Train hard, dive easy

Train hard, dive easy

‘Slow is smooth, smooth is fast.’

This Navy seal mantra echoes in resolve, it permeates itself in both fields where deep parallels can be drawn between two closely alike worlds- the world of technical diving and military diving.

A close friend of mine always said, “Train hard dive easy!” So cheers Chris Hailey!

Here I will delve into my ten-day journey where I was transformed and moulded into a technical diver. It will cover my reflections and thoughts, the ups the downs, and of course, the diving! I cannot forget that… Can I? After all, this is a technical diving blog.

The path starts in tropical India, I found myself teaching in Goa. I know this poses questions like ‘Why Goa?’, ‘Why India?’ In truthfulness, it was merely because I hadn’t heard of anyone going there, let alone any one in my wider diving network having taught there, so just like the reason for those who technical dive “I wanted to go where nobody had been before”.

Another stimulating factor that took me to Goa was technical diving courses being run at Scuba Evolution India. The course drew my attention because according to my knowledge, it was the first such course being offered in the West Coast of India.

My course started at the beginning of March, and the instructor, JulienFontin, whom I had talked to, weeks before starting, had me intimidated. I was intimidated by his sheer experience in so many technical areas and the boundless knowledge he displayed during our late night debates. What breathed life into beasts known to the TEC diver such as equipment and procedures, decompression algorithms, ideologies, and just about everything you could imagine; I knew what I was in for. And the very thought of the next ten days frightened me even more so than Julien himself.

In the next ten days, the onslaught that was my training followed the crawl, walk, run method- I learnt a skill, practiced it till I was proficient and went on real dives where the skills were thrown at me a lightning speed so that I did not just learn the procedure but it was slowly burning into my muscle memory. I was prepared to an extent that if a problem ever arose, my hand would react faster than my brain.

I was putting in considerable time practicing the s-drill and the out of the gas drill. It was followed by a plethora of problems thrown at me as my instructor went beyond the general practices to ensure that I learned the skills of a true technical diver and I can’t thank him enough for this.

Julien often said that he wouldn’t pass his students if he didn’t go with them on serious team dives and he often had sky-high expectations from us, so did I. I am too hard on myself-this is what was told to me during a debrief on the tenth day when I finally became a PADI Tec Deep Diver. However, it was the pursuit and struggle for this perfection that drove me harder towards my goal.

Reviewing the course, it was well rounded and has definitely been shaped and improved over the years. I believe that there is always some scope for refinement and a course can always get better; I hope that someday, as a Technical Instructor Trainer, I can play my part in it.

The journey to tec diving is arduous and I can say that I will never stop learning, to grow, and to get better as experience is the key here. I learned so much, some things more important in my opinion than others, which includes the “technical” mind-set, equipment streamlining and standardization which is the key to efficient procedures and unified team diving. Having the right tool for the job, and a common set of tools among your team, which allows you to do more complex dives, in a safer and more enjoyable manner is also vital.

I embarked on a journey full of terribly long nights, early mornings; days of diving, countless classroom hours, and talks related to theoretical technical diving over a beer or two and I must say- I made it out alive and well. One last thing that every diver should remember- seek to be a perpetual student, especially technical divers as we are always on borrowed time.

Finally and importantly, I would like to thank my boss, Commander Skandan Warrier, incredibly talented instructor Julien Fortin, Chris Hailey, my inspiration behind this journey and all my colleagues at Scuba Evolution India.

Ryan Hooper

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