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Learning to Scuba Dive – The PADI Open Water Diver Course

Learning to Scuba Dive – The PADI Open Water Diver Course

The PADI Open Water Diver Course teaches you the fundamentals of scuba diving. You’ll learn about all of your scuba diving equipment and how to gear up correctly, and all the basic diving dos and don’ts. On successful completion, you will receive an Open Water Diver card and a diver number – your key to the exciting and exhilarating world of scuba diving. With this under your belt, you can hire equipment and dive to your heart’s content (within the safety parameters, of course!) and you needn’t sit a single test more, if you don’t want to. Most divers, however, find themselves hooked by this stage, and progress to the PADI Advanced Open Water Diver Course, providing them with the necessary training to dive to deeper depths.

The PADI Open Water Diver Course lasts from 3 to 5 days. It teaches the necessary skills to enable you to plan and dive to a maximum of 18 metres. You may find it all a bit daunting at the outset, but it’s surprising how quickly you learn. You’ll be gearing up like a pro in no time!

There are two parts to the course: practical and knowledge. You’ll need to invest in a PADI Open Water Course Crew Pack. This contains your PADI Manual, which contains all you need to know about diving and your scuba diving equipment. You’ll also receive a dive table (for dive planning) and logbook to record all of your dives. Some Crew Packs also feature a PADI Open Water DVD – a useful learning aid. You may undertake the knowledge section of your PADI course online before commencing your practical training. Ideally, though, you should undertake the knowledge and practical aspects concurrently. You wouldn’t, after all, take your driving theory test without ever having sat behind the steering wheel.

The practical side of the course will consist of five confined water sessions followed by four open water dives – where the fun really starts! Some of the practical skills you will learn include:

  • Mask clearing and removal
  • Failed BCD inflator
  • Alternate air source use
  • Regulator freeflow
  • Buoyancy control
  • Kit removal and refit
  • Tired diver tow
  • Controlled emergency swimming ascent
  • Compass use (on land and underwater)

You must be at least 10 years old to undertake the PADI Open Water Diver course. There is no maximum age limit. You’ll need to be able to swim 200 metres unaided (or 300 metres with flippers and snorkel) and tread water for ten minutes. Bearing in mind that the average swimming pool is approximately 25 metres long, this equates to approximately 8 lengths (without stops). You will need to complete a health questionnaire prior to your training. If you have a pre-existing medical condition, this may not necessarily preclude you from diving. If you have any health concerns, it would be prudent to visit your doctor beforehand to discuss them, and, if necessary, obtain a note confirming your fitness. This may save the inconvenience and expense of a doctor’s examination once you reach the resort.

Once you’ve decided that scuba is for you, your next step will be choosing where to learn. With tens of thousands of PADI approved dive centres worldwide, you certainly won’t be short of choice. Pick out your scuba diving equipment, gear up and go!