Misconceptions of Essentials and Essentials of Tech
To clear up some common confusion and misconceptions that exists regarding the Essentials class, here's a bit of insight regarding Essentials, Essentials of Tech, Rec 2, Tech 1 and the general UTD teaching philosophy overall.
While the “T” in UTD does stand for “Team”, it’s important to remember that we believe a diver must have solid foundational and personal skills before moving on to team skills. In other words, if a student can’t perform a modified s-drill (personal skill) without losing their trim or buoyancy (foundational skills), how will they be able to perform a full s-drill with a teammate? While the “team” aspect is a critical aspect to the UTD approach, that is just one block in the overall structure, and the top block is only as solid as the blocks below supporting it.
This is where some misinformation and inaccurate comparisons exist with the Essentials class.
Essentials is exactly as its name states. It teaches the essential skills of safe diving. It is, by design, a personal skills class, not a team skills class. We focus on the foundational skills of buoyancy, trim, kicks and balance. We then move to the personal skills of the Basic 6, smb deployment and eventually S-drills. Team skills are introduced and performed, but the focus of this class is to develop the skills needed to become a safer diver and, in turn, a better teammate.
For the reasons stated above, Essentials is a very common entry point into the UTD curriculum.
While divers at any level, including instructors, photographers and experienced divers will benefit from the class, it’s designed to provide a diver who has taken their open water class from outside the UTD curriculum a means of learning the skills required for future UTD classes.
In other words, most open water students wanting to take Rec 2, which is the “equivalent” of Advanced and Nitrox combined, and also where team skills and light critical skills (failures) are introduced would very quickly be overwhelmed, simply because they haven’t built the foundation needed for that class. They wouldn’t learn anything from the class because they’d be overly task loaded from the very beginning.
This isn’t to say that every diver wanting to enter the UTD Recreational curriculum must first take Essentials, as we do accept equivalents. However, Essentials was designed to teach the foundational and personal skills, and introduce team skills, in a non-evaluation environment where the student can focus simply on learning, and not the pressure of passing or failing.
Additionally, there are also only 2 gear requirements for the Essentials class…a 7' long hose and blade style, non-split fins. It was important to us to make this class accessible to anyone wanting to take it, without a large investment in gear and equipment.
The UTD Essentials of Tech class, while similar to the Essentials of Rec in several ways, does differ in that it is an evaluation class. Essentials of Tech is a more robust course, where the student is learning the skills needed to enter the UTD Technical Diving curriculum, in a non-critical skills (failure) environment. To enter the Tech 1 class, where the student will be entering mandatory decompression obligations, the student must first meet the standards of the Essentials of Tech class. To that end, the Essentials of Tech class is an evaluation class, but the student is still learning the required foundational, personal and team skills required to build that foundation needed for more advanced technical diving.
The Essentials of Tech class is taken in double cylinders and a decompression bottle. We feel that teaching the mechanics of gas switches, stowing and bottle passing in a non-critical skills environment allows the student to learn properly the first time and also allows them time to go practice their new skills before entering the Tech 1 curriculum, where failures are introduced.
Upon entering the Rec 2 (after Essentials) or Tech 1 (after Essentials of Tech), the focus shifts to team, awareness, problem solving and thinking. This is because they now have the foundation built, and they can refocus their new extra bandwidth towards those areas, as it is no longer needed for their own skills.
Who is this class designed for?
Many divers find all the adventure they need in recreational dives to 100' or less. However, some are looking for a new challenge, and others want the ability to safely execute dives currently beyond their skill level. Still others want a higher skill set.
Perhaps you're interested in wrecks, caves or maybe deeper exploration on a scooter.
Technical diving is about having fun, just like any other pastime. But, like anything worth doing, it requires perseverance and hard work.
This class is designed for the diver eager to learn some basic technical diving skills which can help improve their recreational diving ability or build a strong foundation to start pursuing the challenge of technical diving.
Why take this class?
This class introduces a whole new set of skills to prepare the diver to enter the world of technical diving. This class starts with the basics of buoyancy, trim and kicks, teaching the diver to hover, motionless, move forward and backward without disturbing the bottom, while wearing doubles and a deco bottle.
We'll then move on to gas sharing, proper ascents with simulated decompression stops and surface marker (smb) deployment.
