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August 04, 2006

The other side of the coin

Since Conrad is writing about his Beginning Scuba class, perhaps I should write about mine. Not MY class, but the ones I am currently instructing. After years of Instructing, it's always nice to find out the views of a student. Thanks, Conrad!

About my helpers...

I have several Dive Master candidates in various stages of training. Dewey, Charley, and Chris have been working diligently to get their training completed. Chad started with them, but had to take a break when he bought a new business that ended up taking ALL of his available time! Doug and Dan have been in training off and on for quite a while, but both have had to postpone training because of either career changes and relocating. I wish them all the best, but I miss them! Ted is a loyal and constant companion during checkout dives, but it's like pulling teeth to get him to come to classes and pool sessions. I suppose that what happens when you stay active as a card carrying Dive Master for 10+ years! If I really needed him to help out in the pool I have no doubt he'd be there! Rhonda, Donna, Alicia, and Jeff are all promising Dive Master candidates who have all just begun their training.

About my classes in general...

The schedule for my NAUI Beginning Scuba Diver course consists of four classroom sessions and four pool sessions, followed by a scheduled night for the written exam, then two days for the five required evaluation dives. I generally teach on Tuesday and Wednesday evenings with classes beginning at 7:00PM and ending roughly at 10:00PM. Pool sessions often run over, as I feel pool time is extremely important.

About this class...

My current class consists of eight students: Mary, Jerry, Charlie, John, Mark, Quinten, Arlene, and Harry. The first five of them were present for the first lecture. Harry is joining this class after completing several of the classes with another group. Due to scheduling conflicts, he was unable to complete training earlier in the year. Quinten and Arlene joined class a little later. No worries, I will get them caught up before the scheduled evaluation dives later this month.

Okay, enough about them individually; I'll get on with thoughts about their training!

Week 1:
During the first lecture I did an orientation, then Charley described equipment and explained the use and functions of each piece of gear necessary for scuba diving, as well as useful accessories.

The following evening was their first pool session. The students completed the required distance swim, underwater swim, treading water, plus all the required skills necessary for snorkeling. Several of them had never used a mask and snorkel before, but everyone did a great job, seemed very comfortable in the water, and they were fired up about being on scuba the following week.

Week 2:
This week was the Diving Physics lecture. I use to dread this lecture, but I worked so hard to come up with easy ways to make it all make sense, so now it's my favorite lecture and it takes the least amount of time to teach! Charley taught this lecture and did a fabulous job! We were done almost an hour ahead of schedule!

Thursday night was their first night on scuba. Preparation for this class always takes longer than the other pool sessions because we assign rental equipment and go over assembly in great detail. Chris was responsible for the majority of this pool session and he did a fine job. Gear assembly went smoothly. No equipment malfunctions. Everything fit everyone first try, so we didn't waste any time. They were instructed on proper assembly methods, and well as given a few hints and tips to make these tasks simpler.

Once gear was assembled and all students were in the pool and instructed on proper donning techniques, they were ready for their first breaths of compressed air underwater! Call me silly, but I learned several years ago that students are more comfortable learning the functionality of gear one piece at a time. We asked them to put their regulators in their mouths and breathe in and out five times, then repeat the process with their faces in the water. They all got the hang of it immediately! We then added masks, and once they were comfortable with everything we told them to let all the air out of their BCs and go lay on the bottom of the pool. This is when I check to make sure everyone is wearing enough lead to sink. We start everyone out with four pounds, and then adjust as needed. We left them on the bottom of the shallow end to get comfortable for probably 1tenminutes, and they all did great!

Next came basic skills: Mask flood and clear, mask removal and replacement, regulator removal and replacement, then regulator recoveries. As expected, everyone got the hang of it immediately. The only thing I noticed was that they all seemed to be having trouble keeping their regulator mouthpieces in their mouths. They just couldn't stop smiling! Okay, a slight exaggeration, but they all seemed to be enjoying it! And that's a good thing. :-)

We discussed the importance of monitoring their instruments. While on the surface we allowed them to feel what it would be like to run out of air. While above water, they stood in a line facing the same direction and each turned off the air supply of the person standing in front of them, while breathing through their own regulator. None of them seemed to like that feeling, and I can only hope that by experiencing that on the surface, they will always be aware of how much air they actually have!

We discussed the possibility of equipment malfunctions. One step that seems to be left out of a lot of beginning courses is how to deal with a power inflator that is stuck and continuously inflating the diver's BC. It’s an easy fix, but most people think the only option is to keep dumping air. All this accomplishes is draining your scuba cylinder a lot faster! The best option is to disconnect the inflator hose, stopping the flow of air. If more air is then needed in the BC, you have two options. Orally inflate the BC or temporarily reconnect the low-pressure hose. This skill needs to be practiced while pressure is on the system, as it is much more difficult to operate when under pressure.

Once these skills were completed, they all seemed ready for buoyancy practice, so we got them started after reminding them how to properly equalize their ears and other air spaces. Once they all were neutral, we took them on several practice laps around the pool, each time getting progressively deeper. Once everyone was comfortable in deep water, we took them one at a time and repeated the skills learned in shallow water. Once we told them skills were all completed for the evening they all; wanted to practice a bit more, so we let them. Everyone got out and we instructed them on how to disassemble and care for their equipment.

Next Tuesday night is what I call the "Light and Fluffy" lecture... Diving Environment! Wednesday's pool session will be methods of sharing air and practicing rescue techniques, as well as a lot more buoyancy practice. Stay tuned for more! - Carol

Posted by carol at August 4, 2006 10:29 PM


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