Home Page    Contact Us    Links    FAQ    View Cart        

   What is an overhead? Proper training for overheads? (click title to expand)

    Is the risk explained clearly enough in Basic OW training?


     Recent events in the national and international news are the inspiration for this essay.  On Christmas day 2013 a father and son, neither of which had proper cave training, entered a sink in Florida known as Eagles Nest.  It is known that this was not the first time they had done this.  It has also come out that in addition to lack of cave training, neither had any formal certification beyond Open Water.  Even more unbelievable is that fact that the son had no formal certification at all.  It appears that all of his training came from books, the internet, and his father. As a result both pushed their luck too far one time too many. And they paid the ultimate price. Both died and had to be retrieved from the cave by other divers. The recovery divers lives were put at risk by the actions of these two. 

     When I first heard of this my initial reaction was to place all the blame on the father. Then it became apparent that the son also knew that what he was doing was dangerous and yet still followed his father in the endeavor.  There is a tendency to give him some leeway due to his age (15 yrs old) but I cannot do that. Given the amount of time and postings on a message board that he made, he had to have been aware of the danger and yet made a conscious decision to continue his path to destruction. He bragged about going to depths and places that no responsible instructor or even other diver would say was ok.  So I do give him equal share in the blame.  Now there is at least one family member calling for the closure of the site to divers.  I can only see this as an attempt to cover up the poor decision making demonstrated by his now dead family members.  And for those who care to read some new reports we can see that poor decision making was more or less a family tradition with these two.

    But another area where I can see some responsibility is in the diving community itself.  We have allowed certain entities to make diving appear to be some benign activity that anyone can do and not highlight the very real risks involved.  SCUBA diving has the potential to kill even shallow, clear, open water divers very quickly and in some very nasty ways.  Yet little is made of these risks in the name of not scaring people away from the sport.  I have had instructors tell me that I can't talk about the risks in graphic detail with new divers. That I can't show pictures of dead divers. That I need to focus on the positive aspects and downplay the risks.  To them I say, NO! I will not down play those risks and will continue to be blunt and open about how things can go bad in an alien environment. (click title to expand)


Sugar coating has never been a strong suit of mine. As many who know me understand and have seen demonstrated clearly.  So I am not now going to start and placate those who cannot handle the truth. 

So let's take a look at the part the industry plays in some of these ideas that may in fact be contributing to death and injury in the activity. Specifically when it comes to diving in overhead environments. Perhaps by shedding some light on this we can convince the industry or at least some conscientious individual instructors to move away from the practice of minimizing the risks and produce divers who are aware, informed, and safer to themselves and everyone around them. Because let's be clear, when a diver engages in risky behavior he or she puts the lives of those who have respond to the negative consequences of that behavior at risk. Unfortunately they have to recover or rescue the irresponsible diver at risk of serious injury or death themselves. In addition they also tie up valuable resources that someone who has a genuine accident may need. Therefore this behavior is not only foolhardy but also incredibly selfish.

In my opinion the industry needs to first acknowledge the part they play.  The majority of advertising that the general public and, by extrapolation, new divers see is that of people enjoying clear warm water and looking like it is as easy as walking on the beach.  Very rarely do we see divers in dry suits diving cold water. We do not see divers lugging a hundred or so pounds of gear to drop into a local quarry or lake. We do not see mention of the time it takes to produce a truly competent, safe, and knowledgeable diver that does not require the assistance of a professional to safely plan, execute, and return from a dive.  And we certainly never see mention of the injury and death than can occur as a result of diving.

With this in mind we need to ask why aren't the risks of overheads talked about more in basic diver training? And why are they not done in a manner that would truly have an impact on new divers? I looked at several Basic OW course student manuals and one has a single page talking about overheads and how they can be dangerous. Two have no mention of it at all. I am trying to locate some from other agencies just to see if they do or do not address the issue. Based on what I have seen so far I am not hopeful and this to me is a serious problem. In my own training I remember reading the page about overheads but not about discussing them specifically in classroom sessions. But I also remember hearing about how great swim thru's are! Really?

As I continue to learn, as well as teach, I am amazed at the level of risk overheads pose for divers, and as a result my own definition of them has changed over the years. Some of the biggest items that have affected my own views are taking a class in Ice Diving, doing a traverse with a cave instructor and another full cave diver between two limestone quarries, teaching wreck classes, and doing my own limited wreck penetration and planned decompression dives.

