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 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 (not flippers) 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.
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?
Absolutely! Scuba is one of the fastest growing sporting activities and as long as you can answer ‘no’ to all the questions listed on the medical questionnaire here and can swim and tread water for the required time then you’re only a short step away from being a diver! 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.
Do I have to be a good swimmer?
We always get asked this question. 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.
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 do Scuba?
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, the standards for student to instructor ratio have to be adhered to. Currently, the in-classroom ratio for student to Instructor can be any number (after all it’s just a classroom remember and you’ll be nice and dry the entire time). This changes when we get into the pool. The in-pool training ratio is a maximum of 10 students per instructor (which can be increased if a certified training assistant helps the instructor).
We believe, however, that better training comes from having smaller groups. Accordingly, we try to limit our numbers to 8 students per instructor for our pool sessions. This is a really nice number to work with and guarantees quality time for each student.
During particularly busy periods we cannot, however, guarantee that there will be only 8 students per instructor, so please feel free to contact us in advance of your course to find out how many students are signed up for the course you have chosen, if this is important to you.
Where are your classes?
Our primary teaching location is at the prestigious Bishop Strachan School, Toronto’s premier private girl’s school. Teaching at such a venerable location provides us with the chance to use their state of the art classrooms, as well as their private and accommodating pool.
Occasionally we do use alternative pools, however you will be notified of that at the time of signing up.
The majority of our certification dives (outdoor dives) take place between June and the end of September at Gulliver’s Lake, a private lake approximately one hour west of Downtown Toronto. Our Advanced Open Water Diver Course takes place in The Thousand Islands (on the Saint Lawrence River) on select weekends throughout the summer.
We also occasionally run select courses on our international dive trips. 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, the Toronto Scuba Centre offers two options where you can try scuba diving without getting a full open water certification. The first option involves only a pool session and is our Introduction to Scuba Diving course, the other gives you both a pool and open water session and is our Discover Scuba Diving course.
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 (if you do so through us, we use either a local open water site or the St. Lawrence River near Kingston, but please note that Ontario certification dives in an open water environment are not available after mid to late September and recommence somewhere in May of the following year, depending on temperatures).
For the Open Water course there are four Open Water dives, which are normally 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 Open Water diver and will receive your 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. Please contact us for the beginning of our Open Water season or the end of it or refer to our online schedule.
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).
Refund Policy and Administrative Fees
The Toronto Scuba Centre is the only scuba training organization in the Greater Toronto Area to offer courses year-round, week-by-week, with the exception of holiday weekends. We do our best to make sure courses run regardless of numbers. To maintain the highest standards of training, course equipment, course consistency and the relationships with our training facilities, teaching staff and with PADI, we incur and commit to substantial costs. Cancellations and changes by customers are sometimes unavoidable and we understand that. In order to be able to continue to offer those high standards, however, it is necessary for some of those costs to be borne by the customer in the event of a cancellation or schedule change.
The Toronto Scuba Centre will issue refunds in the following manner:
1) After signing up online, in-store or over the phone all courses are non-refundable regardless of circumstance. A student is welcome to postpone their course to a later date, subject to the administrative fees set out in this policy. Course payments are not interchangeable and cannot be substituted for in-store purchases.
2) Courses, course credits, or dive equipment purchased from Toronto Scuba Centre or the dive store that have not been redeemed by the student/client within 12 months of the course sign-up date or gear purchase date will cease to be redeemable and are not transferrable. If a portion of a course has been redeemed and the remainder is capable of being postponed, then the remaining portion must be completed within 12 months of the end of the initial completed portion.
3) All cancellations/postponements and/or moving fees will be subject to HST.
4) Courses requiring multi-stage attendances (such as class & pool training and open water certification dives) that have a set course fee paid in one amount are not refundable in part if a student completes one portion of the course, but then is unable to complete the next portion of their course. Students are able to postpone the remaining portion of the course to a later date, however, this may be subject to that student completing a refresher if the postponement exceeds 12 months. The cost of that refresher will be determined at the time of the refresher and may either be the price of TSC’s “Refresher” course or a fee that reflects the costs borne by TSC. Money paid as the fee for one course is also not transferrable towards the cost of another course with TSC. Similarly, no partial refund will be available in the circumstances where two people sign up for a course using the buddy course fee and then either one of them is unable to complete the full requirements for that course.
5) Administrative Fee for Cancellation, postponement due to illness or schedule conflicts.
The Toronto Scuba Centre will charge an administrative fee to a customer under the circumstances described below, which shall be paid by the customer prior to the completion of their course. Failure to pay the administrative fee will result in the customer being removed from the scheduled course date or by Toronto Scuba Centre withholding documentation approving the completion of the course and receiving certification. The circumstances in which an administrative fee shall be charged are:
1) A failure to attend a course on the course date that the customer previously requested;
2) A failure to attend the entirety of a course on the course dates that the customer previously requested; and,
3) A change request by a customer that is less than 14 days from the date of their scheduled course.
The administrative fee charged for those circumstances described above will be $85. This fee is used to cover the high rental fees associated with facility rentals and instruction.
PLEASE NOTE: Requests for cancellations, postponement or changes within 7 days preceding the start of a course will be subject to an additional increased administrative fee, in addition to the administrative fee described above. At that point, the Toronto Scuba Centre will have to account for the instructor that has been secured for the course. This fee is $40 in addition to the standard $85 administrative fee.