To those considering an OW class...

Discussion in 'New Divers and Those Considering Diving' started by loosebits, Aug 2, 2006.

  1. loosebits

    loosebits Manta Ray

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: DFW, TX
    1,163
    1
    0
    This was developed as part of an argument I had with a dive master.

    There has been a trend in open water diving classes (and diving education in general) to ease the requirements needed to certify the diver. Years ago the basic OW class was very extensive and took weeks or months to complete. Today OW classes can be completed in two days.

    Many, including myself, would argue that a diver cannot be adequately trained to safely dive in an open water environment in only two days. So, why the change? Well my guess is it is all about market pressures. The prospective diver generally has no clue what skills are required to dive safely and to enjoy diving so many times they will seek the out the shortest (and cheapest) class they can find (if this were not the case, there would be no market for the two day class). The local dive shops, in order to remain in business, must offer increasingly easier, shorter and cheaper classes by going with the agency that at the time offers the shortest class. If a shop decides to hold out, they will lose business to the shop that doesn't. That market pressure then goes up the supply chain to the agencies. If agency #1 doesn't offer a two day program, they will lose share to agency #2 that does.

    There is really no blame to assess here as the free market defines the programs and it is the people who have no idea the requirements of OW diving that are the consumers and thus drivers of the market forces.

    So, as an experienced diver, I will do what I can to give the prospective divers the knowledge they need to demand a class that will allow them to dive safely and enjoy the sport.

    I took my open water class from a university program. The agency that program used is irrelevant. As I recall, the program consisted of 15 hours of lecture and 21 hours in the pool. I'm not a dive professional so I can't speak to the current minimum requirements but I believe a standard program today is less than 10 hours in the pool. For the pre-certified, not being certified as a professional (e.g. dive master or instructor) does not mean that I am less experienced or have had less training than a professional. It simply means I've decided to go a different route in my diving education (of which there are many), not the route that is required for me to teach others.

    Anyway IMHO, ten hours is simply not enough for the average new diver to learn and practice all the skills they need to become comfortable with their gear or their environment. This has led to time spent on a specific skill to be reduced or the skill virtually eliminated all together. These sacrificed skills often show up later as new classes.

    For example (and I'm not trying to pick on any specific agencies), SSI has two specialty classes, one for boat diving and another for shore/beach diving. Makes me wonder what kind of diving the newly carded OW diver was doing prior to taking these specialties. Shouldn't the material from both of these classes been covered in the basic scuba class? PADI has a class called Peak Performance Buoyancy. Despite the word "peak" in the title, it is designed to teach you the all important skill of being able to maintain a depth in the water column using your breathing and your buoyancy compensator. Again, this is a skill that many would say should be expected of anyone entering the water and indeed is critical to that persons enjoyment of diving (can't have fun riding a bike if you keep fallling off).

    Here is what happens quite frequently to the diver who got a rush certification. He spends $200 on the class, another $200 (or quite a bit more) for the basic set of gear and gets his OW card. If the dive shop is lucky, he then buys the rest of his gear (say another $1500, again it could be significantly more). Why is that so fortunate that he went ahead and got the rest of his gear versus renting for a while? Well, because there is a very good chance the diver will soon drop out of the sport because after that first vacation for which he took his certification, he decided it really wasn't for him and here's why: he was nervous on the boat going out to the site. He was anxious getting in the water. He had a hard time descending. Once down his mask kept flooding and he was having a hard time clearing it - salt water stings. He couldn't keep from bumping against the reef (and getting stung in the process). Finally he found that he was unable to maintain his safety stop depth and spent the entire 3 mins swiming straight down to compensate for the air he neglected to vent from his BC.

    The point is diving, like many sports, isn't much fun unless you've been given the skills to do properly and those skills can't be learned in two days. If they could, we wouldn't see the drop out rate we're seeing today (if every diver certified stuck with it, there would a year long wait-list for a spot on the boat).

