Divecrew Blog

Psychology and Scuba

At Divecrew we try not to teach divers as a homogenous group. Everyone is different. So how did we get to the this point? Well first thing is we challenge some agencies as they tend to turn our “sheep” instructors. Instructors being professional should use a range of skills and techniques so that every diver student can be taught in comfort and safety. Working with Deptherapy and injured troops heightened our senses to the individual needs of the divers. The “sheep” mentality is challenged as to what is a technique and what is a standard. For example many instructors talk of a giant stride as a deep water entry. So what is the best entry for a student? The easiest! Simple. The standards state a deep water entry not a giant stride.

When working with the troops, some of whom have missing limbs, it is seen so often that instructors know best. Normally the instructors do not have limbs missing. Therefore, one cannot put themselves in that students place. Sometimes the instructor has to state the output and ask the student how they think they can best achieve it.

Divecrew have been fortunate to work with an autistic group. Many wrote the group off stating scuba was just too much for them. Wrong! The students completed their open water but a miraculous change happened. At the beginning the students were withdrawn. We struggled to get them to participate. Eventually the barriers went down. By the end of the training, the students were laughing and joking with the team. Their confidence went through the roof.

So do we deploy different tactics. Yes we do. Divecrew are multi-agency and believe no one agency has it completely right. PADI, SSI, RAID and BSAC. So what our senior instructors do is work with the agencies standards then add value to the course by supplementing skills and training techniques. Our speciality courses are enhanced giving any diver more value, more skills, more understanding. Once the senior team agree on a skill, the skill and technique is cascaded down through professional master classes. These free classes for Divecrew professionals teach skills, techniques and control. We discuss the psychology of scuba and students. Everything possible is undertaken to ensure our students re well trained and at all times feel safe. We undertake our own Quality Assurance through the senior professionals. So regardless of the course being taught, a Master Instructors may show up to observe. When we have new instructors, they must go through an internship. Unfortunately too many instructors believe once they have the ticket they have the right to teach. Some lapse into bad habits. Some become complacent. Some out of date and out of touch. Unlike some other sports, scuba instructors do not have to have annual assessments to ensure they are up to date and technically correct.

Divecrew believe agencies should do more to teach instructors adaptive methods and how to treat divers as individuals. The psychology of scuba should be a pivotal component in the instructor candidates development. Blindly following a set powerpoint and or a slate, is not conducive to teaching professionally. It makes a mockery of being “Professional Educators”.

So our advice. If your chosen dive centre do not treat you with respect and as an individual, find another dive centre.

Mask skills

When training, most divers will happily throw their regulator away underwater, but are not happy to flood and clear a mask. It never ceases to amaze me how the one thing keeping the diver alive underwater matters less to them, than their mask.

So what’s the best agency for mask skills? BSAC, SSI, PADI or RAID. Well in my view none of them and all of them. When we teach instructors for Deptherapy we look at the ‘Standards’ for the skill. So what is the standard and what is just technique? When we work with injured troops, some cannot do Giant Stride (they have no legs). The standards state, ‘Deep water entry’. It does not state giant stride. So what is the best entry into the water for a diver? The easiest!.

Where instructors insist on mask clearing performed in a certain way, criticising or correcting a student because they have not performed the skill in the exact way an instructor has, this is just simply wrong. Yes the student should meet the standard of clearing a mask, but some of my students have one hand! I have two.

Sadly a lot of agencies turn out mini me’s and or sheep. Students are not homogenous. They are all different. In my humble opinion, no agency teaches enough main stream instructors about the psychology of diving. No agency spends enough time on what a standard is and what is just technique.

Sometimes with students they prefer to offer the mask to the face, clear it, then put the strap on. Some prefer to pull the skirt away at the bottom, some put pressure on the top of the mask. Some look to the surface to clear a mask some do not. The point is, can they comfortably clear a mask, with repetition and mastery?

students often have the masks just too tight, making the skill difficult if removing a mask and then replacing it. They struggle to replace the strap over their head, pull the mask to their face in an attempt to do so, forcing water up the nose. Divers with long hair find the silicon strap grabs the hair. Simple solution is a slap band.