I have to say that out of all of them it would be Ice that changed the way I look at overheads the most. Being literally inches from people on the surface who would have been absolutely no help to me had things gone bad and be able to see them had a profound effect on my. It changed the way I view every overhead, whether actual or theoretical. I now have the opinion that many of the so called swim thru's that divers are taken into in all corners of the globe are indeed overhead environments and as such are potentially lethal. Especially to the average diver we see coming out of many OW classes in the last few years. They have been led to believe that as long as they follow the DM or guide they'll be fine. They can't even plan their own dive, in many cases have no rescue skills, and even think that following a DM or guide single file without a proper dive buddy is acceptable.

In my opinion a physical overhead is any overhead more than a body length that two divers cannot swim through abreast. If they need to go through single file they should not go through unless they have had some type of overhead training. Now there are those who will take exception and perhaps even offense to this. That is your right. I do not apologize for my views. They are mine and they are how I teach my students. Overhead dives should never be taken lightly. They have the potential to cause very serious problems for the untrained and inexperienced diver. As such my feeling is that more needs to be made of the danger in training materials and more graphic descriptions of the consequences discussed. As previously stated I have looked at the Basic Open Water training materials for several agencies and one has a single page discussing overheads and two others have none. I find this remarkable given what we know about them and the practices that some shops, instructors, and resorts have when it comes to leading untrained divers into overhead environments. They will say that it is dangerous on one hand and then proceed to lead them through and into places where a simple mistake could result in tragedy. How they reconcile this is beyond me. I believe that simple economics is the answer to some of it. More exciting equals more profit. But I do not believe it is the only answer.

I have seen a number of dive professionals that have no technical diving experience at all. In fact I'd guess it's more the norm than the exception. Technical diving is expensive, time consuming, gear intensive, and certainly not for everyone. But I feel that some level of it is essential for the dive professional who wants to understand the risks and consequences of diving into these environments. Even if they never do it they should realize that new divers may be tempted by irresponsible guides and be led into a lethal situation. This practice is more common in some areas than others. Those locations are fairly well known to the dive community and yet they are not as publicized as they could be regarding the dangers they pose. And why is that? The agencies certainly are aware of shops and operations affiliated with them that do this yet say nothing until an incident occurs. The recent actions taken by PADI regarding operations in Belize that take divers to the Blue Hole are telling in how weak they are. Instead of saying stop it or we will cancel your affiliation they suggest that dive ops modify the way they do things so that the government does not take serious actions. Why are they not taking a stronger stance? Why are no agencies with shops and operations that fly their banner around the globe saying you absolutely cannot do this? If you do we will not support you in any way and your insurance is void if you do? How many deaths will it take before they wake up and do something serious to put an end to these practices?

Perhaps it will involve changing the way dive professionals are created. Right now there are OW Instructors with an card in their hand that says they can teach yet if asked feel they need to intern or be guided by a more experienced instructor for their first class or two. Why then do they even have an Instructor card? To me this makes no sense. It says you can teach. You say you can't. What part of the IDC or whatever your agency calls it did you fail or did it fail you?

So what training is required for overhead diving? In my opinion the answer is that it depends. It depends on the type of overheads the diver wishes to take on, where, and to what extent. And I will get into that in the next post.


Posted by jimlap212 on Sunday December 29, 2013 12:25 pm



Wednesday May 29, 2019 4:38 am
Posted by gamefly free trial as
Howdy this is kind of of off topic but I was wanting to
know if blogs use WYSIWYG editors or if you
have to manually code with HTML. I'm starting a
blog soon but have no coding expertise so I wanted to get
advice from someone with experience. Any help would be greatly appreciated!
Friday May 31, 2019 5:43 am
Posted by gamefly free trial as
Greate article. Keep writing such kind of info on your page.
Im really impressed by your blog.
Hello there, You've performed a fantastic job. I will definitely digg it and for
my part suggest to my friends. I'm sure they'll
be benefited from this website.
Monday June 03, 2019 3:03 am
Posted by gamefly free trial as
Hello friends, how is the whole thing, and what
you would like to say regarding this post, in my view its
actually amazing designed for me.
Monday June 03, 2019 10:40 am
Posted by gamefly free trial as
You really make it seem so easy with your presentation but I find
this topic to be really something that I think I would never understand.
It seems too complicated and very broad for me. I'm looking forward for your next
post, I will try to get the hang of it!
Wednesday June 05, 2019 2:25 am
Posted by gamefly free trial as
I'm now not positive where you are getting your info, however good topic.

