Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Your "100th Dive" is not any more important than your 25th, 50th, 75th...

As with many things in life, humans place importance on dates and milestones. Birthdays, anniversaries, and historical dates have become tradition and most expect something special to happen on one of those days. If it's not a surprise birthday party, an anniversary date celebrating a moment in a rationship, or even a national, global, or religious holiday, humans love to acknowledge a day that often took years to arrive.

Scuba is no different. Learning to scuba dive comes easy for some, with trials for others, and for those that continue diving see milestones as way way to judge their progress and reward themselves for making it to the next year, next certification, or next dive number. For me, the milestone of dive number 100 met me with excitement but also fills me with grief. There really isn't a way to know how long it will take to get there as I got to 100 dives in 9 months. Most of my students do 4-6 dives during certification then often 6 dives on a vacation destination. That usually wraps up their year. I encourage my students to do at least 24 dives a year.  24 dives a year should be able to fit into anyone's schedule as it works out to only two dives on any one day in a given month. 24 dives a year is twice the minimum recommended from the "NAUI Safe Scuba Diving Practices" guide.

If everyone dove at this rate, it should take around 4 years to reach 100 dives, much longer if you don't. If you think about other things that take 4 years to complete, we could include: high school, a bachelor's degree, the arrival of the next Olympic games, the presidential election, and for those that have children, watch this video to see all the milestones this father sees in his son over four years (teething, walking, talking, potty training, and overall growth).

When you look at it this way, four years is a long time. The amount of things one can learn in that time is stupendous...!!! However, if you think about the time the diver comits to diving, it is realistic to assume they have 66 hours under there diving education belts the first year (8 hours of self-study, 6 hours of review with the instructor, 6 hours of pool, 16 hours of open water, and 30 hours on the next 20 dives - - allowing for setup, the dive, debriefing, breakdown, for each dive and that's being generous - - assuming that everyone will learn something on dive days during the half-hour not in the water. In-water dive time the first year, supposing that each dive was an hour in duration (which would be very unlikely) is 24 hours.

So in the first year, the new diver has the experience of 24 in-water hours and 66 total-hours of training, extrapolated to four years, that's 96 hours in-water and 174 total-hours of training (66 + [24×1.5] × 3).

At this point it starts to become confusing as to what was really learned in that time because it is more likely that anyone with less than 100 dives thinks they are just diving, just fine, and rarely evaluates their progress. Similarly, it is very likely that the only time that a diver practiced all of the skills introduced to them in the first year, was in the first year...

I've asked divers to reevaluate their skills at 100 dives, but haven't gotten any takers.

What does all this mean? It means that scuba diving as a recreational activity is not taken seriously.

I mentioned earlier that a 100th dive milestone met me with grief. I was present at a divers death on his 101st dive. The death was due to diver error. There was no failure of his equipment...

We don't celebrate dive number 25, but dives 25, 50, and 75 are equally as important. I encourage everyone to keep their skills sharp, practice what was learned in open water, continue your scuba diving education (during your first four years, if not longer), and if you ever feel that conditions are beyond your skill, comfort, or ability, end the dive.

If anyone is interested in an evaluation of your skills at dive 25, 50, or 75, it will be free to you.

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