At some point of growing up, you'd probably had to go through swimming lessons. Be it primary or secondary enrichment class or that your parents wanted you to take up the skill as a sport. I recall rushing to swimming lessons held at Bedok Swimming Complex when I was just 7 years old (primary one), right after my afternoon classes.
So fast-forward the years, I was awarded with basic swimming cert after all those lessons. You know swimming is a just word until you put physical action to give it a meaning. I still fear about not being able to reach the bottom of the pool but I am not alone.
Despite that, I signed up for Open Water Dive course at ADEX 2015 earlier this year, after persuasion from B. To be honest I wasn't keen about diving except to visit those beautiful waters. My first scuba diving experience was in Boracay in mid-2014. It was amazing and the waters were so clear and pretty.
Back to Open Water Dive course. There's 3 parts to it - Theory, Practical (Pool session), Practial (Sea).
For Theory, there'd be 2 weeknight lessons at your chosen dive company. Mine was at Eko Divers. I managed the theory fairly ok because I spent months going through the contents/questions inside the book, before attending the classes. During the classes (3.5hrs), you'd have to sit through videos and revising questions. On the 2nd session, the dive instructor would teach you how to read the Dive Table. Afterwhich, you'll be tested with a series of questions. The papers will be marked and you will know whether you pass or fail.
For Practical, you'll have to attend a dive practice at a swimming pool, which should be at Outram Secondary School. During the practices you'd have to swim 200m (no time limit) and tread water for 10 mins. Both I did horribly. I think if you don't do too well, you'd have to do it once more, either at the end of the practice or the next day/weekend.
The pool session (est 6 hrs) at 2m depth, will equip you with the skills that will be tested in the sea. There will be a dive instructor assigned to a group. Depending on the number of sign-ups, but I had 6 in my group including myself. My French dive instructor was heavily accented so we had to be extra attentive.
Here's a list of skills that you will learn (in no particular order):
1. Mask clearance - partial and full
2. Mask removal and clearance. Tip: if water enter your nose. Press it and blow. It should clear!!
3. Recover regulator + Clear regulator
4. Alternate Air Source (means for you and your buddy to share air as one of you have ran out of air)
5. CESA - Controlled Emergency Safety Ascend (You'd also require to inflate your BCD orally)
6. Pre-dive safety check - BWARF. Stands for BCD, Weights, Air, Releases, Final ok
7. 5 point descend - SORTED. Stands for Signal, Orientate, Regulator, Time, Equalise, Descend
8. Assemble, put on, adjust and dissemble scuba gear
9. Clear water from your regulator
10. Use your SPG (Submersible Pressure Gauge) and signal your remaining air
11. Recognise and respond to hand signals underwater
12. Demonstrate neutral buoyancy / hovering
13. Take off scuba gear and wear back on at surface.
14. Swim and navigate with a compass at surface and at depth (tried this during the sea session. I think it varies from instructors & whether your group have more than enough time)
15. Remove and replace weights at surface
16. Cramp release on buddy and on yourself at surface.
17. BCD oral inflation at surface and at depth
18. Tired diver tow for 25 metres
19.Remove weights, scuba unit and fins in water too deep in which to stand and exit
20. Post-dive care of scuba gear
That sounds like a whole lot of skills didn't it? Fret not and keep a happy positive learning attitude. This session is really essential for you to learn. However you may tend to forget if you dont practice the skills, plus there'll be a gap period (weeks or month) from your pool and sea session. So do watch videos as well to help you understand and recall the skills. There are plenty available on YouTube.
Find out how to execute certain skills here.
I chose Bintan for my Practical (Sea session) because it is 1 hour ferry ride away. Compared to Tioman which one have to take a ultra long bus ride and then a boat ride to reach. Anyone with motion sickness should also bring along your pills.
We were tested with the above skills in under seawater. The visibility wasn't fantastic, about 2-3m, and not that clear. But it was a pleasant experience. I am contented that I am completed this course. Achievement Unlocked! :)