DIVEMASTER!

Well hot damn, PADI sure was quick. I think I only posted yesterday (after Eco processed my application on Tuesday) that I was now an official PADI Divemaster. Then today, lo and behold in my mailbox there it was. My official DM card! All black and sexy, reminding everyone that I’m truely a professional diver. I love the sound of that! Professional! Awesome. Just thought I’d share. Now off to go show it to all my triathlon friends at the bar tonight. Ha!

Finals: Passed!

Last Tuesday and Wednesday (April 13 & 14th) we had our final two class sessions for the Divemaster Course. Tuesday class consisted of Physics, probably the hardest subject for me to wrap my mind around because it is so math based. Having not really pursued any math involved activities since my last math class freshman year of college, my skills are a bit rusty. Luckily most of the physics laws in relation to diving really boil down to fairly simple addition, subtraction, multiplication and division. I was struggling a bit with the theories and laws going into class, but after having problems to solve, and Beth walking us through some of the steps it all started to click. That evening we took the Physics test, and I was amazed. I had to guess on one problem (which I guessed wrong) and for some silly reason I filled in a different bubble than what I knew the answer to be on another question thus getting it wrong. Other than that though I got every question right, including all the equation solving questions. I felt really good leaving the shop Tuesday.

Now that all the class sessions were over all that remained were the second round of tests. While it is not necessarily required, the way Eco was running the class was to have us take each subject’s test A after that subject was discussed during class. Then at the end of all the classes we would have 1 evening where we took all 8 tests (the B versions) in one night like a big final exam. Well now we were here, we’d had a month of twice a week classes, each lasting several hours into the night and it all boiled down to Wednesday. As luck typically goes, it also ended up being a crazy busy day at work leaving me rushing home from the valley after 6pm hoping to make it to the shop on time. This meant no last minute review prior to all the test taking. I’d either know it, or I wouldn’t.

So we sat down, chatted for a bit, then got to work. I finished a little over 2 hours later, worried that I had to make educated guesses more than I had hoped, stressed that I bombed the Physiology test (everything seemed different than what we had learned!) but feeling good about most of the others. After everyone had finished the test taking we swapped and began grading. Peeking over at my neighbor grading my test I was pleased to see that I was doing well. All the tests consist of 20 questions, and you have  to earn a C or better in order to pass, therefore you can’t miss more than 5 (75%). After I got the test back and looked over everything I found that the most I missed on any test was 3! While there were a few silly errors that could have earned me a few points but the meat of the information seems to be secured somewhere in my head. Funny enough also, I did the best on the Physiology test, only missing 1! So much for gut feelings.

Now all that is left to tuck this certification under my belt is 3 more confined water intern days and 1 open water intern day (leading certified divers). I’m planning to get in the pool Saturday morning and Saturday afternoon, knocking 2 out, then finishing up the certification the second weekend in May. (weekend 1 is planned for a big fun “Mental Health” dive trip with a bunch of the folks in my DM class and several Eco Instructors out at San Clemente Island).

Stamina and Skills Test

Okay, wow. I have been so busy these last few weeks that I have a small and slowly building list of blog posts to get through! While its not the end of the world, my stats page shows that a few people out there have been checking, sadly in vain, over these few weeks for new posts. Well, now the problem will be rectified! I have a slow day at work, and managed to put down my book to get some writing done! Here goes:

April 10th & 11th: Saturday marked another important day in my Divemaster Training. It was Stamina and Skills day where we had to prove that yes we can swim pretty well and that we know and can demonstrate the 20 basic Scuba skills. Each stamina effort and skill demonstration is graded based on a scale of 1-5 with 5 being the best.

Here’s the Good/Bad list for each:

Stamina:

  • It was a good day for having generally good fitness. I breezed through the 15 minute tread earning a 5 with my hands out  of the water for the last 2 minutes.
  • It was a good day for a swimming background. Even though I had been in the pool 1 time since my November race I knew that I’d be able to reasonable complete the 400yd swim and 800yd snorkel.
  • It was a good day for jumping into DM right after Rescue. All my rescue skills were still fresh in my mind and I did well on the Rescue scenario test. Only problem was when I realized that Shane was not wearing a thick wetsuit, but merely a 2/3mm skin which didn’t give him alot of buoyancy. But I got through it without “killing” him.
  • It was a bad day for not having been in the pool for about 4 months. The times for different grades were much steeper than I had anticipated, with a 5 requiring a 6 minute 400 yd swim. Thats faster than my best time, so I settled for aiming for a 4 (max 8 minutes) which I knew being out of shape would be difficult. I managed to hit the wall just in time earning a 4.
  • It was a bad day for crappy fins. I got a 4 on the snorkel swim as well, but damn was it an effort. I have some pretty old, fairly crappy fins that barely make the “good enough to dive with” limit in my mind. They sure didn’t help me any on the snorkel swim but I got through it.
  • It was a bad day for crappy fins. Wait have I said that already? Well again, poor fins meant that trying to do a 100yd tired diver tow is quite an exhausting effort. Pulling classmate Shane I pretty much felt like I wasn’t even wearing fins. Got a 3..but at this point it was fine, I’d already made the passing grade.