    For the divers that do manage to stick with it, they will either need to struggle with a good number of dives or drop money on all the speciality classes that weren't even needed before OW became what it is today.

    So please, spend the money now, take the longest class you can find or risk joining the crowd making room in their closet for the gear they'll never use again.

    To all the experienced divers on this board who see a serious problem with the continual relaxing of standards, please help me resurrect the market for eight week classes.

    Based on my experience with this board, I know the kind of arguments this post is going to generate. People will argue that today's standards are adequate. People will argue that it's all agencies so-and-so's fault or blame it on the instructors or blame it on the prospective divers as they should know better. I don't want to get into a debate as I'm still tired from the last one I had that I mentioned earlier so I'm going to do my best to simply not reply. This whole thing is nothing more than my opinion formed by what I've observed in the lakes, the oceans and the caves. And we all know what opinions are like.
     
  2. PerroneFord

    PerroneFord DIR Practitioner

    # of Dives:
    Location: The Borg Cube
    6,018
    29
    0
    My only argument is that this post makes far too much sense and thus will be summarily ignored.
     
    Terri D likes this.
  3. dherbman

    dherbman Scuba Instructor

    3,409
    0
    0
    It's a great idea. How much will such a course cost? Shall we start shutting down the resort shops now?

    The entire industry is against such a move, but it sure would be great to see. Lamont outlined a great OW course. I'll dredge up the post and see what you think of it.

    Here we go:
    And a link to the thread.
     
  4. beach89

    beach89 Nassau Grouper

    # of Dives: 0 - 24
    Location: Cleveland, Ohio
    82
    0
    0
    The OW course I'm taking is 3 days long. 7 hours pool and 10 hour classroom. I hope it's long enough.
     
  5. mfalco

    mfalco Manta Ray

    # of Dives: 100 - 199
    Location: Mashpee, MA (USA)
    698
    20
    0
    I somewhat disagree.

    I took a 3 day resort course. Basically useless unless diving with experienced divers. However this got me into diving. A year later I took the AOW course, and started diving on my own (with a buddy). Now I dive whenever I can.


    In retrospect I wish I had found a course that was allot longer and involved more training, but without the short 3 day course, I would not be diving today.
     
  6. mrjimboalaska

    mrjimboalaska Surface Interval Member

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: Florida....
    4,663
    1,264
    113
    While I am not an instructor, I do feel there is a problem with students who do not have the basic skills down being passed in OW. I have seen Many divers come out of OW that could dive and just need to dive and finetune their skills(which I am still doing).
    I think the bottom line is "you pay, you pass", and THAT is what needs to be changed. Of course, ALOT has to do with the quality of the instructor and the material he/she has taught.
     
  7. FIXXERVI6

    FIXXERVI6 Loggerhead Turtle

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: Watauga, TX
    1,747
    4
    0
    What do you think if you would have taken a discover scuba instead of a resort course, would that have bitten you enough that you would have went forward with a more involved class?
     
  8. TravisD

    TravisD Manta Ray

    # of Dives: 50 - 99
    Location: Westminster, MD
    578
    55
    0
    My wife and I are in OW right now. Part of the reason we selected the course (and LDS) was that the format was 3 nights in the classroom, and 5 nights in the pool, and finally two days in the quarry. The other LDS's in the area were only offering the "two days of pool/classroom, then two in the quarry" format and we felt that we wanted the extra time in-between in case we didn't fell comfortable with something. The 5-week format has let us go hit the pool in between to practice basic stuff (like mask clearing) and also to research equipment prior to purchase. This particular class actually emphasized trying some of the basic gear in the first couple of classes before we bought - masks and fins basically. We were able to pick out stuff with some idea of what we liked or didn't like rather than going solely on recommendations.

    My brother just signed up for the "other" shop's 2+2 course. I'm really curious to hear what he thinks of it. He's already into it for about $700 in course+basics and hasn't even hit the pool yet.
     
