Many of the skills outlined above are personal skills, catered to the individual diver. Not to worry, we incorporate team skills as we progress, moving from personal based skills to introduction to diving within a team.  These skills include s-drills and surface marker buoy (smb) deployment.

This class serves as an excellent introduction to UTD, and is perfect for someone who wants to start recreational training in more advanced UTD / FKD classes.

The Essentials of Recreational Diving course is designed to improve recreational divers' comfort, skills, safety and confidence, regardless of skill or experience level, in a safe and fun learning environment.  

​It's a non-evaluation class, allowing the student to learn new knowledge and skills without the pressure of passing or failing. Additionally, equipment requirements are minimal, to prevent a large upfront cost of gear purchases for the student.

"I know we have said it few times but thank you all again for the education you provided us during the UTD Essentials of Recreational Diving class. It was all I wanted and more for our program. You have allowed me to realize a growth potential in our diving program that I have been trying for years to get started. It couldn't have happened without you.- Jeff Christiansen, Dive Safety Officer / Biologist, Seattle Aquarium

Essentials is a common entry point for certified divers from conventional training into UTD’s more demanding curriculum as it provides the diver with the skills and understanding required for more advanced UTD courses, focusing on precise buoyancy control, dive planning, propulsion techniques, ascent procedures, safety and environmental awareness.

Essentials is a personal skills class.  All skills being performed will be discussed and practiced on land before entering the water.  All dives will be briefed prior to entering the water and all skills will be rehearsed.  

This is not a critical skills class.  No failures will be introduced by the instructor in this class.

Who is this class designed for?

The Essentials of Recreational Diving creates the foundation the diver will build upon for the rest of his/her diving career, regardless of what direction they go.   

Here you'll be introduced to the UTD philosophy, gear configuration and in-water skills, without a large commitment to gear purchases.  This class is designed for any diver wanting to increase their skill level, confidence and knowledge, with an introduction to team diving.   The class is geared toward the newly certified open water diver, but even seasoned veteran divers and instructors have found that by incorporating UTD principles and their newly acquired skills into their diving practices, they increase both safety and fun.  

If you're a photographer or videographer, imagine having that precise control that allows you to get your perfect shot.  Instructors will appreciate the "fresh look" at diver training and skill development, providing them with plenty of new tools in their instructor toolbox.  This is a great step towards learning and understanding the Unified Team Diving approach.

Simply put, divers of all skill and experience levels will benefit from this class.

Why take this class?

Regardless of your experience level, the Essentials class will increase your skill level, knowledge and confidence.

The Essentials class is centered around building a foundation of skills of which you can incorporate immediately and build upon, regardless of your current and future aspirations.  Every diver wants to have control of their position, buoyancy and propulsion.  This simply makes diving more fun.  If you're in control of your positioning, buoyancy and kicks, you'll enjoy the dive more.  These skills aren't exclusive to technical diving or cave diving!  The "quieter" you are underwater, the more you'll enjoy your dive, and the more your buddies will enjoy the dive.

Want to learn about the Hogarthian gear configuration, or how to correctly fit your harness, or proper routing and deployment of your longhose regulator?  How about managing your primary light and light cord underwater?  

We'll start with configuring your gear to properly fit you.  This is the first step to making your life easier underwater.  Once that gear is fitted and configured properly, we'll put it to use in the environment it was built to function in.  We'll spend at least 4 dives in the water, working on the positioning skills mention above, as well as how to most easily manipulate the equipment while staying "quiet" in the water.  

We'll also work on controlled descents and ascents, allowing you to be comfortable and confident on those dives where you may not have a bottom contour to descend or ascend on.

All of this in a non pass/fail environment.  Allowing you to focus on learning, without the burden, stress or pressure of passing a class.

Class Information

Essentials is designed to be taught over a 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 introduced in the class along with a discussion of the mechanics behind balance, buoyancy, trim and kicks.

After lunch break, we move on to an in-depth discussion on basic decompression, gas planning and management  and communication.

Day 2 - Begins with hands-on equipment fitting, review of gear configuration discussing not simply how to properly fit and configure your equipment, but why it's configured that way.  

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 under the watchful eye of the instructor(s). Skills include improving diver trim, proficiency in precision buoyancy control, perfecting propulsion techniques (including the back kick) and basic equipment manipulation.  After a discussion of underwater communications and effective dive planning, the students will conduct 2 dives putting the skills and concepts learned in the morning session into actual practice while the videographer captures the in-water session for review after lunch. 

We conclude the day with a 1-2 hour video review.

Day 3 - The third day will commence with practicing additional skills and methods for improving the prior day's performance.  After a discussion on incorporating teamwork into the day's dives, the students will conduct at least 2 more dives which will again be video'd for review later in the day.

After lunch the class will conclude with the video review, final lecture session and student performance review.

All UTD / FKD classes are video'd for educational and review purposes only.  We believe it 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 the class.  

Our focus is the complete dedication to your diving skills, knowledge & in water practice.


Minimum 16 years of age

Must be a certified open water diver from a recognized training agency

Overview/Course limits

Maximum depth is 60’.  Average depth 20 - 30'

All dives are to maintain a working PO2 of no greater than 1.4

Standard gas is air or 32%

Single tank configuration (doubles optional)

No stage decompression

No overhead environments

Long hose primary, and necklace style backup regulator hose configuration

Instructor to student ratio maximum 6:1 in open water, adjusting downward for environmental conditions.


Complete the Essentials academic material (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

Required Equipment

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.