Going down the path of our organization’s history we have heard numerous times, “Why are you doing it this way?” “Hey, we don’t do things like that, we do it like this.”
Nitrox was a course that originally required a two tank dive in order to receive certification. That was great if dive centers wanted to offer the two tank dive in conjunction with the certification and it was 80 degrees outside, but in all reality were those dives even necessary?
Diving is fun, which is why we do it. But we also believed in being effective and efficient in our educational programs and therefore came to the conclusion that a course that is purely academic, which does not have any practical purpose for any underwater skills, should not require two dives. If an instructor or a dive center would want to make the dives part of their curriculum, they had the option do to so, but we would give them that option rather than make it a mandatory standard.
Nitrox courses became a huge success for those places up north, just shy of polar vortexes and polar bears, where a student could take the course in a classroom or online and earn the certification after passing a knowledge review and properly analyzing a tank. Upon completion of the course the student would be well-versed in the fundamentals of theory behind the gas, the mixes, the partial pressure and the effects it had on the diver at depth. It was important to ensure that the nitrox divers understood the dangers of diving nitrox while also being able to reap the benefits associated with the enriched air. In order to do this, mask clearing, fin pivot and regulator retrieval were not necessary…therefore why make them dive? What information would the instructor evaluate by watching a diver dive nitrox? None. By eliminating the dives, we were allowing divers to take nitrox classes year-round and in rough weather conditions without the need to get wet.
This decision was simply one of those “It makes sense” moments that we’ve had throughout the years and recognized while developing the program… it was all academic!