Sunday, July 27, 2014

Good Divers are Always Learning

Good divers are always learning.  This is what is printed on the front of every Dive Training magazine, and exactly what we did one our recent trip to Mermet Springs in southern Illinois.

Even if you are a very experienced diver, any change in equipment or environment presents a chance to expand your scuba knowledge and experience. Within the Mermet group, Jerry and Anthony had new BC’s, Sheryl was working on mastering her drysuit skills, and Tater was diving in a drysuit for the very first time.  In addition, Mermet Springs was new to all of us.

The first thing we did once we parked our trailer was get an orientation to the dive park with Mermet Springs’ owner, Glen Faith. This dive quarry is very well thought out. The covered pavilion that was reserved for us was equipped an overhead fan, electricity and two gear tables with bungies for securing our gear.  Each training platform is marked with a large white buoy, and each sunken attraction is marked with an orange buoy.  Each buoy has a notation on it indicating what is below it and at what depth.  In addition, under the water, all the attractions are connected with ropes that have tags indicating what the next thing is and how deep.  It is impossible to get lost! The main dock, which was just steps from our pavilion, was even handicapped accessible with a lift for getting in and out of the water. With that information, we felt ready to hit the water.

With all the new equipment, the first order of business was to do a weight check.  It is obvious that a new or different wetsuit or drysuit will require a weight check, but even a change in BC can effect the amount of weight required and its distribution.  After fine tuning our weights, we were ready to go.  We decided to spend a little time on a training platform to give everyone time to hover, check trim, and generally become familiar with the location of all their dumps, buttons and hoses.

After the underwater check, we took off for a tour.  Mermet is unique in many ways, but one really surprising thing is that they have music piped in underwater.  This makes it nice to swim around with something other than your breathing to listen to.  The underwater speakers also have a less frivolous purpose as well; they serve as a diver recall system when needed to reunite dive buddies. So, we swam along listening to classic rock, looking at all the fun stuff. Our divers with new equipment played with their buoyancy.

Tater commented that at times he felt like he did when he was a brand new diver. If you are used to being highly competent underwater, it is a bit humbling to suddenly return to that awkward “newbie” state.  However, there are definite rewards to be reaped by challenging oneself and learning something new. 

Yes, new divers long to get themselves to a state of true comfort and confidence underwater, but once that comfort level is achieved, if they really want to be good divers, they will find the next thing to challenge and educate them.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Hey Blogsters!

Hey Blogsters!

I was snooping around on Scuba Board, an online forum for divers, and stumbled upon a quote that really struck a chord with me. It stated, ”When training a new diver, success is not them earning open water certification, success is seeing them dive next year.” I wholeheartedly agree! If you have been reading the blog, or were trained by Mike and me, you know we are constantly pushing local diving, dive travel and divers gearing themselves so they can dive when they want. We are not doing this to make money, but rather to truly ignite in our divers a passion for this sport and to see that enthusiasm reflected in the faces of our former students. 

I have had my share of students who signed up for class just to dive on a trip, or to keep their buddy or girlfriend company, or for some other reason other than their own passion. My job then is not just to inform them about diving, but ignite in them a passion for the sport. In the classroom, I try my best to get them excited about diving and dive travel.  I impress on them the importance of staying in “scuba shape,” and diving frequently.  For their open water certification dives, I go a step further. Rather than take them to a murky water hole that is closer and more convenient for us, we make an event that includes our students as well as certified divers out for experience and fun. These spots may be a little farther away, but because they are more of an underwater park, with interesting stuff sunk in them, (not to mention water that is clear enough to make viewing these things possible) they make a more enjoyable experience for the newest  divers.  By certifying the divers at one of our “events” the newcomer also sees how experience can be gained by diving with a group of people who are helpful and work as a team. If we’ve done our job well, we will make divers for life.

We always are happy when newly certified divers decide to come along on either our local or tropical dive trips and we love sharing the experience with them. Even if they are not diving with us, I still like to hear that they are diving somewhere with someone.  Nothing makes me happier than to hear dive adventure stories from former students. In fact, I am constantly on the lookout for guest bloggers, or for fresh photos for the shop’s FB page, and will happily publish your story.  True adventure stories are the best to whet the diving appetite of other divers!

I just certified two new divers today, and in a week, they are off to Jamaica for diving.  I can’t wait to hear how their dives were and I sincerely hope to see them dive with us a few more times this summer.  That’s how I’ll know if I did a good job.

 (P.S. A big sarcastic “Thanks a bunch”, to Tater for getting me on Scuba Board.  Now I’m really behind!!)