Week 1: Scuba training

July 17, 2010

I’ve got two, five-picture frames hanging on the wall that leads into my kitchen. Each one has  a picture of our family at the same place on the same lake we go to every July. So I’ve got ten years of tradition which is a continual source of comments. “Look how much we looked alike at the same age.” “Look at that hair.” “That was the year it rained a lot”, “Ha! you have the same shirt on two years in a row,” etc. I’m sure every family has something like that.

This year we broke tradition and didn’t go to the lake house. It was a hard decision. There were several reasons which I won’t bore you with.

We decided to do something different this year so we’re off to the Cayman Islands next month, the place where my husband and I honeymooned twenty years ago. When we were there we did a lot of scuba diving. I remember becoming PADI certified before our honeymoon by doing confined dives in a pool, attending classroom training, and then doing open water dives. Not training at the resort but the cold lake water of New York State.

Since then, I can’t recall the last certification course I took. It might have been that one.

I thought after twenty years I’d need to be re-certified but that’s not the case. Since scuba diving is a dangerous sport if you don’t know what you’re doing, I’m going through refresher training. I don’t want the stories associated with my picture as, “remember when Mom jumped into the ocean from the back of the boat with lead weights and didn’t remember how to control buoyancy and sunk to the bottom of the ocean? That sucked.”

My kids are in the process of becoming certified so I’m tagging along. I thought it’d be cool to document our family training activities.

Week 1: My 11 yr-old studied the first two chapters of his five-chapter text diligently and completed the review questions. He used a highlighter and wrote a lot in the margins. He was so excited to share what he was learning – hand signals, etc.

My 14 year-old took the e-learning version and completed assessments. She kept a notepad and wrote down a lot of stuff about safety…exploding lungs and stuff. She’s very safety conscious.

My 16-year old is away at camp so has taken his text. He’s already been in a pool with  scuba gear as a boy scout so it was decided he can miss the first pool session and get up-to-speed the following week at the next pool session.

I’m not allowed in the pool the first week because there’s all newbies in the class and the instructors don’t need any extra work. I’ll be allowed in the pool the second week.

So, I was sitting watching the first part of the pool session (it’s 3-hours long) and they have to first swim eight laps of the pool and tread water for 15 minutes without any equipment. My husband looks at me and I know what he’s thinking. He’s wondering if I can do that today. Swimming for me today is jumping into the pool and then jumping into the floating chair with a beverage. I’ll have to try the swimming test on my own at my community pool before the next pool session. Some of the newbies are moving pretty slow, floating on their backs so I should be OK. As long as I don’t have to do a full out crawl next to Michael Phelps I should be OK.

They go over equipment in detail at the first pool session. It comes as no surprise that the equipment has changed in the past twenty years. I will now use a dive computer  to manage things like decompression status, ascent rates, etc. instead of tracking it manually. My 11-year old is planning to be my equipment instructor next week when I get in the pool. He’s taking that very seriously drawing me diagrams and watching a video with me. I start my e-learning today…we’ll see how it goes. I’m really kind of nervous about the first pool session.

My observation of what’s changed for me since 1989:

  • Computers have replaced analog devices for scuba.
  • There are now e-learning courses to replace classroom courses making the certification process more flexible.
  • I lost my PADI certification card so ordered a new one online, uploading a new picture. It arrived in 5 days. I could’ve also printed a temporary care from the PADI site if I needed it immediately.
  • Questions I had about the health form I researched online and even posted some questions in an online forum.
  • An automated status update on Facebook via TripIt mentioning the trip to the Cayman Islands resulted in ten comments, three from friends who went there. My connections will know when I takeoff and land (if they want to) and if I enter my flight details.  And  that means…
  • Burglars will know that I’m not home (but they won’t know that I hired Chuck Norris to house sit).
  • I started following some dive shops on Twitter in the event there’s a Twitter deal.
  • I’m monitoring, via RSS, hurricane updates.
  • I booked the condo I’m staying at online after doing some comparative shopping including reviewing the comments from people who spent time there.
  • I used my credit card rewards program to get two free plan tickets – all done online.
  • I’m following a couple of dive blogs to find some of the better places to dive.

Big changes and interesting to think about what will change in the next 20 years.

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