What really is an "Advanced Open Water" diver?

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scubadada

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It saddens me to read statements that ow certified divers are not autonomous and must be guided.
After my LA County basic certification in 1970, I was prepared for diving in local conditions. That's exactly what I did for 10 years, shore diving in LA, Orange, and San Diego Counties as well as occasional trips to Catalina.

After a 17 year hiatus, I was recertified by PADI in Grand Cayman. Deep dives were guided, shallow dives could be executed autonomously. The philosophy of certification was entirely different, as were local diving regulations. I did not take AOW until about 75 dives, did not need it in Grand Cayman for many dives over 100 feet. I did use AOW shortly thereafter to facilitate dives on the Spiegel Grove and Duane in Key Largo. I could have qualified on recent deep dives, but AOW was the easiest pathway. I had already done nitrox 2 years before AOW, ha.

Training is funny. I have not done anything with PADI since rescue in 2005. Only thing I have done since is SDI Solo in 2013. I have 2,050 dives now, since 1997.
 

gqllc007

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My first NAUI card in 1977 says Open Water 1. My next YMCA card says Open Water II. My next PADI card says Advanced Open Water Diver
 

scrane

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A long time ago in the land of NAUI the certification after OW was "Sport Diver". The "requirements" were basically what makes an AOW diver today. In fact, a few years ago I asked NAUI for a AOW card because nobody knew what a Sport Diver was. Looking back, Sport Diver is a pretty nice thing to be.
 

VikingDives

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This really depends on the course. My local univ will begin its Fall Term scuba course tomorrow. When those students complete the course (including their open water check-out), they will be ready to buddy dive completely independently. It's been that way "forever" for students taking this particular course.

rx7diver

Are you talking about OW or AOW? I was referring to OW...
 

Esprise Me

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I am sure that my fellow instructors will agree that this individual is not truly an advanced open water diver.
I'm not an instructor, but I agree, the person you describe is a beginner. But there are so many levels beyond that, I don't know how you could draw a line and call only the people on one side of it "advanced." If that same diver added on Rescue and some specialty courses, actually demonstrated proficiency in them, and got, say, 50 dives under his belt, so that he qualified for PADI MSD? What if he had a hundred dives and completed the solo course? If he became an instructor? If he took GUE Fundamentals and earned a tech pass?

Progress isn't always linear, either. One can become very skilled in a particular environment with its particular challenges, yet be unprepared for a different environment. One might have progressed rapidly through the levels of training but not have had much real-world experience at each level, meaning few opportunities to make mistakes and be tested by unexpected problems. One might have done a lot of dives but not spent much time actually practicing skills or reflecting on how they might improve, and therefore not growing much from their experience. One might have taken time off from diving at some point and forgotten much of what they knew, and never relearned it. One might know the "right" ways of doing things but consider those rules to be unnecessary for someone of their skill level. I have been instabuddies with all of these ones, and may have been one of more of these ones myself at times. It's gonna narrow the pool considerably if none of them can be considered advanced.
 

VikingDives

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It saddens me to read statements that ow certified divers are not autonomous and must be guided.

There's a difference between training and experience. I don't let students out of the pool unless they can hold a neutral hover and I have seen real mastery of skills. I also do a minimum of five dives in OW. There're pretty good divers when they are done, but they aren't qualified or experienced enough to be sent off to do whatever they want.

I'd also like to disabuse them of the notion that they know everything. It isn't lack of training or poor training, it's just my judgement that though I consider my students much better trained than the vast majority of my peers, they haven't acquired enough dives or dives in different environments to go jump into situations where they lack experience. Maybe I didn't communicate that effectively.

The other factor that I ask my students to consider is the quality of the other divers around them. i.e. these divers were doing rescue this weekend according to my facebook feed:

70 feet down is a good place to go to your knees to clear your mask, right?

standing on the bottom of the pool.jpg
mask clearing on knees at the bottom of blue hole.jpg
 

MiloR

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An AOW cert means that you have Advanced your OW skills. Nothing more, Nothing less. If the student feels that it means they have and Advanced skill set or are an Advanced Diver then that falls on the Instructor for not properly explaining the Goals of the Course.
It is not a waste of time or money as the Student can advance their Open Water skills if they have the desire and a competent Instructor.

