Wonderful guys! Yes, buoyancy is TOTALLY doable at open waterl as is drysuit. The funniest part of that is that PADI teaches this thing called “fin pivots.” That exercise is not suppose to stop after they bob up and down for a couple minute… from that point, lift your legs bend your knees and start moving forward! Keep breathing, too. The scariest thing I’ve ever seen are divers standing up while they do their skills. Yes! They are REALLY standing up.
After buoyancy skills come finning techniques. I only propel myself with the modified frog kick, but will settle for frog kick from my students. I’ll give them a little wiggle room and a little flutter kick here and there in mid-water, but the flutter kick is notorious for destroying the environment. Partnered with finning techniques comes those buoyancy skills. Less kicking, more buoyancy, and everything falls into place — better air consumption, better situational awareness, and longer bottom times.
There is an instructor in the country somewhere that teaches frog kick from snorkeling and nobody gets into scuba gear until they are using it.
NO, NO, NO…!!! If the student says they are uncomfortable, they are not ready to be certified! The diver MUST be confident because once I sign off on their training, they must be autonomous. That only means one thing. If they are not going to pay me to join them on their dive trips to all the exotic locales, they are 100% ready to dive without me. Students can’t be freaked out by doing an 85-95ft dive in the Puget Sound in the exact same conditions from which they were trained just because the next set of dives are going to be in warm clear water. SDI, SSI, GUE, NAUI, and BSAC award open water divers 100ft access so if they can’t do a 100ft dive in the Puget Sound after certification, they need more dives. Any instructor awarding cert cards to divers that are freaked out will eventually have their butts served to them in court.
Regrettably, PADI fails to inform their students that they only get 60ft, and in conditions from which they learned. If they learned in the Puget Sound, 60ft in Mexico and Hawaii is appropriate. If they learned in Fiji or Tahiti, then they should take PNW dives very cautiously. Also, divers with PADI Advanced Certifications can only cautiously approach 100ft without an actual “Deep Diver” certification. Dive operators sometimes fail to hold these new divers to those standards because their c-card says “advanced.”
I’ll address the e-learning lastly, but my perspective is contrary to the way I know it is often used. I don’t mind students using it, but every student gets a full educational review with me so that I know what they absorbed. I can tell within the first few questions I asked of them if they blew through it. My educational review is designed to take what they learned on their own and give them the tools to take what I give them to the open water — life lessons from an experienced diver and instructor. I approach most of the questions open-ended. In fact, my final exam is fill-in-the-blank. I won’t dive with another that got 10-20% of their final exam wrong. Academics are completed before pool; pool prior to open water; and only then open water.
In the end, my standards are high because it’s easy to kill oneself diving and I won’t be responsible for that! I encourage other instructors out there to set their standards above and beyond what’s in your standards and procedures manuals. Your students deserve it, the industry need it, and good training should never be the exception.
“Every dive is a dream come true…”