What do I need to know?
Now Available! Scuba: A Practical Guide for the New Diver 2nd Edition!SCUBA: A Practical Guide for the New Diver 2nd Edition is designed to be used as a supplement for the Basic Open Water text of any agency. It contains those items that you may not have been told in your OW class but are, in my opinion, crucial for the new diver to know. Safe Diving Practices, Diver Responsibility, Buddy Skills, Dive Planning, Gas Management, and how to choose a number of things. Including equipment, instructors, courses, and even your Local Dive Shop (LDS). Some may find it controversial as it does expose some truths that are often not revealed to new divers until later in their diving careers. Available via Amazon and other on line book sellers.
New Feature: Training tip of the week. Communication is key when diving with buddies. Effective communication is necessary for successful dive planning. The time to start communicating about a dive is not at the dive site. When the decision is first made to dive is when the process should begin. Every aspect of the entire experience from who drives to the site to who brings the donuts for after the dive is part of the overall dive plan and needs to be communicated. For comprehensive training in dive planning and other areas contact me to tailor a workshop for you and your dive buddies.
1. What do I need to start scuba training? A: First of all you need to be comfortable in the water and be able to swim.
2. Is it physically demanding? A: It can be. Scuba does not require you to be an Olympic class athlete. It does require you to be in good physical shape.
3. What about smoking? A: There are divers that smoke. Most boats do not allow it and if you do smoke you should quit if you dive. Smoking increases risks of dive related illnesses that we will cover in your class. As a side note UDM Aquatic Services recommends that if you do smoke you should quit before beginning training. You will not be permitted to smoke during class and at the pool.
4. How long does the basic class take and how is it divided up? A: It depends on your schedule. The SEI open water class is set up to take from 6-8 weeks with classroom and pool time taking equal amounts of time. This is usually 2-3 hours in the classroom and 2-3 hours in the pool each session. It is then followed by 5 open water checkout dives done over two days. 4 scuba dives and 1 skin dive. Classroom and pool total 32 hours, add 8 hours for OW and you end up with a 40 hour course.
5. Where will my training take place? A: This depends on your location and schedule. Pool training will take place at a local heated facility in Washington, Pa and classroom instruction can be at my location in Canonsburg, Pa, or if you prefer, your own home at slightly more cost (call for details and estimated extra expense). Open water dives will be conducted at a local lake or quarry unless you elect to do them at a warm water location via a referral or on a scheduled trip. In the case of Private Executive Lessons you have the option of doing these dives under my supervision at a warm water location at your expense for my travel.
6. Is it expensvie to learn to scuba dive? A: Scuba is comparable with other equipment intensive sports. Golf, skiing, parachuting,scuba can be done relatively inexpensively or depending on the type and location of your diving the costs can go up. But in the long run recreational diving is on par with golf or skiing and many times, once you own your own equipment, less expensive than those sports. No greens fees or lift tickets to buy!
7. What are Private Executive Lessons? A: These lessons are for those individuals who for whatever reason want training on an exclusive one on one basis. Many times public figures, celebrities, or wealthy individuals want to do things out of the public eye. I offer private, discrete lessons for these persons. The cost of these varies with the amount of privacy desired, logistics involved, and time required. This is determined on a case by case basis. Call or email me for a consultation.
8. Can I use the equipment a friend or relative gave me for classes and checkouts? A: Absolutely! Provided it is in good condition and safe to use. As a factory authorized technician for major equipment manufacturer I can easily determine if the gear is good to go. If I determine that there are any deficiencies you can still use it provided the needed items are serviced by a qualified technician. I can refer you to someone to service the gear. You can also use any gear you purchase during your class.
9. Do I have to purchase equipment from you or those recommended by you? A: No, but I and the dealers I refer you to stand behind their products and offer authorized service for them. You can be assured that the dealers I refer you to will give you the best value for your money. Being an independent instructor, along with SEI Diving standards that require me to put my student's best interests first, guarantees that the advice I give is with your satisfaction as my primary goal.