Major focus is also on double cylinders ("doubles") and deco bottle use.
Academic discussions include decompression, gas planning & management, team positioning, communication & protocols and an in-depth overview of the Hogarthian gear configuration.
This class will build your foundation for your future exploration by developing your skills, knowledge, confidence and competence, making your diving more enjoyable and opening a new world of diving.
ESSENTIALS OF TECHNICAL DIVING
The Essentials of Tech Class is designed to be taught over a three (3) full day period, with 8 hours of class and 4 open water dives.
Day 1 - Typically the class begins with a 3 - 4 hour initial session consisting of introductions and a power point presentation including video of the skills to be evaluated throughout the class. Following a break for lunch there will be 3-4 hours of hands-on equipment fitting, review of gear configuration and a discussion of the pro’s and con’s of various equipment choices.
Once the gear is properly fitted and configured the class then focuses on the “dry runs” of the skills and some practice before entering the water. Dry runs allow the student to practice the skills on land, before entering the water, under the watchful eye of the instructor(s). Skills include trim, precision buoyancy control, propulsion techniques (including backward kick), double tank valve manipulation, decompression bottle gas switching, stowing and passing, fine-tuning equipment configurations, refining underwater communication, utilizing a team diving approach, and effective dive planning.
Day 2 - Begins with students conducting 2 dives, putting the skills and concepts discussed the previous day into practical use while the instructor demonstrates and the videographer captures the in-water session for review and evaluation after lunch. We conclude the day with a 1-2 hour video review where the performance is analyzed, with discussions on methods for improvement. Finally, 2-3 hours of lecture on decompression and gas planning & management brings the day to a close.
Day 3 - The third day is similar to the previous day, which starts with the students executing the additional skills and improving on the prior day's performance, during 2 more dives which will again be video'd for subsequent review. The last dive of the class is an evaluation dive, where their performance will be analyzed and evaluated. After lunch the class will conclude with video review, final lecture session and student performance review and final evaluations.
All FKD classes are video'd for educational review, as we believe this is invaluable for students to visually focus on their individual in-water skills, situational awareness, communication, and team diving. Learning to self evaluate is an important aspect of any class, and video is one of the most important tools we have for instruction. You will be evaluated during the class to obtain the UTD "Essentials of Tech" certification. This certification will allow you to continue within the UTD Technical or Overhead Training curriculum.
Our focus is the complete dedication to your diving skills, knowledge & in water practice.
Minimum 18 years of age
UTD Rec 2 or equivalanet
Minimum 25 dives beyond Essentials of Tech certification
Maximum depth is 60’. Average depth on non-experience dives is 20 - 30'
All dives are to maintain a working PO2 of no greater than 1.4
Standard gas is air and Nitrox 32%
Double tank configuration including a 40cft stage deco bottle of 100% oxygen, limited to one single cycle of oxygen per dive
No overhead environments
Instructor to student ratio maximum 6:1 in open water, during land drill, surface exercises and Experience Dives but 3:1 during any direct in-water critical skills training.
Complete the UTD academic materials (online or book)
All UTD classes are non-smoking
The use of prescription drugs must be authorized prior to the onset of diver training by a physician
Must be able to swim a distance of at least 50 feet/15 meters on a breath hold
Must be able to swim at least 300 yards/275 meters in less than 14 minutes without stopping
All participants must be able to tow a diver in full equipment, in the environment they will be diving in at least 400 yards in 16 minutes
All participants must demonstrate a rescue of a diver simulating oxygen toxicity
See our Equipment Requirements Page
Rentals are available for most equipment. If you have any questions on equipment requirements or rentals, please contact us prior to registering.
The Essentials of Technical Diving course is designed to prepare the diver for technical diving by cultivating the fundamental techniques required for sound technical diving. Essentials of Tech functions as a common (though not required) technical entry point for all previously certified divers wishing to enter FKD’s more demanding technical diving curriculum.
Essentials of Tech focuses on the divers’ bottom skills and introduces higher emphasis on ascent skills. The training is centered on the use of double cylinders, deco bottle mechanics, precise buoyancy control, propulsion techniques, team awareness and controlled ascent procedures, including simulated decompression stops, gas switches and smb deployment.
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