The first time I read about technical diving, I thought I’d never try it. I combed through a tec diving manual and found claims stating that even if everything was done correctly, there was still considerable risk for accidents and death. These claims stuck to my mind like crusted barnacles. I couldn’t help but think: who would want to try technical diving if it was so inherently dangerous?
Fast forward a year and four months, and I found myself as the answer to my own question.
I sat in a classroom with my manual and equipment splayed across my desk, ready for my PADI Tec 40 course to start. In those moments, I wondered what had happened in the last 16 months to change my mind.
Photo taken by Anthony Caballero
I’d been working as a scuba instructor and had increased my number of dives from just over 100 to well over 1,000. Diving became part of my everyday life. Breathing compressed air through a regulator became just as normal as taking a breath on the surface.
I was still madly in love with diving, but submerging had become second-nature. It no longer felt like the exciting challenge it used to.
Tec diving made me a student again. It reminded me of something I love about diving: exploring the unknown. Not only by diving deeper, but by delving further into my own abilities. I could face novel challenges again, master new skills, and refine old ones I’d become complacent with.
IN THE TECHNICAL DIVING COURSE:
During my first confined-water session, I felt like a brand-new student: awkward, buoyant, and overwhelmed by all of the procedures to remember.
Photo taken by Grace Williams
I’d optimized my reaction time in emergency situations, like controlling a free-flowing regulator.
I’d perfected procedures of staging and donning deco bottles.
And I’d fine-tuned my buoyancy until my depth at decompression stops fluctuated by no more than a foot and a half.
PREPARING TO BECOME A TECHNICAL DIVER:
It’s no secret tec diving isn’t for everyone. However, many of my hesitations to try technical diving were overcome by taking other courses.
Before my tec course, I completed PADI Deep and Nitrox specialties. These prepared me for the increased pressure and effects of narcosis at deeper depths, and taught me about diving with higher oxygen contents.
I also completed Sidemount and Self-Reliant courses. They taught me how to dive with multiple tanks and regulators, and explained the importance of redundancy and self-sufficiency.
All of these concepts play a huge role in technical diving. Increasing my recreational SCUBA knowledge created a foundation upon which I could build my tec skills.
Photo taken by Shantal Amszynowski
SO, WHY TRY TECHNICAL DIVING?
Maybe the allure of the abyss calls to you and you’re wondering: why try technical diving?
It’s obstacle-ridden and humbling, but can reignite a fading passion. It can leave you with a sense of accomplishment and a refined set of diving skills. It can grant access to depths beyond recreational limits where lesser-known shipwrecks and deep reefs lie, waiting to be explored.
There will always be risks, but with proper training and preparation, you might also find the answer to your own question.