10. What sets UDM Aquatics training apart from other agencies: A: Our program is based on skills and education as opposed to profit. Our goal is to produce safe, capable, and confident divers as opposed to "underwater tourists" . As a certified Open Water Diver you should not require the services of a Divemaster or Guide for many recreational dives. A new location, different conditions than what you are used to, or places that require you to have a guide are to be expected. But SCUBA is a chance to discover new things. You should be able to decide what interests you in the water. So you should be able to assemble your gear, plan your dive with your buddy,execute that plan, and get back to the entry point safely. If you cannot do this then you have been shortchanged in your training. As a UDM Aquatics trained diver you are able to do all of this when I hand you your certification card. You do not need to spend additional money taking courses covering basic subjects. In today's times you want value for your money. UDM Aquatic Services gives you that value in the Pittsburgh/Washington, Pa area as well as the surrounding areas of Ohio, West Virgina, and Maryland.
11. Where will we train? The classroom sessions will be held at the most convenient location. This can be at my home or yours. The pool scuba training will take place in Washington, PA at Dive World. The heated indoor pool and on site dive shop run by Brian Dunn offers convenience, value, and service that is unique to the area. This is a shop with it's own indoor heated pool in the Pittsburgh area for scuba instruction that gives me more flexibility in scheduling classes all year round.
12. Do you have set schedules for other classes such as Advanced Open Water, Underwater Navigation, or other specialties? No I do not. Being an independent instructor gives me the freedom to schedule classes on an individual basis. When you elect to take an advanced class with me you can rest assured that your needs and schedule is given top priority. Whether the class includes a group or just the individual I will make sure that you get the best value and training. If scheduled ahead of time private advanced lessons are at no extra cost unless there are boat, entry, or extraordinary travel expenses( such as airfare) involved.When a class is scheduled in advance occurs from time to time. In this case if there are spots open they may be joined by calling and making arrangements to join the class. Please note however that I currently will not create classes of more than 4 people for advanced classes. Due to the skills required and time available this insures that you get the best education and the individual attention required. I also offer specialty classes on an as needed basis to accomodate those who are traveling to train with me.
13. I'm a Dive Master for another agency and would like to certify with SEI or SDI, can you do the crossover? Absolutley! There are certain requirements that need to be met and standards to be learned. Give me a call to set up an interview and discuss the crossover schedule and my requirements for accepting DM candidates and set up a skill evaluation pool session.
14. Why do you require actual diving experience before allowing someone to take an Advanced or Specialty Class? Many times in the scuba industry today the focus of Advanced Open Water class or other Specialties is tilted towards making money for the shop or agency. Allowing a new diver to take my Advanced class for instance before they have actually put to use the skills they learned in Open Water class is a poor idea. If you are still working on getting your buoyancy control down, swimming in a horizontal position, and other basic skills you will be too concerned with this to pickup on all the skills you need to pass the Advanced Class. And it is possible to not complete this class successfully. I do not offer "tour classes". There are skill requirements as well as knowledge requirements that must be met in order to get your card. As another example, allowing a student to take an underwater photography class if they cannot hold trim, hover, or stay off the reef or bottom is defeating the entire purpose of the additional training as it merely reinforces bad habits.
15. What geographical areas do you offer instruction to? Actually there are no real limits if the student is willing to travel. While I primarily teach in SW PA, West Virginia, and Ohio, I have had students travel from South Carolina, Delaware, Toronto, and the Niagra region of Canada as well as Philadelphia to train with me. The shop that I use is located in Washington PA, I also am available for students from Pittsburgh, Morgantown, Wheeling, and all surrounding towns. I'm also willing to travel anywhere at the students expense should they require it for checkout dives. So for the best in skills and education based training anywhere call me.
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UDM Aquatic Services
Hours By Appointment: Mon. thru Fri. 4-8PM, Sat. and Sun. 9AM - 5PM