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Why Continuing Your Dive Training Is Important

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I will admit to having writers block more often than my lucid moments.  I will usually be plodding along underwater blowing bubbles to myself and suddenly inspiration will come to me.  Before I know it the turtle I have just swam into will distract my attention interrupting the transition of that inspiration to my long term memory, and I am merely left with an ‘I’m sure there was something I needed to remember’ moment.  However sitting back and thinking about what I have got up to this last month, I realized that I have done quite a bit of teaching over many different levels of certification.

When I am teaching, I tend to refer to old stories and stories of friends when describing situations or ways you can do things, and it got me thinking about a few friends I have made during my dive travels.  A lot of the divers I have met are certified as Open Water divers.  This is the entry level SCUBA certification, and this is where most people will stop their dive training.  I know plenty of people with hundreds of dives, but they were only ever interested in being open water certified.

From this though I thought-bubbled on to a conversation I had with a PADI Course Director back in February.  He talked about how important continuing your dive education is.  Even at the professional level, he said that he felt people should continue to take part in specialty courses because it makes you more knowledgeable and well rounded as a diver.  After this conversation I went back and looked through my certification cards, and there are quite a few, but in this stack of plastic there are only 4 distinctive dive specialty cards.

Most divers are aware of the fact that there are many different dive training agencies; PADI, SSI, TDI, BSAC, CMAS and NAUI to name just a few, but all of these agencies follow the same standards set down by the powers of the Recreational SCUBA Training Council (RSTC).  This wasn’t always the case.

Rewind back some decades to the 1950’s when SCUBA diving was starting to become a sport people were interested in doing recreationally.  TV shows took images of the colour and beauty of the underwater realm straight into people’s living space.  SCUBA diving courses were taught over many weeks, with an almost military attitude and this was fine for people who had the time to spend learning in this style.  But a revolution happened when some agencies decided to break down these long intensive courses into smaller almost bite size pieces.  I don’t know if they were the first, but PADI were definitely one of the most successful agencies in marketing this teaching style.  And thus the Open Water, Advanced Open Water, and Rescue diver courses were born.

Returning to present day, it is almost accepted that dive courses are broken down in this way, to allow people to learn on holiday, fit it in around work, and progress at a pace they are comfortable with.  There are still some slight differences, some agencies will add a little bit more basic rescue earlier on, but for the most part, they are all very similar.

I am a PADI instructor.  I am PADI, not for any elitist attitude as some will say, but the dive shop I started my training through was PADI.  I don’t teach for any other agencies, it is just something that I have never needed to do, and because of that I am not going to pretend to know the inner workings of these other agencies, but it can be very upsetting when you sometimes hear other agency professionals, and professionals within PADI, talking in a negative way.  It’s not something I like, but almost every diver has heard the term ‘Put Another Dollar In’.  This comes back to PADI’s success at marketing these small courses, and other people not agreeing.  Seems to be working so far however.  But because of this negative talk circulating around student divers, you may find a lot not inclined to pay for another course.

PADI to date has certified over 20 million divers worldwide.  This seems like a huge number, but not all of these divers are active divers.  The average open water diver will stop diving before they reach 25 dives.  So while I had friends who have so many dives as open water divers, they are in the minority.

Ok so if you haven’t guessed what I am trying to write about is continuing education in diving.  If you imagine a target, a series of concentric circles expanding from a center point.   This is what many instructors may refer to as the ‘Target of Awareness’.

At the center point of the target you have divers who have just completed their Open Water course.  Their first experiences of breathing underwater, and all of the magic and nerves that these moments can create.  They are focused on themselves and becoming more comfortable in the water, learning to apply everything they have learnt in their course.  I won’t pretend that I was the most amazing diver straight out of my course.  I was just focused on me and making sure that my buddy wasn’t too far away.  It probably took me close to 15-20 dives to start to really enjoy being underwater and not be so focused on my diving skills.

Moving a step out from the center you have divers who have a little bit more experience and are more comfortable in the water.  Ready to develop new skills you have the Advanced Open Water course.  This is when instructors can start to task load students, giving them skills to complete underwater such as navigation, peak buoyancy, search and recovery of objects.  While you may find a lot of divers will transition from their open water straight into their advanced course, this is a step that they will gain most benefit from when they are no longer thinking so much about simply breathing and being underwater.  Not only does this course teach divers skills that, while not immediately necessary in a lot of situations, are extremely useful, but the Advanced Open Water course helps to improve confidence in the water through the use of these skills.  I’m sure a diver with more of an understanding of underwater navigation is going to be more comfortable grabbing a buddy and going to explore a shore diving site.

Take another step further away from the center and you reach the rescue diver course.  Divers and now comfortable in the water, and they have been task loaded.  This level now expands their awareness beyond themselves and to other divers.  Learning how to read situations to prevent dive emergencies from happening, or if they happen, how to control the situation and make a successful recovery.  When you break it down and look at the levels, this is the first point at which divers really stop and start to have this expanded view of the diving world.  I loved my rescue course.  It was in cold water, it was raining, the visibility was low and my victim was three times my size.  I would not take back a single moment of it!  It was hard and I was tired at the end, but I learnt so much from my instructor.  Now that I am teaching in warm waters, there are some things that are going to make doing rescue courses a little bit more comfortable, but I am still just as demanding on my students to get things perfect, while making sure they are that satisfied kind of tired at the end of the day.  Rescue is hard and fun, just as long as you are ready for it.

