'She Can't Swim',  Diving,  Thailand

The ‘She Can’t Swim’ Chronicles: Assisting on an Open Water course

We got a call the night before and were told that as we now have 40 dives (whoo!!), we were to start assisting on two Open Water courses the following morning. Assisting on a course may involve logistics such as packing the students’ dive bags to running the boat briefing, watching students underwater if the instructor is concentrating on a particular person, and just generally being there to make the instructor’s life easier!

Lionel was bugging out, super excited; he was truly in his element. But I was bugging out for another reason; what if I was terrible at assisting students? Worse yet, what if I couldn’t control my bouyancy and the students ended up being better at diving than I was? I would be a failure, the worst Dive Master Trainee ever!

All night I tossed and turned, imagining all sorts of scenarios where I always ended up stuffing up. I ended up being sick…

In the morning my group ran through classroom stuff, going through the homework the students had completed. The instructor explained the theory and a bit of the science behind diving and I found myself relearning things that I had forgotten from when I did my Open Water course six months ago!

That afternoon our class, a Belgium couple, and two guys from the UK, were to start their ‘confined’ class. This involves either going into the swimming pool or a shallow part of the ocean and learning a few basic skills, such as clearing a flooded mask, recovering a regulator that’s fallen out of your mouth, helping a buddy with a leg cramp, sharing an alternate air supply etc.

As the day was super, ridiculously busy, we ran out of air tanks, so I couldn’t join the group. I could’ve floated above them wearing a snorkel, as Lionel did with his group, but as I was still feeling queasy I sat out. I did however help explain how to set up the equipment and it was interesting to see that it had now become second nature to me!

During the confined session, one guy ended up dropping out as he was hyperventilating and cramping up constantly. He said it wasn’t comfortable and not really for him. It made me realise that despite freaking out and panicking the first time I went into the water six months ago, I perservered and now here I am. I’m not 100% comfortable or confident just yet, but I do enjoy it, and everytime I dive, I know i’m improving, little by little!

Over the next two days we did four dives where the OW group practiced their skills at depths of 12m and 18m. At times they were so good I think they showed me up! I did notice that on the first two dives they all used their arms when diving, something you don’t need to do. By dives 3 & 4, they improved so much that they just used their fins. I’m still working on this skill!!

All in all, I loved assisting on my first Open Water course. I learnt a lot about how the dive shop is run, I refreshed on theory when sitting in on the classroom sessions, and assisting gave me the chance to practice my underwater skills along with the students. The instructor thanked me constantly for helping him out, so I don’t think I was too much in the way (my greatest fear). I also met some great, new people in the OW class.

I’ll need to assist on a few more courses to complete my DMT and I’m so looking forward to it now!

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