The details below are here to give you some guidance to the process and journey ahead that you are about to embark upon and where it can and may take you. The breakdown of the courses and elements you may want to pursue yourself in the months and years ahead. And how as a club we will share with you our knowledge, our support and our love for the sport of diving, the adventures and trips will all become your memories as it is with us and as we guide you through the escalating grades of diving.
As a volunteer organisation, everyone offers their time free of charge, giving back to the sport we all love. This keeps the training costs to an absolute minimum. Within the club, all training that we can do in house is included in the monthly costs, and there are no hidden extras. The only additional extras you will incur are for courses we bring in from the regional instructors we work with, however these are kept to a minimal cost, insuring you as a member are advantaged by the resource we can offer.
As an example, divers progressing through their training may want to take more adventurous or difficult courses such as Nitrox courses or Boat Handling, Rescue Diver, Radio Handler and even instructor levelled courses enabling you to give back should you so wish.
These will incur an additional cost, but it's still non-profit based and is only enough to cover the expenses of the regional instructors that may have to travel to facilitate these courses.
What you also receive is a training log/plan at each level showing you all the elements you need to complete, all the lectures you need to attend. This in turn allows you to keep these as a record of your achievements along the way and will also be used as a planning document with the diving officer, training officer and the instructor team so we all know where you are, what you need to do, and who will be instructing you.
Below are some further details around the courses offered within the club, Full details are available on request from the, Diving Officer within the club who will help you along your journey of training at every step.
The First Step
Pool training begins as soon as you join the club. There is a short fitness test that a new student diver will need to complete prior to this, It's currently 8 lengths of the pool (200m), followed by retrieving an object from the bottom three times, and finally treading water for 3 minutes.
As soon as the fitness test has been passed, we move straight on to the training. This often happens in the same pool session as the test if we have the time remaining. Over the course of a number of weeks you will learn to clear water from inside your mask, take the regulator out of your mouth, learn about your buoyancy and how this will affect your diving, and even recover an unconscious diver. There are a number of other skills also, each being designed to make you more familiar and comfortable with your equipment before you use it fully in open water.
As you complete your pool training, you will also be attending a series of lectures designed to help you understand the physics, biology and practical matters around diving. there is certainly no reason anybody should worry about them. These lectures actually form the basis for your first qualification, Elementary Diver.
Elementary Diver is the first qualification you'll be aiming towards after joining the club. It's a big milestone and will be well earned. As you run through the pool training, you'll also be attending the Elementary Diver lectures. There are 10 of them but some are quite short. Calne Divers instructors are very relaxed about when you can attend the lectures, and missing some isn't an issue, as we all have busy lives and things do get in the way, If you're training with other divers then we will just come back and do them again another day, If you're training alone then we will just pick up where we left off next time you're available. Lectures can be done Mondays 8-9pm at the pool or on Thursdays, 8.30-9.30pm at the Talbot. Additionally, if time is short and you might miss an open water dive, instructors have regularly visited homes to do the final lectures, and would also welcome you to theirs, remember it’s the volunteers giving up their own time for no gain other than to see you succeed at each level and you will get the most dedicated encouraging support you can. People giving their time is what makes the club such a success and we hope you’ll enjoy becoming part of this extended family and may even want to give a little back.
Elementary Diver For your Elementary Diver qualification, you get to enter the water for the first time. One dive is required, but you will probably do 2 on the day and a demonstration of some simple skills that you will have learned in the pool. The atmosphere is very different, often darker, colder and wearing more in the way of insulation, whether it be a wetsuit or drysuit, either way your first open water experience will leave you feeling excited, nervous and certainly don’t be surprised if when you get home you sleep incredibly well, as many new divers will feel exhausted just from the exhilaration of their first open water adventure, but be assured you will remember this day for a very long time to come!
Once you’ve qualified as an Elementary Diver, you will be qualified to attend most open water dives, whether this is in a quarry or out at sea. There will obviously be limitation to the depth of dive you can do but as with all things it’s a journey you are on, as with everything you learn to walk before you can run but you will be catered for as we do with everyone in the club and whether we dive to 50m or 10m the factor we all take from it is, we are diving enjoying the wildlife or the wreck or simply the freedom of being weightless underwater in another world.
Limitations: - Whilst training to attain the level of Elementary Diver your depth limit is 10m, you can only to dive in open water with an Open Water Instructor or above on a one to one basis.
Post Training: - Your limitation to depth is still 10m but you are now allowed to dive with a dive leader or above and an Open water Instructor.