I must spend a while finding out much more or understanding more.
Thank you for fantastic information I used to be looking for this info for my mission.
Wednesday June 05, 2019 6:08 pm
Posted by gamefly free trial as
Hello there, I found your site by way of Google while searching for a comparable subject, your web site came up, it
looks good. I have bookmarked it in my google bookmarks.

Hello there, just became alert to your weblog thru Google, and located that it is really informative.
I am gonna watch out for brussels. I'll appreciate if you happen to continue this in future.
Lots of folks will probably be benefited from your writing.
Monday June 10, 2019 6:34 am
Posted by gamefly free trial 2 as
We are a group of volunteers and opening a brand new scheme in our community.

Your site offered us with valuable info to work
on. You've performed a formidable process and our whole neighborhood will
likely be thankful to you.
Wednesday June 12, 2019 4:46 am
Posted by ps4 best games ever as
Hello, just wanted to say, I loved this post. It was helpful.
Keep on posting!
Friday June 14, 2019 1:05 am
Posted by quest bars cheap as
No matter if some one searches for his necessary thing, so he/she desires to be available that in detail, therefore that
thing is maintained over here.
Monday June 17, 2019 7:29 am
Posted by http://tinyurl.com/ as
Thank you for some other wonderful post. Where else may
just anybody get that type of information in such a perfect approach of writing?
I've a presentation subsequent week, and I'm at the search for such info.
Thursday June 20, 2019 12:26 am
Posted by tinyurl.com as
I was suggested this blog by my cousin. I am not sure whether this post is written by him as no one else know such
detailed about my difficulty. You are amazing! Thanks!
Monday July 01, 2019 5:57 am
Posted by tinyurl.com as
Excellent beat ! I would like to apprentice while you amend your web site, how can i subscribe for a blog website?
The account helped me a acceptable deal. I had been a little bit acquainted of this your broadcast offered bright clear concept
Monday July 15, 2019 4:03 am
Posted by plenty of fish datin as
Hi it's me, I am also visiting this website regularly, this
web site is actually nice and the viewers are genuinely sharing pleasant thoughts.
Wednesday July 17, 2019 6:28 pm
Posted by how to get help in w as
Thanks for any other great article. The place else may anyone get that
type of info in such an ideal method of writing? I have a presentation next
week, and I am at the search for such information.
Thursday July 18, 2019 3:19 am
Posted by plenty of fish datin as
It's great that you are getting ideas from this paragraph as well as from our dialogue made here.
Monday July 22, 2019 6:12 am
Posted by natalielise as
I enjoy what you guys tend to be up too. This sort of clever work and coverage!
Keep up the wonderful works guys I've added you guys to blogroll.
natalielise pof
Tuesday July 23, 2019 7:09 pm
Posted by plenty of fish datin as
Good article. I definitely love this website.
Keep writing!
Tuesday August 13, 2019 12:34 am
Posted by plenty of fish datin as
Pretty nice post. I just stumbled upon your weblog and wished to say that I've truly enjoyed browsing
your blog posts. In any case I'll be subscribing to your feed
and I hope you write again very soon!
Wednesday August 14, 2019 3:58 am
Posted by plenty of fish datin as
Thanks for some other informative web site. The place else may
just I am getting that type of info written in such a perfect
approach? I've a project that I am just now working on, and I've been at the look out for such info.
Sunday August 18, 2019 6:04 pm
Posted by descargar facebook as
Wow, superb blog structure! How long have you been running a
blog for? you make running a blog look easy. The overall look of
your website is excellent, let alone the content material!
Monday August 19, 2019 7:12 pm
Posted by descargar facebook as
Do you have a spam problem on this blog; I also am a
blogger, and I was wondering your situation; many of us have
developed some nice methods and we are looking to trade
methods with others, why not shoot me an e-mail if interested.
Saturday August 24, 2019 12:20 am
Posted by quest bars cheap as
I am sure this paragraph has touched all the internet users, its
really really good article on building up new website.
Saturday September 07, 2019 2:35 am
Posted by quest bars cheap as
This post is priceless. Where can I find out more?
Sunday September 08, 2019 7:33 am
Posted by quest bars cheap as
I always spent my half an hour to read this web site's articles or reviews every day along with a cup of coffee.
Sunday September 08, 2019 1:37 pm
Posted by quest bars cheap as
Everything is very open with a very clear clarification of the issues.
It was definitely informative. Your website is extremely helpful.
Thank you for sharing!
Monday September 16, 2019 4:01 am
Posted by minecraft games as
I'd like to find out more? I'd care to find out some additional information.
Wednesday September 25, 2019 7:59 am
Posted by minecraft games as
I'm really enjoying the design and layout of your site.
It's a very easy on the eyes which makes it much more pleasant for me to
come here and visit more often. Did you hire
out a developer to create your theme? Outstanding work!
Wednesday October 09, 2019 5:07 am
Posted by quest bars cheap as
Hi there, i read your blog occasionally and i own a similar one and i was just wondering
if you get a lot of spam comments? If so how do you protect
against it, any plugin or anything you can advise?

