Specialty Scuba Diving Courses
We’ve now had an introduction to the Advanced Open Water Course, as well as a review of the Deep Dive and the Navigation Dive. Outside of those two dives, however, the obvious question is what happens on the other three dives?
The remaining dives briefly introduce students to some of the Specialties that are available through PADI and the world of diving generally. There are a host of options and although the student only gets a taste of the specialty, they are able to credit that dive to that corresponding specialty if they subsequently take the specialty course
What is a specialty? A specialty course is one that familiarizes a diver with certain skill sets, knowledge, planning and organization, procedures, techniques and potential hazards that can arise with specific interest areas in diving. A “specific interest” area includes a very wide array of topics, in fact, there are at least twenty-seven advertised PADI specialty courses and the number continues to grow.
Some of the more obvious specialties out there include the Enriched Air Diver (also known as Nitrox), Wreck Diver, Drysuit Diver and underwater digital photography, but there are many more that deal with more distinct skills. The Toronto Scuba Centre is proud to have added to that list, as one of our principal instructors, Peter Mikhail, has created a specific specialty course that deals with breathing techniques and calming exercises to reduce divers anxiety and promote better air consumption.
Optimally, every student would be able to choose precisely what three specialty dives they wanted to take. Such breadth of variety, however, is often difficult for one training institution to provide. There can be some obvious impediments for a dive outfit; for instance, it would be hard to offer a drysuit dive in the tropics. There can also be logistical impediments. For example, if there is only one student requesting to do a DPV (“driver propelled vehicle”) dive, whereas the other students on the course wish to do a drift dive, it is understandable that the majority may win out.
Circumstances usually dictate the choices. At the Toronto Scuba Centre, one of the places we take our students is up to Brockville, Ontario, on the St. Lawrence River. It is an ideal location, given that as a natural transportation route for hundreds of years, it has been the site of numerous wrecks. There is also a significant current at various places, due to it being a fast-flowing river. Accordingly, two of the three dives that we take students on are typically a wreck dive and a drift dive.
Ultimately, what these three remaining dives accomplish is to instill a greater sense of confidence in the student divers, by exposing them to different experiences underwater. The added benefit to the student is that they may find a new avenue of interest on their continuing journey into the world of scuba diving, one that they can further explore on the corresponding Specialty course.
Next we will explore why the Advanced Open Water course significantly increases the confidence and overall diving abilities of the students taking the course.