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.