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Diving and Children: Are they ready?

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In her first blog for Scubaverse, PADI MSDT and Dive School Operator Maryse Dare, shares some of her first-hand knowledge about teaching children to dive.

Incorporating a range of skills and experiences, Scuba Diving is an excellent activity for children. There are, however, different aspects to consider. In this blog we will be exploring some of the challenges to think through when a child starts on their diving journey.

The Assessment

Children develop at different rates. Although the youngest age for a Bubblemaker experience is 8, there are some children who may not be ready to start diving. At our dive school, we start children with a one to one session, and only book for one session, rather than encouraging parents to sign up for a full course. Children will be taken through a Bubblemaker and we can then start to assess how they respond to directions and how comfortable they are underwater. Only then can we start to make an honest evaluation of how long they will need to reach the Seal Team performance criteria.

What do you look for?

The children will range from being anxious to declaring they’re ready to dive the Titanic. Some will be happy to walk away from Mum and Dad, others may be a bit clingy. This is one sign to keep an eye on as there will have to be a separation when they are underwater. In one Bubblemaker a participant would not go underwater unless their Dad was with them. Although he still enjoyed the experience, we knew that he would need a lot more one to one time before he could dive and participate in the Seal Team programme independently.

Hints and Tips

Teaching children is a skill in itself and many Instructor courses will not prepare you for teaching with children specifically, but the skills are transferable. Think about the language that is used: short words, short sentences and key information only. I tend to talk a little bit and then give the bullet point information. For example, I’ll explain the BCD and finish with getting them to inflate as I say “in”, and deflate as I say “out”, using the hand signals at the same time. A nice gentle tone and lots of encouragement is always useful. Where children are excited, it keeps them calm; where children are a little nervous, then it can instill confidence.

Ratios are important. After assessing the children you will have an idea of how much support each diver will need. We have some children who have had to maintain a one to one for several months; we’ve had others who are ready to join the main group halfway through the first session.

Including the parents in their child’s progress is important. We have a range of children and it’s important that each diver is allowed to progress at their own rate. We focus on mastering the skills but as children’s attention span differs, we may progress to another skill once one has been completed a few times, but then return at later dates to ensure mastery. This has the added bonus of refreshing the skills for everyone.

Being honest at the start is also important. The parents who sign their child up for a Seal Team programme need to understand that (as with any course) you’re paying for tuition – not for a certification. We evolved the idea of a monthly club to get round this issue. Whilst parents are advised of average times to complete a course we also advise it can be longer, or indeed shorter. We have had children who have taken twelve sessions to complete the Seal Team before progressing to Master Seal Team; we have had others who have been able to complete their Aquamissions in three sessions and progress.

Integrating a bit of theory into each session is important too, although we’ll discuss this in a later blog. By learning slowly and gently, the children will acquire not only the knowledge required but also the understanding behind the theory. We cover only the basics in the first session but the debrief is just as important to reflect on what has been experienced in the sessions.

Introducing children to diving is a privilege and if done correctly, the children can continue their journey with you to develop their diving for many years ahead. Taking a bit of extra time at the start of their experience with diving, and ensuring it is tailored to the individual, will create great ambassadors for our community; naturally displaying good diving techniques and attitudes, as well as being  genuinely committed to protecting the environment in which we dive.


You can follow Maryse and her Dive Club / School at www.oceandiver.co.uk and www.facebook.com/OceanDiver.co.uk.

PADI MSDT Maryse runs Ocean Diver, a dive club and school on the borders of South London and Surrey. After many years of warm water diving, she is now a committed UK diver and particularly enjoys introducing people to the delights of the UK! Find out more at www.oceandiver.co.uk.

Blogs

Diving redefined at TDEX Bangkok 2024: NovoScuba and Siam Diving Enterprises join forces to bring diving education to the next level

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TDEX

NovoScuba, a ground-breaking diving agency based in the UK, is preparing for the global debut of its innovative subscription-based training platform that is set to redefine the way diving education is provided. The much-anticipated launch will take place at TDEX Bangkok 2024, marking a significant milestone in NovoScuba’s journey to reshape industry standards.

