So you've got your open water certification, now what?
Hi friends and readers! I'm back! It's been awhile since I lasted posted. My diving adventures have been limited since we have been having some eh hem....adverse conditions here in Sarasota, FL. Plus I have been distracted by a new family business adventure (shameless self promotion, check out www.sarasotaboatingadventures.com). My apologies :)
Today I wanted to write about what to do once you've earned your Open Water Scuba certification (OW). So often I see people work their tail feathers off to earn there OW certification and then never see them again. Honestly, it makes me so sad :(. Ok, put this in your memory bank right now. The most important thing you can do after you get your OW certification is to.......drum roll please............KEEP DIVING! I know, I know, you've heard me say this 1,000 times. And I will keep saying it 1,000 more. However, a lot of students fresh out of their OW course don't know how to do this and I'm going to help you with that.
Here are some helpful tips to help you keep diving:
1) Contact your local dive shop. If you want opportunities to dive but, are at a loss all it takes is a simple phone call to your local dive shop. Trust me on this one. Dive shops are thrilled to help provide divers with opportunities to get in the water. Be it a monthly local event, dive trip, or even just a day trip, your dive shop should be happy to help you find some way to keep you diving. And if they don't, find a different dive shop.
The dive shop I work with, Florida Underwater Sports, is always happy to help divers find opportunities to dive. Feel free to give a shout out to your local dive shop in the comments section!
Don't know where your local dive shop is? If you are a PADI diver then all you need to do is go to the PADI dive shop locator website and look it up!
2) Social media. Facebook, Twitter, and even Instagram groups and pages are a great resource for finding a dive buddy, getting together with like minded people and exploring new areas. Here are a few groups I've found helpful:
Girls that Scuba; https://www.facebook.com/groups/girlsthatscuba/
Scuba Diving; https://www.facebook.com/groups/304179562968172/
I'm sure there are others out there and if you know of any, please message me! I'm always on the lookout for ways to keep divers connected.
3) Contact fellow students from your class (assuming you have permissions to do so). Chances are if you are looking for a chance to dive, they are too!
4) Local dive clubs. You may have to do a little digging for this one but, again, your local dive shop should have info. on what dive clubs are available in your area. Clubs are great because you are usually in a group setting so there are opportunities to meet all sorts of new people and dive buddies. They also tend to meet pretty regularly to keep people diving.
Here's another great option for you. Keep learning! Diving is a sport that offers a wide variety of interests. You may be interested in diving wrecks, caverns, learning more about ecosystems or identifying fish. You may want to find ways to profit off your dive skills or may want to learn how to be that awesome diver that always finds their way back to the boat (hello fellow navigators). There are a host of interests to explore when it comes to diving.
For example, let's say you know that you will be diving wrecks and diving deep, Specialty classes give you an opportunity to really develop skills allowing you to do so, safely. So, if you know you have an area of interest, explore it! There are many, many specialty classes designed to teach you the skills to really enjoy your area of interest and be confident while diving these interests. Not to mention, these classes teach you skills that will carry over to other dives and make you an awesome dive buddy too.
Here is a list of just a few available specialties courses:
Search and Recovery Diver
Project AWARE specialist
Peak Performance Buoyancy (a must in my opinion)
Digital Underwater Photographer
Enriched Air Diver
Coral Reef Conservation
Emergency Oxygen Provider
Dry Suit Diver
Diver Propulsion Vehicle
Pubic Safety Diver
And then of course there are unique distinctive specialties that vary by location and Instructor too numerous to mention (think Yoga diving or Zen Diving for example). And for all of those wondering, yes someone has put together a PADI Zombie Apocalypse Diver certification. I know that was the number one question on your mind.
Now let's say you're not sure what your interests are yet or you want to learn a broader range of topics. The Advanced Open Water (AOW) course let's you dabble in your interests and genuinely makes you a better diver. Let's face it, OW class teaches you how to survive underwater but, that's about it. It's an amazing and intense class that is an entry point for many people. But, it's limited in exploring interests. Where the OW course makes you a diver, the AOW course makes you a better diver and buddy and helps you gain confidence and understanding of diving. I generally recommend this right after my students OW course.
Following the AOW course I HIGHLY recommend the Rescue Diver course. This course is designed to train students how to act and react in the event of a dive related medical emergency. Realistically, you never know when an emergency can happen and being prepared for emergencies is the best way handle said emergencies. Also, this course is typically offered in conjunction with Emergency First Response/CPR and Emergency Oxygen Provider. So, not only will you be prepared for dive emergencies, you will be prepared for every day emergencies. It makes you a better buddy and ups the confidence quota.
Hopefully you're picking up what I'm putting down. There are a TON of options for what to do after your OW course certification. The most important message being, keep diving and keep learning! And if you have questions about what to do next, just ask your instructor!!
Happy diving friends!