„I would love to get my PADI!“
Did you ever think about getting your PADI Open Water Diver certification or go scuba diving in general? It is great to learn how to scuba dive! The feeling of being weightless, moving easily through the water is just amazing.As great and wonderful as it is. I’m surprised how little people inform themselfes about scuba diving before they sign up for their Open Water course. I am not even talking about pressure principles. More about the fact that one should be healthy and able to swim when planing to become a scuba diver.
That´s why I would like to explain how a PADI Open Water course is structured.
Its based on three parts, theory, confined water and open water dives.
But before you sign up (or the most of the time after you signed up), you need to have a look in the paperwork. Yes of course, like always when an Adventure is packed with fun, there is heaps of paperwork involved.
Before signing up for a PADI Open Water course you should have a look at the medical statement. Since there are certain conditions that can’t be combined with diving it is important. If you answer any question in the statement with yes you have to get yourself checked from a diving physician. This is important for your safety. That´s why we always recommend to at least read through the medical statement already at home, so you can avoid any issues. In western countries there are proper dive physicians available where you can get a specific checkup for recreational diving.
Have a look on the pdf file below to see what kind of questions there are. Please, answer these questions honestly.
On a side note: For your sake and for the sake of your family and your fellow divers, be honest with yourself and your physician. Remember, we always have a choice, but it is the consequences of your decision that may shape the lives and destinies of those around you.
PDF Download link: PADI Medical Statement (ENG/2.01)
Like it is with all adventure sports there are some risks involved and that´s why you need to READ and sign a liability release, so that you are informed about the risks.
PDF Download link: PADI Non Agency and Liability Release
Standard safe diving practices statement of understanding
It lists 10 points you have to follow to be a safe and responsible diver. It might not make a lot of sense in the beginning when you just start diving but during the course you will learn all you need to know to be a safe diver.
PDF Download link: PADI Standard Safe diving
Other than those three you will have to fill in a student record file with your details and an emergency contact. If you need the forms above in any other language your dive center can easily provide them for you. So make sure you actually get them in your language so you know what you sign for.
The theory part
The theory part consists of 5 modules. Each module has a video and a chapter in the Open Water manual. For each module you have to complete a knowledge review. After that you will go through all the knowledge reviews with your Instructor. To double check that you remember everything important now, there are 4 quizzes. After Chapter 5 we believe in you and its time to finish a 50 question Exam. If you paid attention its not difficult at all.
Depending on your own preferences there are two ways to complete the theory part, study when you arrive at the dive center, with this option, you benefit from the personal attention of a PADI Instructor. If you don’t want to study in your holidays it is possible to do all the theory beforehand at home using the PADI e-learning program and then just finishing the in water portion of the course with your Instructor at the dive center or resort of your choice.
The in water portion of the Open Water Diver Course
Since it is called the in water part and you want to become a diver you will get wet, you will spend a lot of time in the water and you will need to learn skills that help you being safe and a comfortable diver. It consists of training in confined open water or a pool where you will learn many important skills and of 4 dives in open water. What can you expect of this part of the Open Water Diver course….
A swim and float test
Yes, you need to be able to swim if you want to become a scuba diver. It’s either 200m any style with no time limit or 300m with mask, snorkel and fins again with no time limit but in both cases you need to be able to swim continuously, so no breaks to rest. During the float test you have to keep yourself on the surface for 10 minutes floating or treading water. Both is really important since you need to be able to hold yourself on the surface if your BCD can’t hold air or lets imagine you fall off the boat…
So if you can’t swim you should consider swimming lessons before you sign up for a Open Water Diver course.
On a side note: if you can't swim or don't know if you feel comfortable underwater you could start by booking a Discover Scuba Diving experience.
During this experience you have a little theory with just the basics of scuba diving, a small session in the pool or confined water and then you can go with your instructor on a dive to maximum 12m. It does not give you a certification it's just an experience to see if you feel comfortable underwater and if you enjoyed this you might want to sign up for the Open Water Diver course afterwards.
What will you learn in the confined water part?
The confined part is where you learn how your equipment is prepared, how it works and how to take care of it, of course as well many skills in the water a diver needs. It consists of 5 modules that build up on each other it goes from simple to more complex skills underwater and on the surface. Once you learned how to set up your equipment you get in the water and in to your equipment. After the buddy check and learning how to use the inflator and deflator button of your BCD (Buoyancy Control Device) it is time for some breathing underwater. Once comfortable you will move on to more skills like regulator clearing and recovery, mask clearing and underwater swimming. But don’t worry, each skill will be explained and presented to you by your instructor and if you don’t feel comfortable with a skill just keep on practicing until you get it, not everyone learns at the same speed and if you need some more practice with a skill or feel not comfortable let your Instructor know.
In the Open Water
Now this is exciting, that´s what this whole course is about, submerging in the Ocean (or depending on where you do the course a lake) watching fish and beautiful corals, moving around weightless. I love this part of the course because I can finally show my students why I love what I am doing. In the Open Water part of the course you will go on 4 dives, the first two to a maximum of 12m depth and on dive 3 and 4 to a maximum of 18m. This is done in 2 days or more. Since this is a course and you get certified to dive with a buddy to a maximum of 18m the open water part is not just about watching fish. There are still skills you have to do. No new skills just a repetition of some you learned and mastered already in the confined session before. It should not be a problem for you to repeat them in the open water. Don’t worry, there will still be enough time to enjoy the underwater world and practicing your buoyancy and swimming skills.
This sounds like a lot but usually a Open Water Diver course takes 3-4 days. The schedule could look like this:
Arriving at the dive center, filling in some paperwork and receiving your theory material, watching PADI videos. (if you did not do it by e-learning already!).
Meet your instructor, start with theory chapters 1-3 including quizzes, swim and float test, starting confined and in-between there will be a lunch break and some small breaks.
Finish confined in the morning, lunch break, go on the boat for dives one and two.
Finish theory chapter four, five and the final exam, go on the boat for dives three and four.
Yea, after this you did it and you are a certified Open Water Diver 😀 ready to explore the beautiful underwater world with your buddy.
This is just an example it can look different depending on where you do your course and how they schedule it.
A final word:
I hope this post helped some people planning and deciding if the PADI Open Water Diver course is the right thing. Now you know what to expect when you sign up for it.