  9. mfalco

    mfalco Manta Ray

    # of Dives: 100 - 199
    Location: Mashpee, MA (USA)
    698
    20
    0

    Quite possibly.


    What happened was the resort offered the one day class and take you out on a dive for free. After that I was hooked. I then took the OW class from them.
     
  10. Wreck Wench

    Wreck Wench Divemaster

    # of Dives:
    Location: Salem, SC & Dallas, TX
    856
    5
    0
    Both formats have advantages...

    Many divers are comfortable in the water and have tight schedules which preclude them from taking an extended course. Obviously there are market pressures as loosebits suggested but resort courses do not fall into this category and they remain quite popular and have produced many a diver who as a result really wants to really learn the sport after having the appetizer so to speak.

    Other students need more time or just can't absorb everything they need to know in a shortened format. Or perhaps they are cautious and want some wiggle room in case they encounter an issue such as TravisD and his wife.

    I think divers should be offered both options by dive shops with the relative advantages and disadvantages to each format. Usually when presented logically people will make the best choice for themselves which is usually the best choice in general.

    And the LDS can use this as a selling point..."we cater to our divers by matchng their needs with our instruction". The LDS then merely educates the diver as to what their choices are and encourages the diver to make a decision based upon other criteria than price. Most students will appreciate the education, the opportunity to choose and subsequently get more out of the class since they will feel it is more closely geared to thier needs.

    I know that I needed the longer class to do remedial work in between pool sessions. Had I been in the accelerated course I would not have been able to keep pace. However someone very comfortable in the water or someone who has done a resort course would do fine in the accelerated format without sacraficing any of the required knowledge they needed to obtain. What you might sacrafice in the shorter class is the chance for more personalized attention which can be another advantage of the longer format.
     
  11. Matsya

    Matsya Barracuda

    # of Dives: 50 - 99
    Location: Muscat, Sultanate of Oman
    209
    0
    0
    I totally agree that current training standards are woefully inadequate and pathetic. Lamont's post is comprehensive and says it all (except the part about the bp/wings that I don't agree with).
    But mfalco has a point.
    The part of the world that I live in doesn't offer variety in the matter of courses/instructors. Very limited. Just a few hours into the course and I knew that they were not even skimming the surface. Basically it was - get him into a BCD, stick a regulator in his mouth, get him to descend, turn back at 110 bar.
    But I wanted to dive. At the same time I realised that I had so much to learn.
    I make it a point to dive as much as possible with experienced divers who are willing to share their experience with me. I follow most posts in scubaboard avidly searching for information and knowledge to gain.
    I believe that what I did not get in class, I am getting it now and for free !!! I am in no hurry. I am taking small steps. The intention is to assimilate knowledge little by little. Each time I learn something new, I try to make it a point to try it out on my next dive.
    So even if I don't have much to thank my instructors for, I am grateful to this Board and to my more experienced diving buddies who have been very patient in helping me overcome poor training.
    Doing my Nitrox Certification tomorrow !!!
     
  12. FIXXERVI6

    FIXXERVI6 Loggerhead Turtle

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: Watauga, TX
    1,747
    4
    0
    This is what I want to see, both formats offered and information given about disadvantage and advantage for both.
     
  13. jbichsel

    jbichsel Scuba Instructor

    731
    0
    0
    No arguement here. I'm all in favor of banning short course and getting back to instruction that actually produces confident, well trained divers rather than nervous, unskilled crawlers.
     
  14. vondo

    vondo Single Diver

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: Aurora, IL
    984
    31
    0

    I'll just make two short points:

    1) I didn't find the pool time particularly useful. In a 10 ft deep pool with 6 students and 2 instuctors, it is really crowded and getting your bouyancy worked out is difficult. I'm not sure spending 30 hours in the pool would be nearly as useful as adding more OW skills dives under the supervision of an instructor. Basically the pool seems to be to get students used to the gear and a little practice in the skills in what they perceive as a safe environment.