As part of an important initiative, NovoScuba is pleased to announce a partnership with Siam
Diving Enterprises (SDE) and their renowned Ocean Store. SDE, as one of Thailand’s leading
suppliers of diving, freediving and snorkelling equipment, brings a wealth of expertise and
resources to this collaboration, furthering NovoScuba’s mission to elevate the diving experience for enthusiasts worldwide.

tdex

NovoScuba aims to revolutionise the way dive shop owners, dive professionals and dive
enthusiasts engage with diving, making it more accessible and profitable for the entire diving
industry.

tdex“NovoScuba is not just another certification agency; it’s a transformative force built on
innovation and accessibility,” said Mark Spiers, founder and CEO of NovoScuba. “Our
partnership with Siam Diving Enterprises reflects our commitment to redefining diving education and empowering the diving industry at all levels.”

Siam Diving Enterprises, known for its extensive range of premium diving equipment from leading brands, will host NovoScuba at stand A74 during TDEX. This strategic collaboration offers divers a unique opportunity to experience first-hand NovoScuba’s groundbreaking approach to diving education.

NovoScuba’s platform offers state-of-the-art training programmes, including recreational and professional diving courses, designed to meet international standards and ISO certifications.
With a subscription-based model, digital learning materials available in 13 languages and
multi-platform accessibility, NovoScuba ensures that diving education is within reach for
everyone.

“We are inviting all dive enthusiasts, professionals and shop owners to join us on this
revolutionary journey,” added Mark Spiers. “Together we can redefine diving as we know it and
make a positive impact on the planet.”

tdex

Visit Siam Diving Enterprises and NovoScuba at stand A74 during TDEX Bangkok 2024 to
explore the future of diving education and discover the latest innovations in diving equipment.

About NovoScuba: NovoScuba is a pioneering dive training agency committed to making
diving inclusive, accessible, and enjoyable for everyone. With a focus on innovation and
positive impact, NovoScuba offers state-of-the-art training programs, digital learning
materials, and a subscription-based platform designed to redefine the diving industry
worldwide. To learn more about NovoScuba’s innovations, go to www.novoscuba.com.

About Siam Diving Enterprises (SDE): Siam Diving Enterprises (SDE) is one of the
largest suppliers of scuba diving, freediving, and snorkelling equipment in Thailand. With
warehouses in Bangkok and a team of industry experts, SDE offers a comprehensive range
of premium products and exceptional customer service to diving enthusiasts across the
country. To learn more about SDE go to Ocean Store Thailand website.

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Blogs

Wrecks’ Curse – The World of Wreck Diving

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wreck diving

By Pablo Mir

We all enjoy those unexpected encounters that come with wreck diving, no matter how small, during our open water scuba dives. Exploring those nearly vanished remains of a ship scattered across the ocean floor is frequently the climax of the otherwise regular dive.

What is Wreck Diving?

Wreck diving involves exploring underwater shipwrecks while scuba diving. Sometimes, the wreck we encounter is more than just the remnants of a small and forgotten old vessel. Or perhaps we didn’t deliberately choose it, but the charter we boarded had that destination planned that day. The Benwood, less than 14 meters or 45 feet deep, in the clear waters of the National Marine Sanctuary in Key Largo, Florida, or the Copenhagen of Fort Lauderdale, also Florida, are good examples. Divers, many beginners who haven’t even devoted half a second to thinking about wreck diving, enjoy exploring their remains and the fauna that inhabit them. In some way, and at different levels, we all seem to potentially be wreck divers, even without a higher and explicit intention.

First Encounters: The Unplanned Dive into Wreck Exploration

But the trek is long and has many branches. Wrecks present themselves in vast possibilities, from shallow and clear waters to deep and dark ones. The Ancient Mariner, Captain Dan, U352, Great Isaac, Grecian, Lady Luck, Hyde, Aeolus, Hydro Atlantic, RBJ & CC, Algol, U869, and the Andrea Doria -the Grand Dame of the Sea- are some of the names that resonate among thousands in the minds of many wreck divers on the East Coast of the USA. For many of us, getting ready to traverse that path of increasing challenges, increasingly demanding environments, and more astonishing, transcendent dives is a life goal in terms of recreation.

A Diverse World: The Spectrum of Wreck Diving Experiences

Now, it is well known that the label of wreck diving is not only applied to shipwrecks. It is common to extend it to any artificial structure or piece of it that can be explored during our dives. For example, Texas Tower #4, an Air Force radar station off the coast of New Jersey, toppled in 1961 by a storm, is frequently visited by numerous local technical divers and visitors who want to test their skills in those demanding waters. Similar structures of different natures and purposes exist in many other places, with the most different levels of certification and experience requirements we can imagine.

Is Wreck Diving Dangerous?