Open Water Diver To obtain this qualification level you will need a further 9 lectures and 4 dives, this is still under the guidance of an open water instructor, if you’re training with a dive leader or if you are just going for a little bimble (a term you will become familiar with within the diving fraternity) to gain more experience we will build upon your confidence and experience to attain this standard. You will need to demonstrate further skills during your dives when under instruction, which you plan and discuss with your instructor and also gain further experience of different dive sites, this is all about you getting to grips with different aspects of dives and dive locations and conditions, and you will become more comfortable as you progress.
Limitations: - Whilst training to attain the level of Open Water Diver your depth Limit is 20m, and only with an Open Water Instructor or above whilst training.
Post training: - You are now allowed to dive with a Dive Leader or above and an Open water Instructor as a buddy pairing and your depth limit remains at 20m.
Club Diver Only 5 more lectures and 10 more dives gain you the title of a Club Diver. If you don't want any additional training, this is the point at which you can comfortably stop training and continue at this grade. You can now dive with other divers of the same grade or above, and your depth will have increased to 35m which is a depth that would cover most UK dive sites available to the recreational diver.
By this point in your training you will be far more comfortable with the routines of diving, and will be at a stage where you are confident in your ability to rescue a diver, look after yourself if you have issues that need dealing with and even start to plan and execute your very own dive trips with the approval of the clubs Diving officer, and generally just enjoy the diving gaining more ever important skills as you go.
Limitations: - Whilst Training to attain the level of Club Diver your Depth Limit is now 35m and only with an Open Water Instructor or above, at this level the Open Water Instructor is now allowed to take 2 club Divers under instruction at the same time.
Post training: - You are now able to dive with another Club Diver and above but your limit remains at 35m, and as an addition we have a rule in our club that anyone diving to 35m or deeper will need to carry a pony cylinder 3ltrs minimum, just for that extra safety factor, this ruling is more for UK waters than abroad.
At this point we as a club believe it's important to now go and get some experience and learn more about your diving your capabilities before being invited by the club instructors and more so the Diving Officer to move to the next level, which is the Dive Leader status and as a prerequisite to this we urge all to take the Diver Rescue course, this is an important element we feel you need to have before taking on the role of a dive leader to its fullest.
Dive Leader If you don't want to stop your training, then it's time to move on to becoming a Dive Leader. 4 More lectures and 15 more open water dives are required with 8 needing to be deeper than 25m, but at this stage the training moves onto how to lead the dives. Up until now, you will probably have followed around a more experienced diver on each dive, that's got huge advantages, in that you can enjoy the dive, see the sights and be confident in the knowledge that you'll surface at the correct time, in the right place, and with the right amount of remaining gas.
As a Dive Leader though, all of this becomes your responsibility! Not only will you need to ensure the same thing happens with the person or persons you are leading but the training here concentrates on your ability to bring divers with problems to the surface should this ever be the case and luckily this is a rare occurrence but your training has now got you to a level where you are able to control, manage and assist where or when ever required. You will learn how to lead a dive in general, which is a nerve-wracking experience certainly when you take your first junior diver in and realise that you're not entirely certain where you are!
This really is where you start to take on the mantle of responsibility, not just for yourself and your buddy but for all those on the dive. Your ability to be focused on the whole dive, watchful of everyone under your guidance assessing any risks and ready to take action to ensure a safe dive now becomes paramount to everyone’s safety, getting everyone back to the surface in a safe and timely fashion, and as I’ve mentioned above this level of qualification should never be taken lightly but it is also filled with great satisfaction that you are now starting to give a little back to the sport you love and enjoy.
Leading a group of divers, you now become the focal point for them to look up to for guidance, assurance, confidence, leadership, and most of all as a mentor, the way you dive will rub off on those you lead, but if your training, up until this point has taught you anything it will be that we do have a lot of fun, but not at the cost of safety, which is and will always be the paramount factor we all dive within.
Limitations: - Whilst Training to attain the level of Dive Leader your instruction will only be done with an Open Water Instructor or above, your depth limit is now at a maximum for us as recreational diving of 50m, this is also true of any further levels of diver status you wish take on.
Post training: - you are now eligible to dive with any level below you and of course any level above. As with the club diver status any diving to 35m and below we advocate within our club that a pony cylinder is used and that again any three person group diving should be considered carefully and approved by the DO and that your level of diver status now brings with it your responsibility to those that you dive with, and also elevates to those you Lead.
