What is scuba?
Scuba stands for Self Contained Underwater Breathing Apparatus. It describes the equipment we use to stay underwater and breathe. These include the compressed air cylinder (aka tank), which attaches to a jacket (commonly called a BCD – Buoyancy Control Device) worn by the diver and regulators (the device that we put into our mouths to breathe from). In addition to the actual breathing and buoyancy devices we use, divers also use a mask in order to see underwater, fins, and a snorkel (for use at the surface).
What is PADI?
PADI is an acronym that stands for the Professional Association of Diving Instructors. It is the largest recreational diving certification organizations in the world and is recognized by the vast majority of diving centres, resorts and outfits globally. Certification by a PADI registered diving instructor means that you have been taught using a finely tuned and safety-oriented method of scuba diving instruction. PADI certification cards are recognized globally.
Both of the Toronto Scuba Centre’s instructors, Peter Mikhail and Chris Williams are PADI diving instructors and are also Master Scuba Diver Trainers, meaning that beyond being able to teach the Open Water course, the Advanced Open Water course, the Rescue Diver course and the Divemaster course, they can also teach a number of Specialties (that is unique diving skills that require additional instruction).
Can anyone do scuba or are there any medical restrictions?
Almost everybody can scuba dive! All students and divers must regularly complete an industry-standard medical questionnaire in order to ensure their safety in the water. If you’re in reasonably good health and answer ‘no’ to all the questions listed on the medical questionnaire (and meet any other course prerequisites), you’re good to dive! If you answer ‘yes’ to any of the medical questions then you simply need to visit your physician. If your physician does not think the issue you answered “yes” to is a barrier to diving, they can sign a form advising us that you are able to dive. It’s as easy as that.
The other great thing about scuba is that many skills and techniques can be adapted based on students’ physical needs or limitations.
Do I have to be a good swimmer?
We always get asked this question. Basic swimming skills and comfort in the water are required for all scuba courses. In the introductory PADI Open Water course, you will need to complete a 200 metre swim without mask, fins and snorkel (with no time limit) and tread water (keep yourself afloat at the surface) for 10 minutes. If you wish to use mask, fins and snorkel, you can, but the length of the swim test is increased to 400 metres.
If you feel this will be a challenge, we recommend practicing these skills on your own, at a public pool, before your course. You may even consider swimming lessons. Students who cannot complete the swimming skills at the time of their scuba course will not be permitted to continue for safety reasons and will be asked to return when they’ve improved their skills. Rescheduling fees may apply.
Are there any health benefits to scuba?
While it is a good idea to maintain a moderate level of fitness to enhance your scuba diving experiences, the sport is in and of itself an excellent means of fitness. Diving at depth makes our bodies work a little harder than when we are at the surface, but once we achieve neutral buoyancy, swimming underwater seems effortless. So you get the best of both worlds, a bit of a workout that doesn’t feel like a workout at all.
How old do I have to be to scuba dive?
10 years old! Can you believe it? Children are fantastic at just about anything new and this is why they can start this young. Of course there are slight restrictions on supervision and maximum depth, but basically, there is nothing to stop you from venturing into the blue. There is also no upper age limit to this fantastic sport. Our instructors have trained divers who have been nearly 80 years old, just going to show that you’re only as young as you feel!
The equipment looks heavy, what if I have bad knees or a bad back?
The beauty of Scuba is that in the water you are weightless. It’s like being an astronaut. If you’re concerned with the weight of the gear out of the water, no problem, we’ll teach you how to put it on in the water before you dive and then take it off in the water when you finish.
How big are the classes?
No matter where you train, PADI sets standards for student-to-instructor ratios to ensure safety and enjoyment. Courses at Toronto Scuba Centre are very popular, and while we may get large classroom sizes, we break into smaller groups in the pool, each with an experienced instructor.
During pool training, PADI allows up to 10 students per instructor (or a few more if a certified Divemaster is assisting). But at TSC we believe that better training comes from having smaller groups. Accordingly, we try to limit our numbers to 8 students per instructor for our pool sessions (and often less). This is a really nice number to work with and guarantees quality time for each student.
If you would prefer to guarantee a smaller group, we do offer private training sessions in both the pool and open water. There are additional fees associated with this, but we are happy to accommodate.
Where are your classes?
