Training review - both "Coaching" and Classes..With Trace Malinowski

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I admit that I have done dives that are outside of my official "training". I have had a lot of VERY good mentoring from very seasoned and experienced technical divers. Ive have read everything there is to read - and I eased into the type of diving that we do in NJ. Some of these guys are or were instructors -and in exchange for getting to dive one of the few NJ private boats that dives, they would help me and a few others out. So - I wasnt really risking to much - I was just not taking more classes.

I started to go deeper and deeper and as I approached 160 ft dives more often, I decided its time to take a few steps back and get more training - and start to get ready to add Helium into the mix, which means Trimix/triox classes.

I spoke to several instructors. My original NAUI shop was great for training (basic and advanced - customed to NE wreck diving), but they are really only set up for advanced and master classes - nothing technical. I asked around, made some calls, asked friends who did their training. I found a lot of guys who paid for a class, took a test, did a quarry dive and an experience dive - then had the cert. Seriously - I didnt need that. I mix my own tanks and dont need the cert to get on a boat - quite frankly, I dont care about the cert....its the training that I wanted. So a bunch of instructors were ruled out immediately. That left a list of very good and qualified local people.

I was taking this seriously.

After a phone conversation with Trace Malinowski - and a few conversations with people that were trained by him - I made my choice.

I was initially concerned that I didnt want someone to try to "turn me into" a GUE or DIR diver. Trace was direct and up front that it wasnt his job to convert me into anything - but that there was a lot of sound dive practices and techniques and that it was up to me if I want to utilize them, as long as I met the minimum standards for the class, he would be ok with what I wanted.

I think my comment was - "fine, as long as I dont have to get rid of my "quick release" clips on my Transplate harness!!!!" LOL.

So I signed up for "coaching" - followed by a few classes.

Being a NE diver (and please dont take offense if some of you NE guys dont fall into this category) - I know that my trim, buoyancy and propulsion are not ideal. Basically - we hit the water heavy - then crawl on the bottom (its not that bad, but you get my point).

I though that a full day of Trace's coaching sessions would help determine if I could even get to the minimum PSAI standards yet.

The Coaching day was great. Sure, I learned that I had things to work on - but who doesnt. It went very well and we focused on trim, buoyancy, propulsion and the entire thing was video recorded - then we reviewed it in detail.

The next day we started training. One of Trace's gifts is in his instruction. He knows standards - he knows that he is going to push you - and - he keeps pushing and keeps throwing every angle at you. Valve failures, OOA, running a reel (cave or wreck style), penetration, gas switches, propulsion, team concepts......then everything at once from any and every angle as he thinks your ready for it. I would not have thought that following a reel line back after tying off, BLIND, through penetrations with a valve failure thrown in for good measure....was in my wheelhouse - but actually - it was fun. Did I look good .......heck no - but I did it and learned a lot. And once again - the whole thing was video taped and reviewed in great detail. Everything from silting out the area, trim angle, stop depth monitoring during gas switches, etc - was covered in great detail.

Overall - I would say that I made a great choice and by the time we are finished - next season - I will be a MUCH more competent and confident diver - and thanks to Trace, I might even look a little better as I dive - I might even have good horizontal trim....maybe.

If you want to challenge yourself - no matter how certified you think you are - Trace is the man. Not everyone is a natural at giving honest direct feedback about both the good and the bad. Not everyone knows how to push the limits. And BTW, one thing I noticed in the videos is that no matter what he had me do - and no matter where I was, if it was a new challenge, he was right there close enough to make sure the situation was under control.

I think the idea of "COACHING" is a great concept to diving. He makes it specific to what you need. Not everything needs a certification or a class. The Coaching day was a great add-on.

Anyone looking for any level of training, from basic - through Cave and beyond......should consider Trace. I anted to find someone to really push me to be better - and he has done exactly that.

I have instructed (Brazilian Jiu-jitsu), and seen a lot of instructors in a lot of sports. For technical training - I can tell you that I cant imagine anyone as thorough as Trace.


Island girl
ScubaBoard Supporter
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Great write up, Thanks for sharing your experiences. Trace is enthusiatic and very dedicated to helping you bring out the best in youself.
Happy diving!

Pardon this touch screen's annoying autocowrecktions sent via Tapatalk.


Scuba Instructor
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Nice write up. I had the pleasure of hanging out with Trace for a few days in cave country this summer and have wanted to train with him ever since. Solid, interesting guy, and obviously quite an accomplished diver.
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