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My initial training was in 1986 (NAUI/YMCA). Much of our pool training, once we advanced beyond skin-diving/snorkeling skills, utilized a plastic backpack and steel 72 and weight belt (and NO wetsuit). Although our open water check-out involved a full wetsuit (a 0.25" farmer John and jacket, with hood, gloves/mitts, and booties) and Scubapro Stab Jacket (SSJ) BCD, we learned correct weighting--which allowed us do a required three-mile surface swim in full gear, with a completely full 72 and completely empty SSJ, while breathing off a snorkel and towing a surface float and dive flag--training that emphasizes that the BCD is not necessary (though is a useful tool for compensating at depth for suit compression and an emptying cylinder).

Correct weighting means that you would have absolutely no problem waiting at the surface even if wearing a completely full 72 and a completely empty (nonfunctioning) BCD and your weightbelt still in place--if you're able to breathe off your snorkel (which allows more of your heavy head to be below the surface).

You have your surface float to assist you if you need the assistance. And you can always jettison your weightbelt at the surface, if you need additional assistance.

Fundamentals. Not difficult whatsover.

I was certified in 1980 with NAUI and did a Assistant instructor course in 1983. At no time was I expected to swim three miles on the surface in full gear. We did unwater the length of an olympic swimming pool. I towed another diver and did mouth to snorkel (he was a West Point linebacker that chewed tobacco 🤢). We did ditch and don, buoyant ascent, a bunch of stuff (Lots of pool time back in the day), but no open water surface swim. I remember in my SCUBA Diver certification class, we spent one class period using manual inflate horsecollar BCs. The AI course I was already using my own gear.
At least Ginger didn’t have to worry about nitrogen build up or deco stops. Her entire dive was one long safety stop, depth-wise! I wonder whether anyone has ever claimed to beat her record. With professionals doing sat dives, folks have stayed under longer, but that usually involved some kind of chamber, so wouldn’t qualify. Hmmmmm… 🤔

The only way I can think of is to find it on one of the many supported platforms:
BTW, thanks for the post.
I was certified in 1980 with NAUI and did a Assistant instructor course in 1983. At no time was I expected to swim three miles on the surface in full gear. ...

My course was taught by a long-time instructor who designed the course in the early 1970's, before BC's became a thing. So, much of his course, including my 1986 course, continued to be taught using many of the old skills.

The real surprise (to me) was that the 3-mile swim (1.5 miles each way, in full gear, with a completely full cylinder and a completely empty BC, under snorkel power) was so easy! Boring as h---, though, in a freshwater lake (Bull Shoals Lake AR) after the bottom dropped away out of sight. The idea is, we were prepared to be able to do a surface swim out to a distant reef (say), do a dive, and then swim back to shore.

I've mentioned before that my course was a for-credit, university PE course. Physical conditioning was stressed. We did a lot of surface swimming in the pool sessions of the course. A lot of this swimming involved mask, fins, snorkel, weightbelt, and NO wetsuit, while being a bit negatively weighted. By the time our open water practicum took place, after the semester-long lecture and pool training were over, we were all quite in shape for the 3-mile swim. The key, though, was/is being properly weighted (as well as being in shape!)--which is precisely what the skill was meant to reinforce.

Year before last my college student took what was essentially the same course (although my instructor had retired a couple of years earlier, after a very long career). My daughter completed the same skills.


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