My open water certification took place in a YMCA pool in Nashville and in a rock quarry in Hopkinsville, KY. Thousands of divers who aren’t fortunate enough to live near salt water, the Great Lakes, or clear freshwater springs share that similarity with me. At the time it seemed fine, even up until I became a SCUBA instructor it seemed fine. We would gear up on a bench, giant stride into dead calm water and descend down a line to a wood platform. There’s not much else to consider. Spending a lot of time on dive boats and at dive sites over the years has me thinking differently now though. I don’t like to issue Open Water certifications without diving in multiple environments.
I’m not knocking rock quarries as training sites here, in fact far from it. They are great places to train students for many reasons. Varying temperatures and visibility demand a high level of situational awareness, which is a good thing for students to strive for. What I am knocking is the issuance of an open water certification card to a diver that has ONLY been diving in a quarry. Telling a freshly certified diver that they are free to dive in ANY aquatic environment when ALL of their training has been in one single rock quarry does not set that diver up for success. I have witnessed divers on multiple occasions get into trouble when they over confidently jump off a boat for a drift dive and are exposed to high current for the first time, or it’s impossible to descend because they have never experienced needing more weight in salt water than fresh water. Dive boat etiquette is a big one as well, how can students learn about gear management on a rocking boat without experiencing it at least once? There are dozens of nuances that go with diving, and many can’t be picked up by diving inland quarries. For this reason, I strongly recommend that final checkout dives be completed in salt water for my Open Water SCUBA classes taught in Nashville. While an instructor could never expose students to all of the underwater environments they will encounter as certified divers, I believe that a healthy mixture of training locations set divers up for success as well as a long and fun diving career.
If you are already a certified SCUBA diver or even researching becoming one, you have more than likely heard of the specialty courses that are available after the completion of your open water course. The list of specialty courses offers a solution for some of the items listed above, but I don’t completely agree that a diver should have to pay additional money for something that could and should be included in their initial Open Water SCUBA program. Most of the specialty courses are incredibly useful and will make you a better diver, but some just aren’t necessary. Especially when the certification itself is all but useless and the amount of knowledge gained is minimal. Click here to read more about Specialty Courses.
If Open Water SCUBA training in Nashville appeals to you, feel free to reach out to me. I am always happy to customize schedules and training locations to fit your needs diving goals.