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The Divemaster Chronicles
Chapter 3: An initial look at exercises
A Divemaster has a few functions as a dive professional. First of all, a Divemaster is a resource for divers, for information about weather, wildlife, equipment failures, general advice about dives, and guidance underwater. Secondly, a Divemaster is an essential assistant for Instructors during various courses. Finally, a Divemaster is able to conduct Discover Scuba course and the PADI Skin Diver course, keystone courses marking the beginning of each person’s scuba diving journey. All of these responsibilities define what roles the Divemaster needs to be able to fulfill, and therefore, the skills required to be perfected. I’ve been to the pool a few times with Greg now, some with more advanced Divemasters in training, some to assist Instructor training before their exams start, so let’s talk a little about the skills required during Divemaster Training.
Essential Open Water Skills
As a possible assistant for all PADI courses, the Divemaster needs to perform flawlessly all skills required of students. It’s important to master all the skills to be a proper role model and to be able to help students struggling with certain steps. Think about it, if the professional diver supervising you can’t perform the skill you, an inexperienced new diver, are expected to do, it’s rather discouraging, and does not encourage you to succeed. Among the skills are clearing a half-flooded or fully-flooded mask, mastering the fin pivot and hovering techniques, controlling safety procedures such as the controlled emergency ascent or out-of-air buddy sharing system. Although it’s important for a Divemaster to be able to perform the skills perfectly, it’s also extremely important to be able to demonstrate the skills in a way that students who have never practiced it to understand and replicate. Demonstrating skills underwater requires clear communication and exaggerated steps, to really break down the movement and point out important parts. This break-down of skills focuses on critical attributes within specific skills.
Critical attributes are the essential steps that needs to be exaggerated in a skill to give a thorough and detailed demonstration that any student diver will understand and be able to replicate. When I first learned about these and considered the skills I had to demonstrate, it seemed unnecessary, as most skills become second nature with dive experience. However, I realized soon after that without those critical attributes, it was impossible to explain a skill well enough to be understood by everyone. Let’s take an example: clearing a half-flooded mask. I probably clear my mask 50 times per dive, because I smile too much and water seeps in through the bottom of my mask and floods my nose. I never realized you could break down clearing a half-flooded mask in not one, not two, but six steps! Four of those being critical attributes aimed at thoroughly explaining the skill, the other two being more of the format Greg likes to use for maximum efficiency. Think about it, your diving, you mask gets a little water in it, without a second thought you clear it and go on with the dive. The skill is easy as breathing through your regulator now. But demonstrating it is something else.
First, get everyone’s attention on you, ask if all the students are OK, are ready to start the skill. Signal for them to watch you, signal what skill you are about to demonstrate. Start the demonstration: 1, use your finger to let water in at the top of your mask, half-flooding the mask. 2, press four fingers on the top of the lenses, pressing gently. 3, bring your head down, chin against your chest. 4, blow air through your nose while slowly looking up, effectively cleaning your mask. That’s six exaggerated steps needed to demonstrate this skill. It’s important to think and treat whoever you are supervising during these skills like they have no idea what the skill is and how to perform it. This ensures thoroughness and makes the learning easier for the student!
A few notes on the theory: it’s very fluid and swift reading, the quizzes help focus the learning on specific points. The texts are easy to read, and jokes are mixed into the information, so it is very pleasant studying. I also have to admit that I absolutely adore the coursepack. If you get the paper version of the Divemaster theory, you get a crewpack, with the Encyclopedia of Scuba Diving, a binder with training log book, exam questions… It was like opening a christmas present when I first received it! The bag also has a PADI logo on the front, so I’ll definitely be showing it off at university next semester :)
All in all, the few pool practices so far have been wonderful. I am polishing my skills a bit more every time, and slowly learning the demonstration techniques Greg is so rigorous about. I’ve always loved sharing my passions and teaching groups, so every new challenge in this Divemaster training just reinforces my excitement towards this whole summer.
That’s it for this week’s update! I hope you enjoyed the first few points I had to share, and see you next time!
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