Overall I was happy with the stamina efforts, and how I performed. It did make me realize that its time to get back in the pool though. I’m planning on completing a 4.8 mile ocean swim this October, so I better get back some of that fitness! After the morning Stamina tests I stuck around and got a confined water intern spot checked off by helping Ron with his IDC (instructor devolopment course) student. I got to play student while they worked on demonstrating and teaching the skills required in Open Water certifications to us. Ron gave us things to make sure we did wrong in hopes that the IDC guys would catch and correct our mistakes as any good teacher should.

That afternoon I headed to a different pool for the skills circuit. Again, it was over all successful with some ups and downs throughout.

  • It was a good day for having practiced some of my skills and interned with an Open water class the weekend before. My personal review and the chance at getting to really demonstrate skills for others helped me be prepared to demonstrate the skills for our instructor Beth.
  • It was a good day for ANKLE WEIGHTS. I realized last weekend that my feet are slightly positively buoyant and start to float off the bottom of the pool while trying to do some skills like the fin pivot. So I bought a pair of ankle weights to keep those feet down and they worked like a charm. Not only that, but they worked well for half the class too when I passed them around to others having some difficulty with buoyant feet.
  • It was a bad day for my low pressure inflator hose. One of the skills is being able to disconnect the low pressure inflator underwater in the event that your BCD starts to free fill and you have to stop the air flowing into it. Well, my hose is pretty much brand new, and quite stiff, so I could not get it undone. It wasn’t until Beth swam over and showed me a neat trick (also easily disconnecting the hose in seconds making me feel silly) that I was able to do it. That trick? Push the hose in towards the connector then pull back the quick release and it should pop right off! Amazing.
  • It was a bad day for… well there really wasn’t any other bad stuff. I successfully compleeted all the skills, and only had a few minor issues with some (forgetting one critical attribute on a few, but learning and overall doing well.) I finished off the day feeling pretty good.

Divemaster Class Day 1

Its 11:00pm at night, but I want to write about how I am feeling right now. I wnat this blog/journal to include my path to SCUBA Instructor, so the emotions tumbling around inside me right now are important to share. Tonight we had our first DM class. Three and a half hours later I feel extremely overwhelmed.

I’m worried about getting the base of knowledge secured in my brain… about mastering the 20 basic SCUBA skills when there are some I don’t even remember doing in my Open Water class back in 2003 (fin pivot?! I had to google that when I was reading the manual to know what it was). I’m worried about being outgoing enough to really talk with the strangers on the dive boats and get their stories, or if I’ll be keen enough to be able to spot possible problems or stress in other divers and I’m worried about being a good assistant and properly anticipating the needs of the instructor I’m assisting. I’m worried about having to help and communicate with a student having a problem underwater when we can’t speak. I’m worried about money… I’ve already spent more money this year on gear than I had budgeted. I’ve bought a new wetsuit, computer and BCD, the BCD was not a planned purchase but a necessary one. Now I’m thinking about all the little accessories I need for a good dive kit and first aid kit and spare gear to be able to assist divers, and floats and flags and insurance costs and dive boat costs, and none of that takes into account the things I also want to buy like new fins to replace my crappy old ones and a rashguard for extra warmth or even some day nicer, new regulators in case my uncle decides to dive again and wants his back. I’m worried about finding the time between work, and exercise and friends to be able to complete everything without going bonkers. In short, I’m worried.

But I’ve felt this before. These butterflies in my stomach are not a new experience. I felt them when I decided to go to Durango, CO for my freshman year of college, to a new place where I knew no one. I felt them when I decided to move back to the desert and try the University of Arizona and then switched my major to Media Arts from Biology. I felt them at EVERY new job I’ve had from waitressing to working in the camera store, working on set and working for Run & Gun currently. I felt them on my dive internship when I had to learn to fill tanks and I was afraid that I was going to make one explode somehow, or when I had to stand in front of a crowd of strangers and give the 20 minute Manta Ray talk or when giving the little intro to dive lessons we taught at the Sheraton pool.

My point is, while I feel overwhelmed right now I know it’s okay. I have been here before many times in many different situations.

Most of this will pass, over time the knowledge base will become second nature, I will learn and master the SCUBA skills and underwater demonstration will come back to me…heck, I did it for 5 weeks in Hawaii and was able to get a bunch of kids to successfully clear their masks underwater, remove, replace and clear their regs, and attain some level of buoyancy, etc so I’m sure I can remember how to complete and then master these skills and then I’ll improve until its second nature like it is with the other Instructors at the shop who can’t help but use the hand signals as they explain or demonstrate to us during class, or even out at the bar! I’ll come out of my shell, I always do, and I always end up making good friends I just have to take that first step. I will acquire gear slowly. I know I feel a rush right now that I have to go out and drop thousands of dollars on all this gear, but I don’t. I can’t and I need to be okay with that. I will gather piece by piece as I can, and take the discounts where they come (like buying Laura’s old dive gear bag vs. getting a new one). If that means putting off the new fins and rashguard that I want and dealing with my old (and slightly cracked fins) for a few more months, then thats what it means.

I can do this, because I want to do this. I know that, it’s just that every now and then I need a little reminder, or a chance to sit back and just share my fears and that is what I’m doing now. Just writing out these fears and the facts that I can face and destroy them is comforting and whether or not anyone ever reads this I know its out there, I was honest with myself and that I will succeed.