The final step, just under professional divers, on the ‘Target of Awareness’ is what PADI titles a Master SCUBA diver.  And in my long-winded kind of way, this is where I was trying to get to.  A Master SCUBA Diver is a rescue diver, with experience and comfort in the water, and a diver who has completed at least 5 different distinctive specialty courses.  PADI recognizes the experience and knowledge that these divers have with the Master SCUBA Diver rating.  They recognize the work that these divers have put into their diving careers, and acknowledge that they are able to step back and observe the big picture, enjoy being in the water, but be ready to respond to anything and everything.

As a professional I simply dismissed the idea of continuing to take courses that weren’t on a professional level, but what I realized through my conversation back in February, is how I am going to be able to teach a topic as a professional, if I have never done it as just a diver.  So I have my four distinctive specialty cards, now I just have to decide what to do for my 5th.  I encourage every diver, recreational and professional, if you haven’t already, join me in becoming a Master SCUBA Diver, and get to ‘Meet people, go places and do things!’.

Having always had a passion for the ocean it was only a matter of time before a Victoria Liles headed off to waters warmer than England had to offer. For the last 6 years she has been teaching her way around the world and has settled with her husband in Fiji, where they manage a beautiful dive operation. Www.divewananavufiji.com Www.facebook.com/divewananavu

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DIVE SHOW SPECIAL: Save up to 40% off your next liveaboard with Oyster Diving Holidays

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red sea liveaboard

Scuba Scene, the leading name in luxury liveaboard dive experiences, is excited to announce an incredible limited-time offer on its Red Sea itineraries. Dive enthusiasts can now embark on the ultimate underwater adventure aboard the Scuba Scene Liveaboard at discounts of up to 40%, making it an unbeatable opportunity to explore the wonders of the Red Sea.

red sea liveaboard

Itineraries for Every Diver:

Shark Weeks:

Immerse yourself in the thrilling world of sharks with specially curated itineraries focused on these majestic creatures. From the awe-inspiring hammerheads to the elusive oceanic whitetips, Shark Weeks with Scuba Scene promise an unforgettable experience for shark enthusiasts.

‘Brothers, Daedalus, and Elphinstone’:

Explore the iconic dive sites of the Red Sea, including the Brothers Islands, Daedalus Reef, and Elphinstone Reef. These itineraries offer a diverse range of marine life, vibrant coral reefs, and the chance to encounter pelagic wonders.

red sea liveaboard

Deep South:

For the more experienced divers seeking a deeper adventure, the Deep South itineraries take you to the lesser-explored regions of the Red Sea. Discover hidden gems, untouched coral formations, and marine life that thrives in the deeper depths.

Scuba Scene is offering up to 40% off on selected Red Sea Liveaboard itineraries, making this the perfect time to turn your diving dreams into reality.

Whether you’re a novice or an experienced diver, Scuba Scene ensures an inclusive and personalized experience for all levels of expertise.

red sea liveaboard

Why Choose Scuba Scene:

  • Luxury Accommodations: Experience unparalleled comfort in well-appointed cabins and communal areas.
  • Experienced Dive Crew: Dive with confidence alongside a team of expert dive masters and instructors.
  • Customizable Itineraries: Tailor your dive experience to match your preferences, ensuring a personalized adventure.

Now is the time to secure your spot on the Scuba Scene Liveaboard and explore the Red Sea like never before. These exclusive discounts are available for a limited time, promising an extraordinary underwater experience at an irresistible price.

Horizon 3 Liveaboard, the epitome of luxury and adventure in the Maldives, invites scuba enthusiasts and travellers alike to experience the enchanting underwater world with unprecedented savings. Embark on an unforgettable journey through the crystal-clear waters of the Maldives aboard Horizon 3, and make the most of exclusive discounts on select itineraries.

red sea liveaboard

Special Offer Itineraries

17th to 31st March 2024 – 14 Night Itinerary:

Original Price: £4,670

Now Only £3,500 (Save 25%)

31st March to 7th April 2024 – 7 Night Itinerary:

Original Price: £2,330

Now Only £1,750 (Save 25%)

14th to 21st April 2024 – 7 Night Itinerary:

Original Price: £2,330

Now Only £1,750 (Save 25%)

These exclusive discounts present an extraordinary opportunity for adventure-seekers to indulge in the luxury and thrill of a Horizon 3 Liveaboard experience at unbeatable prices. Horizon 3 is renowned for its world-class service, top-notch amenities, and expertly curated itineraries that showcase the mesmerizing beauty of the Maldives’ underwater paradise.

To book your adventure and take advantage of the up to 40% off offer, visit Oyster Diving Holidays  or contact their dedicated customer service team at 0800 699 0243.

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Get a FREE undersuit when you buy a trilaminate drysuit from Scubapro

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IT’S TRILAMINATE TIME!

SCUBAPRO is launching its 2024 drysuit promotion:

With the purchase of a trilaminate drysuit EVERTECH DRY BREATHABLE or DEFINITION DRY, SCUBAPRO gives you the matching K2 EXTREME undersuit (GBP 345) for free.

If that’s not a reason to start drysuit diving, because in our climate it’s drysuit season all year round! So don’t miss out – the promotion is valid until May 31, 2024 at participating SCUBAPRO retailers and in participating regions.

All information at https://scubapro.johnsonoutdoors.com/eu/en-gb/free-k2.

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Experience the Red Sea in May with Bella Eriny Liveaboard! As the weather warms up, there’s no better time to dive into the crystal clear waters of the Red Sea. Join us on Bella Eriny, your premier choice for Red Sea liveaboards, this May for an unforgettable underwater adventure. Explore vibrant marine life and stunning coral reefs Enjoy comfortable accommodation in our spacious cabins Savor delicious meals prepared by our onboard chef Benefit from the expertise of our professional dive guides Visit our website for more information and to secure your spot: www.scubatravel.com/BellaEriny or call 01483 411590 More Less

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