Wreck diving is not inherently dangerous, but proper training is required. Describing with words the feeling of wonder and the adventure involved in wreck diving is not easy. In the same way that regular open water diving is the entry point to another world, a unique, fascinating world, wreck diving is also an entry point to one of the additional levels of enjoyment and fascination the world of recreational diving poses. Wreck diving, we live the adventures others just dream or fear. We are there, explorers of a distant land. Often, we witness the remains of real human tragedies; other times, we are visitors to the most wonderful amusement park we can imagine.

Learning Curve: The Path from Novice to Experienced Wreck Diver

Sometimes, watching groups of recreational divers exploring a wreck might seem like witnessing a scene from a pirate movie. Two or three divers here, two or three more there, ascending and descending along its sides, from bow to stern, sticking their heads in to look inside compartments and passages. In some cases, entering and exiting the bridge or any space allows penetration in areas with abundant natural light and generous access points. Their expressions and body language make it easy to notice that they are having a great time. There is no doubt they are enjoying it, and it will be an experience they will vividly remember.

If they are a group traveling together, an instructor or divemaster may be there to ensure everything goes well. The passion for exploration, for discovery, and that thirst for adventures we all have within us can sometimes hinder us in making our best decisions. Therefore, to become actual wreck divers, we must not only desire to do so but also have the will to learn and gain experience, slowly and safely, in everything this specialty implies. While it is true that exploring the exterior of a wreck may seem like something that doesn’t require specific training, the reality is that it does. Fishing lines, sharp surfaces, parts that can easily come off, suddenly disappearing visibility, disorientation, etc., are dangers we must have learned about, developed strategies to avoid, and implemented procedures to solve with the proper tools.

And so it will be; many will traverse the paths of wreck diving by starting with proper training. Sometimes, the first step is part of the regular advanced diver certification many divers take; other times, it is going straight for a wreck diving specialty. They will learn and start practicing, gaining experience and ease in their procedures. They will fall more and more in love with those twisted iron environments and proudly display the rust stains on their diving suits as if they were scars from a well-fought battle.

Deepening the Dive: Advanced Wreck Exploration Techniques

But the journey continues. Sooner or later, some will want more than just hovering around the wrecks. Crossing well-lit passages with the exit in sight will no longer be enough for them. What they recently may have told themselves they wouldn’t do will begin to intrigue them, and they will want to continue training “just in case.” They will want to start moving away from those open corridors and see with their own eyes what lies beyond. They will no longer see wrecks as enemies to overwhelm in large groups but as a mystery to unravel slowly, passage by passage, room by room. They will split into small groups. They pursue a specific goal, have a specific plan, and seek to minimize unexpected situations, and this is more controllable and achievable when done by two or three rather than four or five.

They will keep learning, venture through narrow passages, dodge cables and pieces of metal hanging from what is now the ceiling, and proceed cautiously to avoid stirring up sediments. They will use different methods to establish positions at crossroads, place strobe lights, carry multiple penetration reels, and carry substantial knives, the kind they used to laugh at not long ago, thinking they were unnecessary exaggerations.

The Wreck Diver’s Journey: A Path of Endless Discovery

Over time, they will penetrate deeper and deeper into larger, darker, gloomier, more frightening wreck structures, simply because they can. They will descend to greater depths because that’s where they are in better condition and farther away from the boarding hordes.

They will transition from Air to Nitrox, later return to Air, and later delve into the world of Trimix. They will start planning and executing dives with decompression stops, as otherwise, their bottom times will be insufficient for their intentions. From one decompression gas cylinder, they will move to two, and in some cases, three or more. Those who can afford it will buy rebreathers; those who can’t will stick to open circuit, carrying multiple large cylinders.

The Eternal Call of the Deep

But genuine amazement will hit them hard on the day they, thinking carefully about all the steps they have taken and accounting for the time and effort dedicated, conclude without a shadow of a doubt that it was worth it. It will be too late for them; they will have fallen victim to this curse of shipwrecks that has trapped so many. There will be no escape for them; from now on, they will be wreck divers without cure or remedy. They will be condemned to spend the rest of their vacations and days off among twisted irons at the bottom of rivers, lakes, and oceans. Cheers buddies! And a warm welcome to all those newcomers to recreational diving who, unknowingly, may be destined to wander among old wood and rusted metal, seeking to put out that thirst for real-life adventures.

To find out more about International Training, visit www.tdisdi.com.

Main Image: William Drumm/International Training

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