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Teaching ascent to new divers

Discussion in 'Basic Scuba Discussions' started by CAPTAIN SINBAD, Nov 27, 2019.


    CAPTAIN SINBAD Divemaster Candidate

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: Woodbridge VA
    I have a question for instructors and dive professionals. Why do we not train new divers to dive the way we dive ourselves? For example, when you are ascending after a dive, do you deflate your BCD to get yourself negative and then assume an upright position so that you make kick your way up to the surface while negative? Or do you ascend in horizontal trim using your breathing and then deflate your wing on the way up to manage your ascent? How many dive professionals actually dive this way when they are not training?

    FreeFlyFreak likes this.
  2. TMHeimer

    TMHeimer Divemaster

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: Dartmouth,NS,Canada(Eastern Passage-Atlantic)
    When boat diving I am of course neutrally buoyant during the dive (usually right close to the bottom). To ascend I go to the anchor line and slowly pull myself up (vertically) to the safety stop venting BC air as required. Most others I've observed do the same thing.
    Side note--I pull myself down on the line head first, looking back to check buddy if I'm leading. I go as fast as is OK with the buddy.
    Blueringocto_73 likes this.
  3. tursiops

    tursiops Marine Scientist and Master Instructor ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: 2,500 - 4,999
    Location: U.S. East Coast
    Because people can't learn everything all at once, and buoyancy is one of the hardest things to master. They need to learn a safe, easy to control, uncomplicated ascent that does not depend on solid buoyancy skills, so they can go diving and have fun. Then the training can get more complicated as they get more competent and experienced. I am NOT suggesting they need to learn a bad habit which later they have to unlearn, but I AM suggesting they don't need to learn the hard way to do things when they are starting out.

    Oh, and by the way, no competent instructor is going to have them fully deflate their BCD prior to ascending; the goal is only to be slightly negative, not as heavy as possible, to avoid run-away buoyancy issues.

    CAPTAIN SINBAD Divemaster Candidate

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: Woodbridge VA
    Sure that reasoning I understand but at which course level do we confess to the student that what we taught them in the open water course was the flawed method? Peak Performance Buoyancy?

    I am not being a scuba snob here. Just trying to understand the thought process behind curriculum design for my own good.
  5. JackD342

    JackD342 Dive Shop

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: Highland Park, IL
    Different does not equal “flawed.”

    CAPTAIN SINBAD Divemaster Candidate

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: Woodbridge VA
    Alright so at which course level do we teach them to dive “differently?”
  7. MichaelMc

    MichaelMc Divemaster Candidate

    # of Dives: 100 - 199
    Location: Berkeley, CA
    I'm not a pro as I only assist and with post-AOW students. I ascend horizontal, on my dives or when assisting. And I initiate my ascent while horizontal. We try to steer our students that way as a more refined ascent method. Buoyancy/Trim/(Ascent/Descent) is the lecture I created and gave as part of my DM training.

    I think the complication is saying:
    A) 'stay a bit more buoyant for more of your breathing cycle so you start to ascend'
    while saying
    B) 'do not ever hold your breath, specifically do not close your glottis.'

    That I can tell, A is the only way to start a horizontal ascent, assuming you do not just add BC air just to vent it once you start, or kick up briefly. Yet 'lungs a bit more buoyant yet not breath holding' is a delicate message. Particularly as an action to start an ascent, which will expand your lung's air.

    Emphasizing the small size of our normal tidal volume relative to our full respirator range and that only a small shift of volume or timing is needed to start the ascent, and thus stays far away from a dangerously full lung has seemed the key. But it is a bit past 'breath from this, don't hold your breath'. Lung volumes - Wikipedia

    With some possible types of ascent being:
    1) 'push the air-add go-up button' - BAD. A great way to become a missile.
    2) Vent a bit (as an anti-missile measure), and swim upward. Very preferable to 1, and easily understood. Yet depth control via kick strength modulation is not a simple task, particularly if you get distracted.
    3) Let your breath cycle go a little positive on average, vent as you ascend, horizontal for more drag and thus easier depth control. Lots of advantages, but a more subtle message.

    When and how to teach..., I just assist. That training thing is up to you great instructors :). It does sound as if the OW curricula encourages horizontal positioning in general.

    ETA: that is a 2013 video. Are there some more recent demonstration videos from agencies?
    Their, Dive Training Magazine, 2017 video seems to show a bit more slanted upward approach, though they are definitely not horizontal.
    Blueringocto_73 and Esprise Me like this.
  8. tursiops

    tursiops Marine Scientist and Master Instructor ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: 2,500 - 4,999
    Location: U.S. East Coast
    When they are ready. And we never say stop doing it this way, but rarher here is another way that you might find more comfortable or useful in certain situations. Could be dive 4 of OW, could be AOW, could be PPB if they have nailed their buoyancy. It is in no specific course because it really is not a specific skill...it is an application of several skills.
    CAPTAIN SINBAD and Diving Dubai like this.
  9. ScubaWithTurk

    ScubaWithTurk Bubble Blowing Buddha

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: Al Ain, Abu Dhabi, UAE
    This is a great question and one I have also spent time thinking about as an instructor. Where in the progression of courses should the horizontal and in trim ascent me taught and how?

    In the OWC I teach the vertical ascent as prescribed. However, when the students are doing the ascents, I am with them doing a horizontal ascent. This way they learn to do the ascent as they are meant too but also see a different way to ascend. I have found that if you have a student who does the OWC and the AOW course with you, by the time they take the AOW, they try to emulate your skills such as the horizontal ascent. I see them try it once and when they do, we sit post-dive and discuss why they did it, how they thought it went and then I give them some pointers to put into practice on following dives. It is role-modeling good behaviors.

    Should it actually be prescribed to teach somewhere? Yes it should and maybe the advanced course is the place for that to happen but I am open to suggestions from others.

    Now back to role-modeling, I make sure that when I am on a boat with relatively new divers, even when they are not people I know, I do a buddy check. I do it loud enough for everyone to hear and have found those about to splash without doing one will then stop, do a buddy check and then splash. I am teaching without teaching if that makes sense. I fully believe that it is our job as professionals to always be role-models and to practice good dive behaviors. This works better than one would think.

    I have seen divers who could not frog kick and who may never have seen one, try to frog kick because they see me doing it. Monkey see, monkey do.
    Ben_3 and NothingClever like this.
  10. FreeFlyFreak

    FreeFlyFreak Solo Diver

    # of Dives: 25 - 49
    Location: California
    I taught myself on my 7th dive after certification.
    6th dive was my first boat dive, got thrashed around on an anchor line with 3 other idiots.

    Next dive I decided there had to be a better/easier way.

    Started at 30ft bottom ascended horizontally next to the line using breath to ascend and venting as necessary. Spent the next mins being highly entertained watching 3 other people being thrashed up and down on the line at the SS.
    It was an ah ha moment.

    It should be taught day 1 AFAIK

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