I get so much lately it's driving me crazy so any
assistance is very much appreciated.
Friday October 11, 2019 3:05 am
Posted by quest bars cheap as
I don't even know how I ended up here, but I thought this post was good.
I don't know who you are but certainly you are going to a famous
blogger if you are not already ;) Cheers!
Tuesday October 22, 2019 8:30 am
Posted by quest bars cheap as
Wow that was unusual. I just wrote an extremely long comment but after I clicked submit my comment didn't show up.
Grrrr... well I'm not writing all that over again. Anyways, just
wanted to say excellent blog!
Friday October 25, 2019 3:53 am
Posted by coconut oil health b as
Ahaa, its good discussion regarding this article at this place at
this weblog, I have read all that, so at this time me also commenting at this place.
Monday November 11, 2019 5:01 am
Posted by plenty of fish datin as
hello!,I really like your writing very a lot!
share we communicate extra approximately
your post on AOL? I require an expert in this area to solve my problem.
Maybe that is you! Taking a look ahead to see you.
Tuesday November 12, 2019 7:53 am
Posted by plenty of fish datin as
Touche. Outstanding arguments. Keep up the great spirit.
Thursday November 14, 2019 4:08 am
Posted by this coconut oil as
Hello, always i used to check weblog posts here in the early hours in the dawn, for
the reason that i like to gain knowledge of more and more.
Friday November 15, 2019 10:48 am
Posted by what coconut oil as
Heya i'm for the first time here. I found this board and
I find It really useful & it helped me out much.
I hope to give something back and aid others like you helped
Tuesday November 19, 2019 8:46 am
Posted by http://tinyurl.com/ as
Article writing is also a excitement, if you be familiar with then you can write if not it is complex
to write.
Monday November 25, 2019 8:41 pm
Posted by plenty of fish datin as
I've learn a few excellent stuff here. Certainly price bookmarking for
revisiting. I surprise how a lot effort you set to make one of these magnificent informative website.
Thursday November 28, 2019 3:47 am
Posted by ps4 games as
Undeniably believe that which you stated. Your favorite justification seemed to
be on the internet the simplest thing to be aware of.
I say to you, I certainly get irked while people consider
worries that they just do not know about. You managed to hit the
nail upon the top as well as defined out the whole thing without having side effect ,
people could take a signal. Will probably be back to get more.
Thursday December 05, 2019 11:39 am
Posted by ps4 games as
We stumbled over here different website and
thought I might as well check things out. I like what I
see so i am just following you. Look forward to looking into your web
page for a second time.
Friday December 06, 2019 8:43 am
Posted by ps4 games as
Greetings! I know this is kind of off topic but I was wondering which blog platform are you using for this site?
I'm getting tired of Wordpress because I've had issues with hackers and I'm looking at options for another platform.

I would be great if you could point me in the direction of a good platform.

Take a Look at Upcoming Events

Want more Information? Email Me Now

  Email UDM Aquatic Services

Home Page  |  About Us  |  Why UDM  |  Services  |  Courses  |  Photo Gallery  |  Links  |  FAQ


          UDM Aquatic Services

                  Hours By Appointment:  Mon. thru Fri. 4-8PM, Sat. and Sun. 9AM - 5PM


615 McNary Ave. # 2

Canonsburg, PA  15317