Thursday, June 18, 2015

SCUBA "Cross-Over" or "Make-Over"

We've all heard about all the "makeovers" in the marketplace, but it is very likely that you haven't heard about a SCUBA makeover. This subject was brought to my attention from a diver back East that is going to this event: Extreme Scuba Makeover. I think the idea is sound and in some instances a good idea...

I've had a similar concept in the works for a couple years, but no one has taken me up on the program yet: Specialty & Levels

NEW... Open Water Cross-Over:
Already certified, but feel that something was missing, didn't learn enough, or you feel that your skills need improvement? Do you think you needed more class or pool time and now want a little more than just a refresher course? I'll take you through snorkeling and skin diving exercises, swimming styles, and self-rescue techniques. Additionally, we'll practice dive buddy rescues skills, emergency swimming ascents, buddy breathing, and air sharing. Don't remember how to do dive tables or weren't taught them? Let me teach you! How about pre-dive planning, buddy checks, ascent techniques, buddy communication, or post-dive debriefing? Don't know what your SAC rate is, know how to calculate it, or what to do with it? Do you remember what an emergency buoyant ascent is? If you answered "no" to any of these, then the "Open Water Diver Cross-Over" is for you! 

The question really is, "who would take the Scuba Cross-over? There are few points of view to consider, if not more... The student didn't think they learned enough, the student actually didn't learn enough, the student's program was lacking, and perhaps even that they didn't even finish their program. At first, one might think of a "refresher" but is there a difference?

Different agencies focus on different skills needed to accomplish prior to completion of a scuba diving program. Additional skills might not be what is actually needed as much as the student has fears, roadblocks, or anxieties to overcome. I feel that one of the most important aspects of scuba diving is confidence. Practice builds confidence, practice builds competence and fluidity. It is very realistic that skills will degrade if not practiced. One of my favorite articles is, "Addressing the Issue of Diver Competence," written by Alex Brylske.
No Dumb Questions
Addressing the Issue of Diver Competence
Written by
Alex Brylske

"Divers are initially qualified through a certification process, but they remain qualified only through continued experience. In no field can certification alone guarantee competence. The overwhelming majority of the horror stories that you and I have both witnessed come from these "occasional divers." With lengthy downtime between dives, skills will decay. This is why divers should understand the implication of curtailing their diving for long periods, and be willing to admit and accept the need for some remedial measures."

One of the reasons this is at the forefront of my thoughts lately is that a diver (in one of the areas I frequent) recently died on her first open water dive after certification. The autopsy revealed that she drowned, but as usual in cases like this, the circumstances of incident might really never been know. Sadly, the thing that stood out was that eight additional divers went in the water together. Buddy teams are of major controversy as some feel that divers should only have one other on their "team." Similarly, many feel that emergency skills should have more emphasis during training. In all actuality, it is realistic to think that after initial training, all but instructors will not practice or recite in thought: controlled emergency swimming ascents, air sharing ascents, emergency buoyant ascents, buddy breathing, mask clearing, and regulator recovery skills. As of April 14, 2015 I have logged 1,425 dives and have been diving since 2006. In this time (outside of advanced specialty training and those exercises) I have never lost my mask, I have never lost my regulator, I have never had to ditch my weights, I have never ran out of air underwater, and I have never had to do a rapid, uncontrolled ascent to reach the surface. I didn't enter the professional side of diving until 2008 and had logged several hundred dives by then.

So, what does the student, or potential student do before, during, or after their certification? I think the thing that stands out to me the most is, MEET YOU SCUBA DIVING INSTRUCTOR...!!! Not on the first day of class, but before you sign up. It doesn't have to be face-to-face, but at least talk to them. I know that this is problematic for dive shops (except for the small mom and pop shops) that contract their instructors or are not employed at the shop full-time, but I think that the person who is going to teach you life saving skills and techniques should be someone you like, someone you feel comfortable with, and someone that will insist you earn that certification outside of pressures to buy equipment, keep up with others, and will insist that you take more classes if your skills are lacking.
JCA Elite Scuba
Learn to Scuba Dive

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