“As the leaves here in the north start to turn, and the night air temperatures drop, it always seems to me that diving conditions improve… visibility goes up, the crowds thin out and travel is way more fun. I love diving this time of year!”
Brian Carney says that if he had to pick one thing that frustrates him about the dive industry it’s the attrition rates in new divers. “They work hard to become certified, make a huge effort to pass their exams and open water dives, and then lose the thread and drop out.”
The cure, he says, is to make the most of local dive sites and stay “on top of the game.” Two things that help on that score are finding buddies to enjoy your adventures with, and developing good diving habits.
To find diving buddies, Carney, who heads all three agencies in the International Training group, recommends joining local dive clubs and joining dives sponsored by SDI training facilities and dive stores. Having a group of friends to share your diving with will keep you interested and will help you to remember the skills you learned during your initial training he says.
Developing and honing good diving habits is equally simple: dive a lot and upgrade your knowledge and skills by working with your local SDI instructor on courses that interest you.
“We all strive to become better divers and as comfortable as possible in the water,” Carney says. “There is no secret that the only way to reach that particular goal is really very easy: dive as often and in as many different locations as possible, and keep learning.”
Carney jokes that his group of agencies has the learning element sewn up, but practice is something the individual has to make a serious effort with.
“Our instructors are often asked how they got to be so comfortable in the water or what the secret is to great trim and buoyancy,” he explains.”I was recently asked by a newly certified SDI Advanced Adventure Diver interested in underwater photography, how people like Annie Crawley, Tim Rock and Kat Smith saw things in the water that other divers miss. The answer to all those questions, about trim, buoyancy, observation skills and a whole mess more is the same: Learn from a good instructor what techniques work then dive your brains out. There is no substitute for diving experience and there is no shortcut for that.”
Carney went on to explain that people wrongly suggest sometimes that continuing diver education is some form of shortcut. “That’s not exactly true,” he says. “Continuing education does not replace the experience gained by going out and diving, just as diving does not replace continuing education. A well-rounded diver in fact will balance both. Without any doubt, spending time with an instructor and getting a little additional education and then doing some diving using what’s been learned during the course is the shortest way to becoming a successful and accomplished diver. But without constant practice, you’ll never really improve!”
So the message is, grab a friend and get out there and dive this fall…
“If you are looking for the perfect specialty that will add something to every dive no matter where it’s done,” advises Carney. “My suggestion is a nitrox class. Nitrox is the most universally beneficial program for any diver.”
Nitrox is, Carney says, a great tool that allows divers to enjoy more bottom time and shorter surface intervals. But one of the real benefits is not often discussed, he says.
“One of the things that both experienced and newly certified divers get from a nitrox course,” he concludes. “Is that it reinforces the need for and practice of dive planning! And dive planning gets you thinking more about diving, and hey, it’s like magic. That gets you diving more!”
Scuba Diving International offers nitrox in traditional format or as an online specialty
Technical Diving International offers a more intense nitrox course in traditional format for divers who may be interested in moving into more advanced dive planning, technical diving or diving rebreathers.