    2) I don't think that people are dropping out of diving because they don't enjoy it (and would with better training). Lots of people do various activities once in a while, get really excited about a hobby and then drop it. I don't think this necessarily has anything to do with diving in particular.
     
  15. FIXXERVI6

    FIXXERVI6 Loggerhead Turtle

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: Watauga, TX
    1,747
    4
    0
    I had a lot of pool time, more than most as I took a university class, we didn't spend all of the pool time sitting on our knees doing skills, I remember more than one pool session dedicated to bouancy and swimming around, we also as an OW class had to do additional skills such as ditch and don (swim to the bottom remove all gear, swim to the surface, tred water, swim back down and put all your gear back on ) and stuff like that.
     
  16. limeyx

    limeyx SoCal DIR

    3,054
    46
    0
    What post?
     
  17. Fotoz4FX

    Fotoz4FX Scuba Instructor

    # of Dives: I'm a Fish!
    Location: Bucks County, PA
    133
    1
    0
    No where NEAR enough... welcome to crash course 101 - a quick way to die.
     
  18. Ann Marie

    Ann Marie be happy ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: California
    3,491
    20
    0
    I agree with the original post. I don't know how those 2 day courses get everything taught... I think it would be great if all divers plunked down $2000 and as instructors we could teach a course that lasted 3 months and could cover a great deal more than the standard open water. But is that likely to happen...no. Time and money constrains on everyone just about nips that idea in the bud.

    I personally tell all of my students that they should equate open water with elementary school. Yes, you should be able to read and write but are you ready for Shakespear?? Is a blackbelt in martial arts earned in 2 weeks? Heck no!

    Completing an open water class does not make you a diver! It gives you the skills to begin your diving adventures.

    I just don't understand why people think that they should take one class to learn everything??? H-e-l-l-o.... do you only take one ski class, one golf class, one karate class and then feel you are a pro????

    get real people!

    okay--off the soap box now! :D
     
  19. FIXXERVI6

    FIXXERVI6 Loggerhead Turtle

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: Watauga, TX
    1,747
    4
    0
    One thing I think about for shops too, with longer classes they are going to say they will lose money, dive masters don't work for free and such, and they would be right, but if they charged more and combined a bunch of classes the student would not be paying more for the same education and the shop wouldn't be doing more work for less pay, like take how much Padi OW, Nitrox, with a few specialties would cost, roll those up into one class and offer more pool time with it, like when you start into teaching nitrox, still do pool work for basic OW skills, when you start into "gear specialty" or whatever, still do pool work for basic OW skills, at the end of the class they will have had a ton of pool time and a rounded education instead of the "this end goes into your mouth, breath, here is your card, come back and pay me again to learn how to clear your mask" method

    I've always thought Nitrox should be a part of OW anyway, or at a minimum AOW

    anyway just a thought, I don't feel like working :)

    Oh and that wasn't a Padi bash it was just an example so you Padi preachers please don't get offended, you could to the same with NAUI and SSI I just chose padi as an example
     
  20. loosebits

    loosebits Manta Ray

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: DFW, TX
    1,163
    1
    0
    I said I wouldn't reply but I should have included this in my original post.

    This is what an OW diver (IMHO of course) should come close to looking like after getting out of class. Forget the gear and the modified frog kick, notice this diver's orientation in the water - completely horizontal.

    This diver is about 4' off the bottom. I know he could be 4" off the bottom if he wanted to and never touch it (no this isn't a picture of me :)). That would probably take a little more practice than is practical in OW but we should be getting within a foot or so by the time we do our checkout dives.

    The 10 hours in the pool are cheating divers out of skills just like this.

    BTW, you probably won't see a lot of this on the reef just because most divers, even the ones with a hundred dives under their belts, were never told this is what they needed to strive for.
     

Share This Page