by Bob Meadows:
Back when diving was perceived as dangerous and intimidating, a small group of divemasters (DM) and instructors asked me to go diving in some springs and caverns in what was considered my back yard at the time. That place was Ginnie Springs in High Springs, Florida. This weekend adventure is still fixed in my mind, like that first car you owned! These early “tech” divers invited me into their world, when I was only just a kid with some good buoyancy skills.
They were fantastic mentors, providing me advice and training on how to use a reel, lights, communicate through light signals, air sharing, the importance of buoyancy in a cave (to not disrupt the bottom), and how to calculate air consumption. Three days came and went, leaving me hooked and excited to dive in places where few could, or even wanted to. All because a few of the DMs and instructors I was with at that time thought I had good buoyancy skills.
Those early mentors of mine contributed to the great passion in my love of diving; not just to dive pretty reefs, but they encouraged me to ask questions such as, where did that ship sink and why? Where does all the beautiful spring water come from? They enabled me to have a lifelong passion for diving and it all started at a far away time in Florida, and has literally taken me around the world since.
Diving has it cast of characters for sure. The better divers and mentors are not judgmental or arrogant in any way. They are genuine, they inspire, and they instill a sense of passion for learning, even when one does not know it. Yours truly, might not have become a technical diver without the early invite from mentors guiding me through their non-intimidating instruction.
Most divers today have the ability to efficiently technical dive once they receive the training and have the requisite experience under their belts. There are plenty of instructors and divers from all backgrounds to teach and mentor technical divers, while the truly good ones do not beat their chest over their accomplishments to the world. These divers instill and inspire the next generation of divers to be the best diver they can be; whether it’s on is a 10 metre/30 foot reef dive or a wreck in 60 metres/200 feet.
As a community of divers we should always be learning and evolving. We should represent our community, whether sport or technical endeavors, with the same understanding and empathy needed for one learning how to dive. There are plenty of instructors with varying degrees of experience that do a great job of that – taking a student and instilling confidence and passion for diving in their life.
On the other hand, the elitist attitudes of some have pushed away potentially great divers over the years. On several occasions I have witnessed divers stating they cannot start a technical dive course because their instructor requires 500+ dives, perfect buoyancy skills, and jet fins for training. These are great opportunities for mentors out there to guide divers in the right direction, foster the basics, and allow the diver to learn, grow, and gain more experience along the way – not just the right amount of dives or fins. Arrogance is the last thing our dive community needs, everyone should be working together towards promoting our sport and all that it encompasses whether it is shallow dives, long cave dives, deep dives on a wreck, or an exploration on a virgin reef.
Sport and technical diving have differences, such as going deeper and staying longer. Most people who are curious or want to technical dive shouldn’t be discouraged by bad attitudes. There are a lot of dive facilities and instructors that will help turn their desires into realities. Technical diving isn’t for everyone, but everyone should have an equal chance at exploring options and not be discouraged by chest beating scuba super heroes. Every mentor in the dive community should inspire confidence, passion, and a willingness to learn and do better in every diver they encounter. Technical diving takes commitment, training and an open mind to new ideas that emerge.
The moral of the story is, there are a** holes everywhere, but there are also plenty of empathetic, caring, encouraging divers out there to help the new aspiring divers along the way. Whatever level we’re at in diving, we should always be mindful of our attitudes and encourage a mentoring type relationship to bring up divers to come.
– Bob Meadows
Owner – World of Scuba, Boca Raton, Florida