So, after working your way through the first part of your PADI divemaster academics it is on to your water work as part of your divemaster course. The water section is split into 5 sections.
Part 1 – Waterskills and Stamina Test
As an active status divemaster it’s very important to maintain a certain level of fitness, in case you are called upon to perform an inwater rescue, as well as the fact you are playing a role model to other divers. For this, you are required to perform 5 exercises in which you must attain an overall score of at least 15 points. Each skill is scored from 1 – 5 so as you can see you are being tested on a general stamina aspect rather than speed. The 5 things that you will have to do are;
400m swim, 15 minute float, 800m snorkel and a 100m tired diver tow.
The fifth exercise is an equipment exchange. During this exercise you work in buddy teams and whilst sharing a single air source you change all of your scuba diving equipment over. This includes mask, fins and BCD. Wetsuit and weight belts are not to be exchanged. The important thing to remember is that this is not a timed exercise, as long as you both stay underwater and only keep one air source in play at all times you can get a 5. Here is an example of an equipment exchange being completed in confined water. The reason behind this exercise is to test your problem solving abilities. It has been nicknamed the “stress test” in some areas and yes, it is stressful as you are performing tasks that you would not normally be performing, but it is more dealing with team work and your ability to solve novel problems as they occur.
For all of your stamina sections you want to start training as soon as possible and go slow and steady to get your overall points….good luck!
One of your duties as a divemaster is to run refresher courses and assist on classes. For this, you will need to be able to demonstrate all the basic scuba skills in confined water. For the divemaster you need to complete a 24 skill, skill circuit. This include the 20 basic skills from the open water course as well as the 4 skills from the PADI Skin diver course, duck diving, snorkel clearing and swimming underwater. At Go Pro Costa Rica we like to embellish a bit on this as we are keen skin divers, so for this part we include breathing techniques and proper, correct duck diving techniques.
The scuba diving skills are rated each skill from 1 – 5. A “3” is equivalent of an open water diver, as in you just do the skill. What you are aiming for is a “4” or a “5” meaning that you perform the skill, slowly with exaggerated movements. The skills are as follows;
Equipment assembly and disassembly;
Predive safety Check (Buddy Check);
Deep Water Entry;
Snorkel to Regulator exchange;
Mask Removal and Replace;
Air Depletion & Alternate Air Source;
Buoyancy Control (Fin Pivot);
5 Point Descent – (Signal Orientation Regulator Time Descend);
5 Point Ascent – (Signal Time Elevate arms Look Ascend);
No Mask Swim;
BCD removal underwater;
Weight Belt removal underwater;
BCD removal surface;
Weight Belt Removal Surface;
Controlled Emergency Swimming Ascent;
Alternate Air Source Assisted Ascent;
Free Flowing Regulator;
Part 3 – Practical Skills
This section covers 5 skills to improve your general diving skills as a professional. It gives you the chance to cover personal diving attributes that will benefit you as a scuba diving professional. The first one is dive site set up and management where you are looking at how to organize a dive group at a site, in our case here on a dive boat where you need to make sure that everything you need to run the trip is organized and available. This can include emergency equipment, O2 and extra dive gear. The second skill is a mapping project where you have to produce a dive site map. The way I would characterize this is as something you could show and open water diver to get an idea of the place he will be diving. It need to include topographical information, spot depths, interesting features and compass bearings. It can be mapped out as a buddy team but each individual candidate need to produce their own map. Ask at your dive center for any previous maps that may be available. Skill 3 is your dive briefing. As part of your divemaster equipment package you will be presented with slates on which is an outline for a divemaster briefing. This can be used to help you practice and perform your briefing for your dive group which will need to include important information including, site information, safety procedures, entry and exit techniques and hand signals amongst other things. The fourth and fifth skills cover search and recovery and deep diving practice. These are not just an extra dive of each. The introduce techniques useful in these sort of scenarios. For example, for the deep diving scenario we introduce the use of pony bottles and redundant air sources as part of your safety equipment when leading deep dives. The addition of a pony bottle to any divers equipment can be difficult at first as it will throw your buoyancy but with practice it becomes second nature. With the search and recovery scenario we use a number of dives to practice different search techniques. These include circular searches, square searches and “jackstays”. It is also more at assessing your environment, equipment, terrain etc to utilize the best search possible. With the scenario practice you are then able to do that.
With all of this deep dive and search and recovery practice it is very easy to convert the skills into the corresponding specialties.
Part 4 – Divemaster Conducted Programs
There are 5 workshops in which you will work at during your divemaster internship. These, at Go Pro Costa Rica, we try to incorporate into the program later on once you have some experience under your belt. The first one is conducing a scuba review in confined water, demonstrating all of the dive skills to someone who hasn’t been diving in a while and then correcting a problem that may occur. The second workshop is running a skin diver course and snorkeling program. With free diver practice we have here at Go Pro Costa Rica this is a chance to practice your free diving and pass on your new skills to eager students.
Workshop 3 and 4 are working with the discover scuba diving program. The discover scuba diving program is an experience for a non-certified diver. One workshop involves taking a discover scuba diver participant in confined water to complete the skills and the second is working with them on their additional open water dive. As a PADI divemaster you cannot take a discover scuba participant into the open ocean on their first dive, only on subsequent dives. You would need to be a PADI instructor to conduct the first open water dive. The Last workshop is the Discover Local Diving Program. The idea behind this is an introduction to the local dive environment for certified divers. This, for us is what divemasters are conducting everyday, a guided tour of the underwater world. So it would be practicing your briefing, specifically focusing on underwater topography, marine life and water conditions. There will be plenty of practice at all 5 of these during an internship program.
Part 5 – Practical Assessments
The last in-water section is 4 assessments. These are mostly revolving around your role as a certified assistant to a PADI Scuba Instructor. The first 2 are working with open water students. You have to work with them in confined and open water. Under the supervision of an instructor you will assist with logistics, demonstrations, helping with students that may have problems and supervision. With Open water , it is more of a supervisory role, keeping an eye on the students that are not under direct supervision of the instructor. Another assessment is working with students on a continuing education program. Again this can be in the form of logistics, buddying up with them, and/or supervising. For this, you could be working with any number of programs, from any of the specialties up to and including a rescue course, maybe even a search and recovery course. The final assessment is with certified divers. Similar to you discover local diving program, you will guide and lead certified divers on an underwater tour.
PHEW! A lot to cover I know but once you get into your divemaster program you will easily accomplish this. It’s important to stay on track with your instructor and make sure that you are covering everything that you need to.
The final thing that you will be marked on at the end of your divemaster program is professionalism. Yes indeed, we, as instructors get the chance to score you on your overall performance during the program. This is mainly to do with attitude, because as I say to my instructor candidates, we give you the tools but only you have the right attitude to be a good divemaster. Some of the points covered during this include, appearance, level of active, positive participation and willingness to follow directions, so keep that in mind as you are working through your program. If you at any point are having problems, it is very important that you communicate with your instructors during the course. There is a lot to cover, and whilst yes, it is a professional certification that must be taken seriously, you are also there to have fun!