We teach at various locations, to best suit our course needs.
Classroom sessions happen in our dedicated classroom at our retail location in Leslieville (1175 Queen St E.).
Our pool training happens only 1km from our shop, in the spacious pool at Jimmie Simpson Recreation Centre (870 Queen St E.). During our pool training, only TSC has access to the pool, ensuring an optimal teaching environment.
Open water dives happen at various locations, depending on the course. Learn more about our various dive locations here.
We also occasionally run select courses on our international dive trips, including the PADI Open Water certification dives and the PADI Advanced Open Water course. Please visit our travel page and contact us directly to find what options may be available on specific trips.
Do I need to bring a friend or can I do this on my own?
Not everyone has an interest in scuba diving and sometimes friends already have their certification, so yes, you can take the course on your own. We will always put you with another student or Instructor who will act as your buddy during your training.
What equipment and materials do I need to take a course?
Let’s start by pointing out that our course prices always include the materials you need to complete the course.
With regards to equipment, well, that depends. For the Open Water course, you generally don’t need any of your own equipment, we will supply it all, from the buoyancy control device (known as a BCD) and the regulators. We also provide the mask, fins and snorkel for the pool training.
Beyond the Open Water course, however, the provision of equipment becomes a little more complicated. Many divers start to buy their own equipment at this point, so if you already own your own equipment, that’s fine as well, please bring it along and use it. After the Open Water course, equipment requirements vary from course to course (for the classroom and pool portion of most courses and even for select open water dives we often provide equipment. The drysuit course is a distinct exception), so please contact us directly to determine your equipment needs for the specific course you have in mind. Please note that equipment is NOT included for the Advanced Open Water Diver course and you will need to either own gear or you can rent it from us.
Where can I dive after I’m certified as an Open Water Diver?
You can dive anywhere in the world and up to a depth of 60ft (18m)!! As an Open Water Diver this is the depth to which you are trained. If you still have a desire to dive deeper, you can do so (up to 100ft or 30m) by taking the Advanced Open Water course. Remember, however, that as a safe diver, you must always dive with a buddy, no matter where you go.
How long does my certification last?
Your lifetime!! Having said that, you may want to do a Refresher Course if you haven’t been diving for a while.
Can I try scuba without taking a full course?
Yes, Toronto Scuba Centre offers an option to try scuba diving without getting a full open water certification. Our Discover Scuba Experience includes about 1 hour of pool time with a Divemaster or Instructor. You don’t need to worry about setting up any equipment. We bring it to the pool and set it up for you. We’ll teach you what’s necessary to safely get underwater and breathe, and you’ll even make your way to the deep end of the pool.
For participants who enjoy their time underwater, we provide a credit against the PADI Open Water certification course if you enrol within 12 months of your Discover Scuba Experience.
Do I have to dive in Lake Ontario or Tobermory ever?
No, and we understand that some people just want to experience scuba diving in warm water settings. This is why our courses generally come in two parts.
Our classroom and pool training is completed together as the first part of our courses. The classroom portion covers the theory of the course and the pool is where we teach you the skills you need know to dive in the ‘open water’ (which basically means the ocean, or a lake or a river).
Once you complete the classroom and pool training, you are then ready for the second part of your course, the ‘open water dives’. Theses dives test you on the skills you learnt in the first part of the course. They can be completed on your holiday if you want in a warm water setting, or locally.
TSC does its local open water certification dives at Gulliver’s Lake, a small artesian-fed lake in an RV park that offers much nicer temperatures than Tobermory and much better visibility than Lake Ontario. The four open water dives are conducted over two days. Once you have completed both the first part of your course and your four open water dives, you are then a certified PADI Open Water diver and will receive your PADI Open Water certification card.
How long is the diving season in Ontario?
You can dive all year long if you like in Ontario with the proper equipment and training, however, the Toronto Scuba Centre only dives in the summer months when the water temperature has sufficiently warmed.
Diving in a dry suit allows you to dive locally all year round (with the proper training and experience). TSC offers a dry suit certification course, which allows us to do open water training dives during the spring, summer and fall.
How long do I have to complete my open water certification dives?
You have 12 months from the completion of your pool training (confined training). If this has lapsed, contact us to discuss options for refreshing your pool training ahead of your certification dives.