Dive Supervisor Finally, this is the last in-house training course we are able to undertake, and you may be at the point where you are writing articles like this, you've now reached that point at which you are one of the senior dive members of the club, comfortable in leading dives, taking in new divers and often even manage to finish the dive in the right place, which is an art in itself, So what’s next?
A lot more dives, 25 to be precise and a lot more experience in a variety of dive sites will bring you the natural point when you are not only comfortable leading another diver around, but you're also ready to lead entire dive trips or organise holiday trips to such places as Malta or Egypt on a “liveaboard”, or simply a day’s trip to Lundy to dive with the seals. This section of the training revolves around what it takes to bring the club to a site, have everything you need, and to organise the entire day's activities.
Risk assessments, logging of activities and even making sure the right people are on the boat at the right time comes down to you. It might sound like a challenge, but getting to this point will provide you with a great deal of experience, and you will be more than ready for it.
Does the journey end here? No there is more, you can escalate even further.
National Diver This is the only diver grade not to be assessed within the club. Indeed it's so difficult that there are very few in the country. This qualification pushes you to the greatest heights within our sport.
A national written exam tests you on everything you've learned up until now, as well as a fair amount more. Your knowledge is expected to be second to none, and your experience even greater.
For this grade, you not only learn how to organise a large number of divers for a day’s diving, but also how to organise them into a multi-day expedition with the purpose of undertaking significant underwater tasks, this all comes down to planning and executing such tasks all within the guide lines set down by the Sub Aqua Association.
What else can I do?
Now stepping back a little from the graded levels of diver you can obtain, there is the element of actually becoming an instructor yourself, and where and how does this take place I hear you ask.
Club Instructor As you gain more experience and progress up the diving grades, one step to the side from being a diver is that of being an instructor, unlike some organisations, this runs alongside the diver grades and not after it. For instance once you get to Dive Leader, you can become an instructor. You don't need to progress to Dive Supervisor unless you want to.
Club Instructors are able to take people in the pool for their initial training, and also give lectures up to (and including) the grade of diver they are at personally. However, once a student progresses to open water, then they will need to be passed on to an Open Water Instructor, for the open water aspects of their training as the club Instructor is only able to instruct within the pool environment.
In order to become a club instructor, you have to attend a national course usually 2 days at a location hopefully not too far way, that’s run by the regional instructor team and be assessed by a regional instructor. This course is not about diving though, it's about teaching. It's still a good experience, and of course there's still a dive involved even if it is in a pool!
Open Water Instructor Or OWI's as they are better known are the backbone of any club within the SAA. These are the people every new diver will have to have their first outside dive with, and they probably even trained you in the pool before that. They give up their time freely and even their money to come with you to the training sites we use and generally love every minute, this really is where you start to give back to the sport in the biggest possible way, because without these people no club can evolve with new members and grow, and it is with this in mind the commitment of time from doing this really does benefit the Organisation of the SAA and probably more importantly the existence of any club comes down to these guys and their willingness to give back, so personally if you think you can, I will encourage anyone to do so, as the rewards of seeing new divers evolve is one of the greatest satisfactions you can get as a diver and instructor.
One final open water assessment by a regional instructor is needed for this, they will watch you and asses you lead a dive and watch and assess you teach a particular skill. After that, you'll suddenly realise just how much effort your instructors have put in to train you, and now it's your turn to return the favour, you are now entrusted with the ability to bring new divers through the training programmes and you will gain the utmost respect from those you teach as well as having a lot of fun along the way.
Is that it? No.
Life beyond a club then reaches into the realms of such areas as Regional Instructor where you support a region of clubs with courses and training or even to the final level of national instructor where upon you actually put in place a piece of work or research or even a course the whole country of clubs could use, so this really is the point at which you have taken your sport/hobby to the highest level you can.
But for the majority of us life within a club is as far as we will go with additional courses to persue such as
O2 EDFA emergency diver first aid
RYA2 boat handler
Chart and navigation
Self-reliant diver course
Then you have the interests of what kind of diving you prefer
Scenery diving with wild life of fish and crustaceans and the various animals within our waters
Dives for food, ie: scalloping, lobsters, crabs, dives with seals and anything else you fancy even a bit of mackerelling between hard boat dives has been known, but the one common factor is the open water world we enjoy and explore.
I do hope I’ve been able to give you a real in depth taste of what does await you in the world of diving, and hope you will enjoy your journey with us along the way with many amazing trips adventures and fun days out that await you.
From myself the committee, the instructors and the members of Calne Divers we hope to dive with you soon and hope you enjoy your journey into the world of diving as much as we.