From the PADI website:


About the Course
The Advanced Open Water Diver course is all about advancing your skills. You'll practice navigation and buoyancy, try deep diving and make three specialty dives of your choosing (it's like a specialty sampler platter). For every specialty dive you complete, you can earn credit toward PADI® specialty certifications.

Here are a few of the many options: Enriched Air Nitrox, Deep, Fish Identification, Night, Peak Performance Buoyancy, Digital Underwater Imaging, Search & Recovery, Underwater Naturalist, Underwater Navigation, Dive Against Debris, Dry Suit, and Wreck Diver.

Take This Course If You Want to
  • Gain more diving experience
  • Practice navigation
  • Sample different types of diving
Learn How to
  • Explore below 18m/60ft
  • Improve your buoyancy
  • Use a compass

Nowhere does PADI market the AOW course as anything other then what it is......"Advancing your Skills". I'll never understand why people want to hate so badly.....
 

100days-a-year

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To me it means one of two things.
1. Someone who wants to be better trained to handle conditions and situations likely to be encountered by an average diver.
2. Card collector
 

TMHeimer

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Another aspect to the question may be what exactly should be in the AOW course and how should it be taught. Let's leave out the number of dives thing, since we know you can get the PADI AOW card with a total of 9 dives. And, some will say that they know a diver who is outstanding who has 25 dives and another with1,000 who sucks, and maybe is also a DM or even instructor.
So, The course? (I'll talk PADI because that's all I really know).
5 "sample" or "adventure dives"-- They all should revolve around diver competence and/or safety. Let's take my own experience taking AOW--
1 & 2 --of course the required NAV & DEEP. Nav qualifies for obvious reasons. Deep is good because at some point probably most divers will venture beyond 60.--Now though, consider that my Deep dive was to 63. Maybe the big thing here is you have to do it to around 100'. I know that's not practical in some locales--but--referrals for it?
3. P.P.Buoyancy. Good. I know, you should be good with this after OW, but extra work can't hurt.
4. Night-- Maybe. Possible help when you will eventually hit like 1 foot visibility on a day dive.
5. "Nitrox Adventure Dive". No. No point unless you do the whole course (which for years has required no dives anymore).
Maybe a good one would be S & R.-- Who knows when buddy separation may require a search. Safety.

There may be other good ones-- and for sure a few that don't fit my parameters. Same idea on this goes for the PADI MSD
cert. -- No basket weaving courses should count toward that either.

Regarding how these dives should be taught-- Of course some things will vary per instructor. NAV-- learn natural & compass navigation and get where you want to go. The full course-- do squares, triangles, etc. The instructor I had was a full cave diver who at the time was well known for his exploration like 300 feet into a (some?) cave(s) in N. Florida. He had to brush up a bit to explain the Nav Finder to me. I mean, I don't think a lot of this stuff is expainable in TOO many different ways.

The word "Advanced". When I got the cert. I had 15 dives. I'd have to be an idiot to think I was in any way advanced. But, I understand why some would be concerned. In the Pub someone posted that masks are bad because like wearing a seat belt, masks could cause people to take bad risks-- like an Advanced diver with 10 dives doing stupid things. That's human nature, and I am not giving a lot of thought to those dopes.
In my Signature-- IS my book "The Most Advanced"? Well, I've played through many many advanced books and can honestly say I've found none any harder than mine for sure.
BUT--- It's a TITLE, like a certification. Nothing more.
 

rx7diver

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Are you talking about OW or AOW? I was referring to OW...

Well, a single fifteen-week, for-undergraduate-college-credit course (3 credit hours) having a 2-hour lecture session once a week, and an hour-long wet session twice a each week. The course will take a student from barely-able-to-swim, to being able to plan and execute recreational buddy dives (including repetitive dives) independent of supervision.

The diver won't look polished (of course) and still has a lot to learn (as do we all), but he/she will be extremely safe and able to perform self-rescue and buddy rescue (including in-water rescue breathing, and CPR).

I wouldn't hesitate buddy-ing with one of these brand-spankin' new divers. In fact, I sometimes do!

rx7diver
 
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