months, I had the opportunity to see two local dive master candidates partake in a shop-based scavenger hunt. The two divers worked hard to recover plastic coins that could be traded for merchandise during a raffle. When the time came to cash in, the two divers selected items that they could give to a local young lady who suffered from various disabilities. Once others realized what they were doing, an instructor candidate at the dive site walked to his truck and retrieved a megalodon tooth to give to the young lady. Similarly, the dive shop employee running the raffle took all of the merchandise not selected in the raffle and handed it over as a donation. In an afternoon, four divers who could have had fun and earned some “swag,” chose to give instead. This attitude is what is great within the diving community.
In a similar instance in recent months, I watched a dive shop owner provide a FREE wetsuit to a young lady in need, and a renowned professional photographer provided time and photos for a family he did not know in his free time. The scuba community is one where there are no real strangers. Divers at all levels love to share knowledge and experience. Similarly, the community often bands together to support causes, friends, and those in need. The objective should be to expand this mindset and work to make the dive community even more open, friendly, and accepting. As you travel, explore, and continue your dive adventures, ask yourself how you can help others, and make diving that much better for those who love, or may one day love, the sport.
– Dr. Thomas Powell
Owner/Instructor Trainer – Air Hogs Scuba, Garner, NC
by Rob Bradish:
It is a discussion heard all of the time. The sport diver saying he doesn’t want his diving that rigid. They just want to stick the thingy in their mouth and go see the fish. Meanwhile, as technical divers, we are so consumed with doing things in a particular way, that we sometimes forget that, adaptability is also a skill. No wonder the two camps sometimes have difficulty finding common ground! That said, people often overlook a fundamental truth. There is no such thing as Technical Diving! It is all recreational and both forms have common roots. Lessons were learned, and passed down through the learning process that were provided, typically via another diver’s mishap, and possibly at the expense of their life.
Knowing that, let’s look at some of those lessons, often spelled out in technical training manuals, and see how they might apply to the sport diver.
- Lesson One – Every dive is a decompression dive.
The lesson is actually in every Open Water Diver class, but sometimes only gets a cursory look. While there may seem to be differences between Non Stop Diving limits and Decompression Dive Plans, they are really the same thing. In both cases, whether by computer, table or some other method, the diver is examining time at depth, and then building an exit strategy that allows the gases dissolved in our body’s various tissues, to escape before becoming large enough to be a problem.Failure to recognize that, and plan and act accordingly, is just waiting for an incident to occur.
- Lesson Two- Any Diver, Any Reason, No Questions Asked
As a part of a technical team, it is our job to show up prepared and ready to function at 100%. That said, sometimes a diver may be 20 minutes into a dive before they realize they are not hitting that goal. It is the job of the diver to know when to make that call. It is so important to the team, that the mantra has been adopted in an effort to make that decision even easier, eliminating embarrassment or ridicule as a concern.A favorite buddy, a sport diver to his core, used to word it a little differently, but the message is the same. “As much as I enjoy diving, there is not any single dive worth all the joys in my life going forward”.
- Lesson Three- Stop Learning, Stop Diving
Recently, another diver stated they had perfected a style of diving that worked for them and that they saw no need to alter it going forward. As a technical diver, we are often told that a critical part of the post dive meal was to discuss, at least a few, points of possible improvement. This is in recognition that, during every dive, there is room for improvement and growth. We don’t stop training. Whether through self-study, mentorship, or quality class material, there is a recognition that things change, and when change occurs, so to must learning.In all things, there must be a realization that failure to continue learning in any dynamic activity could contribute to failure at a later time.
- Lesson Four- The Trip is often more important than the Destination.
Technical Diving is full of stories about people that achieve some feat. It is also full of stories about people who fail while trying to achieve some feat. Those who achieve a tough goal rarely do so without a lot of forethought and planning. It is also a part of the training described in Lesson Three, as well as combined experience and lots of practice. When failures do occur, there is often an after action discovery. Frequently, reasons cited include exceeding ones skill set and abilities.Preparation is rarely rushed, and doing so often leads to skipped steps. Taking time in that preparation is a valuable use of time. In most cases, that destination will be there tomorrow!
- Lesson Five- You carry a Submersible Pressure Gauge for a Reason.
In Technical Diving, running out of gas can, and likely would, be a life threatening event. It is simply not acceptable. We plan for it, and we plan for contingencies, to insure we do not run out of gas. Yet somehow, there always seems to be some person, returning from a sport dive trip, and boasting about how they used every bit of gas in their tank, like they should be applauded for their skill!!Sorry folks, running out of gas, or even getting close, except in cases of mechanical failure, is unacceptable, period.
- Lesson Six- When spending peanuts, expect monkeys.
Diving at a technical level can be more expensive than recreationally. Redundant systems and extended training cost more as a function of keeping the diver safe!! Even so, the technical diver will likely spend more on any one individual device than the sport diver. Technical divers are frequently reminded that their gear is not scuba equipment, but life support equipment. Quality has an associated cost. Remember the old adage, “If it looks too good to be true, it probably is”? This applies to repairs, training, and product purchases, and often, we know it when we see it.If a product or service is undervalued, it will very likely be under delivered as well. While quality may cost, shortcuts in training or services always cost more.
- Lesson Seven- There are NO shortcuts!