Deptherapy teaches instructors that they are not God’s, they do not have all the answers by some magical divine right from attending an Instructor Examination. Most instructors I see working with the physically challenged are not physically challenged themselves. So one cannot put themselves in that students place. When we teach at Divecrew and or Deptherapy, we state the standard/objective required and speak with the student on how do they think they can achieve it. Most amputees can perform incredible feats as they have had years of adjustment. Bi-lateral amputees generally have incredible upper body strength. Never under estimate the student before you. Over the years we have built up a lot of knowledge and techniques which can easily be transferred to the physically sound student but who is very nervous or even frightened about the mask skill. So two things. If a student does it slightly different to the instructor demonstration but has cleared the mask, success. Second, do not reinforce failure. A struggling student just told do it again. do it again, do it again, is going to be defeated. Try a remedial, if that does not work move onto a another skill. When the student succeeds make a fuss of them. Build their confidence and self esteem. Come back to the mask later.

I remember an instructor who was made to look a complete fool by one arm Dan, when the instructor could not perform the mask skill demonstration one handed and Dan helped him recover his mask and refit is. Dan then demonstrated how to do the mask skill one handed. Dan was unusual in that his injury was a through the shoulder amputation. However, at the time I was working with him his professional job was a Chauffeur and he could tie his neck tie one handed. Next time you are bored, try that one. Dan also showed the instructor how to remove and replace his BCD underwater with one arm and wearing a shoulder prosthetic.

So for a bit of fun. Riddle me this. When I was a rookie instructor, I was working in Slough Pool on an Open Water Confined Session. There were a couple of us teaching six students. The student I got was asked to flood and clear his mask. With close control I watched. He was very calm, he cleared his mask completely no problem. However, I was mystified as I could not see bubbles coming from the nose pocket? So, I asked him to repeat the skill. He did just as before, calm and complete clear. Still not knowing how he has done this, I asked him to repeat the skill once again. He immediately signalled up he wanted to chat. We went to the surface. I asked if he was alright. He said, “Yes, but I cannot snort any more water!” Did he meet the standard? Answers on a post card.

Ring, Ring.

Divecrew just loves a challenge. So when the office gets a call, “Can you send a diver to find my ring, lost overboard in the River Thames?” The answer is yes. This beautiful platinum and diamond ring is owned by Lisa. Lisa was unfurling a boat cover, when a giant boat spider crawled over her right hand. She flicked her hand hard to get the spider off. Next almost in slow motion she saw her ring flying through the air. It hit the side of the boat and then plop, into the Thames. She was distraught.

Divecrew currently have a 100% record of finding lost personal belongings, but this was the very first ring. So small. Lost in a silty dock in a marina, about eight feet of water, bottom was silt, blanket weed with a fine layer of silt on the blanket weed. It was not going to easy.

After an initial dive with torches, the visibility was so bad the torches were given up. Visibility was about 6 inches when it was good. As soon as anything moved near the bottom the silt came up.

The underwater metal detector was next. The problem was even laying a search grid down, you could not see the search grid. So the search was conducted by popping to the surface every so often to get a bearing. Underwater, no idea where the diver was in relation to the dock. It was a case of moving just six or so inches and doing a finger tip search.

After a pains taking hour of underwater searching inch by inch, the detector vibrated. Even the bright LED’s could not be seen. A second pass confirmed something was there. Feeling the bottom of the River Thames, it was a lot of blanket weed. However, delving into the blanket weed and a bit of silt, success. The diver could feel a ring.

As soon as it was found the diver popped to the surface to a stunned and very emotional Lisa. Her ring was back.

After tears, it was thanks to the diver and Divecrew maintains its 100% record. As the diver said to ney sayers and Lisa, “Never say, Never!” Divecrew – Different.

Time for Change

Corna has knocked many industries for six, not least scuba diving. We know here and overseas the dive industry is struggling, many dive centres have closed never to reopen. We need to be sensitive to these are not just statistics. These are real family people who have possibly lost the business, income, credit rating, savings and self esteem. Making a living in the dive industry is not easy at the best of times. So the market has just got much smaller. PADI for one have laid off many of their employees. Other suppliers, resorts and centres have either cut or rationalsised staff.

Despite all of this shrinkage, we still have a lot of agencies trying to retain or scoop from an ever increasingly smaller pond. Surely, now is the time to get all the agencie together and start thinking of strategies for the future growth of scuba diving. Continually putting up training materials either erodes margins making dive centres even less proftiable or creates switchers (switcher is going to another agency that has better priced materials). At the end of the day regardless which agency is involved, we produce divers. You can fiddle around with the odd skill, the odd depth the odd standard, but, they are divers. Agencies do not produce divers, dive centes do. Agencies ought to be looking at how to arrest training material costs to enable those centes that are left, to survive.

