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Friday, January 31st... I got in the car and headed over to Atlanta. I'll spare you the details of meeting Mr. Officer on the way up. He was cool enough to write me a warning for having expired plates, but the embarrassment was real. Have you seen the Georgia State Patrol's cars when the gumball lights are on? '70's discos would be envious. Sheesh.
I called ahead of time to Jim, the instructor/divemaster who arranged for GUE to send Andrew G. and Michael Kane (MHK on this board) to let him know that I was running a bit behind schedule. I felt terrible for showing up a half hour late, but hey... They didn't ride me too hard about it. I met MHK, Andrew and Jim, plus Jay, "lackey extraordinaire," Matt (a well-experienced cave diver who's heard all of the wonderful things that DIR offers), Claudia (the owner of a dive shop and a PADI instructor), and even Jim's wonderful son and wife. What a great bunch of people!
I was the youngest in the bunch, although most of us were within a decade of each other. I was severely less experienced than everyone else, but was easily the most excited, and so most of my fears were put to rest.
From 7:30pm until nearly midnight we basically had class... This involved a very in-depth discussion about DIR, the "Fundementals," and some basic overviews on gear configuration. We discussed the shortcomings of the current dive industry as a whole, and how GUE was working to correct that. We discussed technique, body positioning, and diving styles. We even got the opportunity to do a few "dry run" drills of some of the techniques that we'd be doing over the weekend.
In all, I was very "pumped" by the end of the class. Andrew and MHK were amazingly patient with me. I sat there and drilled them with question after question not only about DIR, but about diving in general. These guys had a very thorough understanding of the physiology of diving, and as such I was able to get answers to questions that I've always had... But never been able to find the answers to.
We watched a power point presentation, complete with lots of video (some of which I have online here), that taught technique and answered questions that I had. Their knowlege put my head into a tailspin... I almost couldn't sleep that night, thinking of all of the things I'd learned!
Let me see if I can give you a few real "gems" of the knowlege that was shared that night...
* DIR teaches no reliance on dive computers. While this was a particular concern of mine, they instead teach a way to keep a running and accurate tally of your nitrogen loading right in your head. It's easy and totally dependable. I was floored.
* These guys showed me ways of using gear that I had never even thought of before... And in such a fashion as to have everything come "second nature" at any given point. Did you know that the rear dump is supposed to be on the left side of your wing? That's so that any buoyancy issue that you have can be taken care of with your left hand... No matter which dump you use, or if you are needing to inflate some.
*A variety of new kick styles were added to my "toolbox." I now had new kicks to use for specialized situations. Did you know that people swim faster using a frog kick than with your standard, "kick from the hip" flutter? It's less tiring, too. Now why didn't I know about this before? This could have saved me many, many psi...
* Almost all of us were taught to dive "on our knees." Think about it... The first time you did an OOA drill with your instructor, weren't you on your knees? Do you realize how this affects the rest of your diving, permanently?
* DIR teaches "practice." It seems silly, but do you know when the last time it was that you practiced an out of air emergency? Why would you believe that you can do it perfectly if you don't ever practice it? Doesn't this seem basic?
*Do you know why DIR divers dive a 7' hose? Do you know who exits first from the overhead... The person with the OOA emergency, or the donor? The answer would probably surprise you as it did me.
* Most of all, I was encouraged to ask "why." I was encouraged to argue and ask, and to converse and work out my issues and misunderstandings, largely due to misinformation that I'd read here on this and many other boards.
* Another thing that struck me about this class was that these guys were fun! They were just having a blast, and so was I.
What a great class. It's not possible to tell you about all of the little "gems" that I picked up through the evening. Heck, man... Just finding out how to do the running nitrogen level in your mind was worth the price of admission.
That night, I laid my head on my pillow and tried to stop thinking about the formula which they'd given me on how to predict my buoyancy by knowing just a few bits of information. In my head I kept running through scenarios and gear configurations like dry suits, wet suits, steel and aluminum backplates, weight belts, doubles vs. singles... The whole thing. I could now accurately predict how much weight I'd need in specific situations, and how much should be ditchable or nonditchable. I mean, it was just extraordinary how much I learned that night.
And still I didn't catch it all. I'm going to have to take another DIR-F class again.
By far, this one night of classroom instruction was the most information-packed class I've ever taken. Very impressive!
I went to sleep that night wondering how this additional knowlege was going to improve my dive skills. I was very much looking forward to getting in the water with everyone the next day and getting even better than I already was. I couldn't wait to "show off" my new skills. Saturday morning was going to be like Friday night, only with DIVING...
Last edited by SeaJay; February 11th, 2003 at 02:39 AM.
SeaJay once bubbled... * DIR teaches "practice." It seems silly, but do you know when the last time it was that you practiced an out of air emergency? Why would you believe that you can do it perfectly if you don't ever practice it? Doesn't this seem basic?
Yes. That skill, as well as others, are practiced on a regular basis. This is just common sense, not part of a doctrine.
I'm glad you enjoyed the class and feel you got your moneys worth.
Glad to hear all went well and you learned a bunch...... I plan to take the course sometime this summer myself.....
So where's the rest?..... you know, the part where your ego gets squished, your back aches from arching it so much and your legs are about to fall off from doing the frog kicks..... you know - the good stuff?