If an Indy Car racer wants to win the Indianapolis 500, he will drive thousands of miles in practice to get to the winners circle. Diving should not be any different. Many planning a technical dive will do “mockup” dives ahead of the actual dive, planning and re-planning for contingencies and spending hundreds of hours just in preparation. A sport diver can often recognize the “old Salt” at the back of the boat. They breathe gas more efficiently, they move more gracefully through the water and the always seem to have a great time. When you look at their log book, frequently they have logged many dives and hours underwater, typically far beyond the norm.Fact is, experience does matter. Can’t get to the boat this weekend because of rough sea? Head to your lake or quarry. While it may not be what you were looking for, rarely does a person not see benefit from a little practice.
There are many lessons to be learned but these seven can help provide a solid core. Technical diving may not be on a diver’s goal list, but its lessons have been hard fought and should not be treated lightly. To do so would be to forget another lesson found in the quote of George Santayana. “Those who fail to learn from history are condemned to repeat it”. With so many Scuba Diving lessons learned through the mishaps of another diver, it would seem foolish for a person to want to repeat that lesson. Most importantly, we have these lessons and know they work. The only risk in applying them, therefore, is to have more enjoyment, both for today’s dive and those in the future!!
– Rob Bradish, who refers to himself as “a sport diver with Technical Interests”, has been certified since 1981, and crossed over to “the Dark Side” as an instructor with SDI/TDI. He is the owner of Sub-Aquatix, in Clayton, North Carolina.
by Harry Averill:
We expect a lot of professional diving educators. Right out of the box, we want instructors to:
- Understand and follow training standards religiously.
- Serve as a role model for everything from equipment selection and use to adhering to safe diving practices.
- Support their dive center, training agency and fellow diving educators.
This is the minimum we expect from any dive professional. So what qualities set the most successful diving educators apart from others? Here are four key ones:
- Focus — The most successful diving educators are able to give their students their complete and undivided attention. No matter what else is going on in their lives, the best instructors make students feel as though they are the center of the instructor’s universe.
- Commitment — The most effective diving educators are driven. Being the best instructor they possibly can is essential to these individuals’ sense of self worth. It is the instructors who demand the most from themselves who always seem to get the most from their students.
- Patience — The potential frustrations diving educators face can range can from problems with equipment, pools and boats to students who seem to take an impossibly long time to master even the most basic concepts and skills. Yet, despite this, the best instructors never lose their patience. They make students feel as though, no matter what, their instructor is not going to give up on them.
- Empathy — The most successful diving educators can relate to what their students are feeling and experiencing. They listen as much as they talk. They can see things from a student’s perspective and, as a consequence, make the task of learning easier.
If you think you might have what it takes to be a truly successful diving educator, contact your local SDI Dive Center. They can help you take the next step towards leadership.
by Dr. Thomas Powell:
Earlier this year readers of the monthly Scuba Diving International publications had the opportunity to read about a young lady named Kennedy. For those who do not already know, Kennedy was the 2014 Children’s Miracle Network Champion for North Carolina. One of her dreams was to have the opportunity to spend some time under the water and enjoy the subsurface world. A local diver to her area named Tim Kintner contacted his local dive shop and asked if any help could be provided to young Kennedy. He made the connection that sparked a whirlwind of fun. For a few months, dive professionals came together to work with Kennedy, volunteering time and effort to make sure she received a quality education. Ray Wickham, Robert Bradish, and Josh Norris were a few of these professionals. Eventually, Kennedy was able to become certified as an SDI Open Water Scuba Diver. Her Journey did not end with earning her certification.
Shortly after becoming certified, staff members from Dive Rite had the opportunity to meet Kennedy during a shop event outside of Raleigh, N.C. During the first weekend of June those staff members and the crew at Dive Rite invited Kennedy to High Springs, Florida to dive. She was welcomed with open arms and got the chance to dive in some of the clearest waters on Earth. According to her mother, Kennedy was “excited and nervous, but she loved it.” She spent the weekend diving Ginnie Springs and Manatee Springs just having an all-around good time. In fact, Kennedy’s very first dive away from her local quarry was with Lamar Hires himself just inside the entrance to the Ginnie ball room. Throughout the weekend, John McCain and Bre Grant spent time going back over dive education and making sure that Kennedy had the opportunity to experience everything she could while in “cave country.” Simultaneously, Peter Lapin spent the weekend shooting beautiful images for Kennedy and her family to remember forever. Cave Country Dive Shop even donated gas to keep Kennedy in the water. All-in-all it was an amazing first experience away from home.
A short two weeks later, Kennedy was once again invited to Florida. This time she was invited by Sean Harrison and the staff at International Training to experience her very first salt water dives. That Friday, Kennedy and her family toured International Training headquarters and met every staff member in the building. The following morning, the entire International Training crew and all of their families met Kennedy at the Blue Herron Bridge to hit the water. During her first ocean dive, Kennedy was able to see at least ten different octopuses, a sea horse, a bat fish, and a flying gurnard. Again, Peter Lapin was following along recording everything for future memories. Following the dive, Peter Friedman of Stuart Scuba provided one of his facilities for everyone to eat a lunch rounded up by Jon and Lauren Kieren. Finally, on Sunday, Jon and Lauren Kieren took Kennedy out on a private boat provided by Peter Friedman to experience her first wreck dive just off of Stuart, Florida. Goliath groupers showed Kennedy just how big marine life can really get.
This entire experience to date shows the heart of the dive community. Time and again, individuals and groups took personal time to spend with a young lady who has a passion for scuba. Similarly, equipment, and resources were provided at the drop of a hat. Divers, dive professionals, and friends came together to make each experience as wonderful as possible. A young lady has now truly become a part of our diving community and has been welcomed at all levels by those she can now call friends.
– Dr. Thomas Powell
Owner/Instructor Trainer – Air Hogs Scuba, Garner, NC