So what of the independent diving instructor? Here in the UK, what has it meant to them? Well more or less nothing. They have no premises. They have no fixed costs. No training, no problem. Agencies need to start focusing on real bricks and mortar dive centre. Ditto with suppliers and retail. Simply Scuba is a good example.

For someone to under take their open water (regardless of agency), there is a ceiling on price. We would all love for clients to be happy paying £1,000 per course, but that is not reality. Therefore dive centres tend to try and hold the price, but, with ever increasing costs of training materials, van maintenance, compressor maintenance, insurances, team costs, dive site entry fees, staff costs, pool hire fees, etc, it cannot go on forever.

Scuba is a discretionary spend. In the UK, very few instructors are paid full time, it is more of a small bear hobby. You certainly are not going to be paying your mortgage scuba diving.

Will there ever be a time when agencies start thinking long term, start thinking for the benefit of the diver and the industries future? Divecrew are involved in numerous agencies. No one has the complete fix. We cherry pick great techniques and ideas from each. Divecrew is fortunate in that it is owned and run by two ex-corporate business people. Financially strong and with great input on scuba teaching (experienced scuba pros) and business strategies.

Lets hope the dive centres that are left continue to survive. Once this ghastly virus leaves us, we hope those in the industry prosper and get back to normality.

iPhone search

Divecrew is always up for a challenge. Todays challenge find a lost iphone in a lake! Maximum depth of the search area was 2.2 metres. Silt bottom with a weed layer. Visibility was half a metre! Needed a torch despite brilliant sunshine. Lady paddleboarding dropped the phone, fortuately in a water tight clear case. Used a search pattern and eventually found the iphone. One happy lady as it was still working fine.

Divecrew have had some strange challenges. Another iphone at Dorney Lake – Found. Fouled prop on the river Thames – cleared. Checking entry and exit points for open water simming at various locations in Berkshire and London. Found a rolex. Checking out the bottom of a 20 metre well. Repairing plumbing in a large koi carp pond.

If you have a challenge and you would like Divecrew to attend. Call the A Team. 01344 771113

BSAC Fast Track Centre

We may have been locked down but Divecrew have not stopped innovating. The country’s first commercial BSAC Fast Track Centre is Divecrew. Working closely with BSAC, you can complete you Ocean Diver with Divecrew and return to the BSAC fold trained to dive. Divecrew are used to delivering courses through paid instructors. A typical open water student takes three weekends to complete. This includes theory, confined water and open water. So cutting the time does this mean cutting the quality. No. In short we operate small groups of student divers. We operate with senior instructors. Divecrew is the UK’s only Gold Star IDC Centre. Quality is our ethos our mantle our reputation. We do not take it lightly.

To find out more contact Divecrew working in partnership with BSAC.

A Small Business and Corona Virus

So how has the lock down been affecting Divecrew.?

I guess the response to that is pretty much like every other small business.
This is financially the toughest time our business has had in the 7 years we have owned it. In January and February we had a fantastic start to the year, our busiest so far and then Kapow.!! Its like the lights went out. Divecrew doors closed.

After about 24 hours of feeling sorry for ourselves, we decided to take some positive action. We had loads of projects that we had wanted to achieve, but time has always been tricky- so now was the time- no more excuses.
Divecrew revamp, has included:-

Painting some of the shop
Taking up the old carpet that was in a third of the shop and cleaning and staining the floor to match
Painting the classroom, and fixing the floor and door
Put a new roof on the classroom to stop the water dribbling in
Staining all the exterior woodwork
That was just for starters- we are also hoping to paint the container and de rust it, but waiting for the special paint to arrive, and give the outside of the building a lick of paint

Having listened to a few webinars we decided to get more active on our Facebook site – as I am sure many of you have seen.
In times of crisis like this it is important to make sure people still know you are there and ready to open your doors. We want to be ready and waiting and primed for opening- But alas, we are still not sure when that will happen yet and if we can resume training but its important to remain positive, and comment that “If ever there was a time to support your local, small independent businesses, it is NOW and when the doors open again.

I fear some businesses will not make it, so spread the positive news about Divecrew. We are hear and we will come out better and stronger.

Thank you

Part 3: Sarah Richard

Part 2: Cat Cushenan

Part 1: Christine Grosart