There are quite a lot of course requirements for Divemaster, ranging from mapping a dive site to assisting in different courses, but the Divemaster skills exercises are what many people get nervous about! There are 5 different “tests”, all scored out of 5, and you must make a total of 15 points. That’s an average of 3 points per skill, which isn’t really so bad when you think about it, so you can start to relax already!
15 minute tread
Of all the Divemaster skills, this was by far the easiest for me, but don’t be fooled, I saw someone really struggle with this! The aim is to tread water, float or basically do whatever you want to keep your head out of the water for 15 minutes, with your hands out of the water for the last 2 minutes. Now, if you are super floaty like me, you can just lie back and relax. However, if you are pure muscle and sink like a rock, then this is the only water skill where being in such great shape isn’t going to help! You will most likely have to kick continuously to keep your head out of the water, and that is not too easy, particularly when your hands come out of the water! If you can get this done in the ocean as opposed to the pool then you are already giving yourself a helping hand with the salt water of course. And no, you can’t wear your wetsuit!
100 meter tow
Using whichever tow you like, and with you and your buddy in full scuba equipment, you must complete a 100 meter tow. You can switch positions as you go but you must not stop! I started by holding my buddy Amanda’s tank valve and swimming on my back, but after about 20 seconds I had to switch as I felt like I wasn’t moving! So I put my regulator in and swam on my front instead. Check the current before you start and don’t swim against it, and if possible, choose your buddy wisely! There is a huge difference between towing a petite girl or trying to drag a 200lb guy! Also, it helps if your buddy’s BCD isn’t inflated to the absolute maximum!
400 meter swim
Literally, that is exactly what it is, but have you seen how far 400 meters is?! If you are like me and you have no concept of distance, then you might be in for a shock! You can use any stroke you like, but you cannot stop. I was genuinely worried that I might not even be able to complete the swim as we walked along the beach for what seemed like miles. Of course I am a pretty strong swimmer, but I’m not athletic or super fit by any stretch of the imagination! It was the most difficult of the water skills for me, but I managed to score a 3! Meaning I did it in under 8 minutes 40 seconds, which is good enough for me! If you want a 5, you have to be quicker than 6 and a half minutes.
800 meter fins mask and snorkel swim
Twice the distance as above, but a lot easier as you can use your fins (I love my Cressi Reactions), so you are best off using the best pair you can get your hands on if you don’t already own your own! It is a really long way, we did it parallel to the beach, using the pier as a reference. You have to keep your face in the water, but are allowed to look up to check you are still going in the right direction. My advice would be pace yourself, don’t start too eager as you have quite a way to go. I did it along side 4 others, and tried to ignore what they were doing and how far ahead or behind they were. Coming in at just under 15 minutes, I got another 4 points.
Sometimes referred to as the “Stress Test”, it basically shows that you can respond to an extremely unlikely situation, whilst under pressure, in a calm manner. You and another person, in confined water, must swap all of your equipment, so mask, fins and BCD. Oh, and you must only share one regulator! Whilst I can’t imagine any scenario in diving where you would have to do this, it certainly throws some interesting problems at you that you have to work as a team to resolve. Me and my buddy Daniel started with our masks, whilst maintaining a rhythm of 2 breaths each and then passing the regulator. Then to the BCD, removing the unit we were breathing from first! It can get a bit tricky, with no tank I become a bit floaty, so you need to use teamwork, and at some points help your buddy out by putting the regulator in their mouth if their hands are busy! Next was fins, which I can imagine would have been a lot harder if you don’t have similar sized open heel fins! My biggest piece of advice is both wear your weights on a belt as opposed to integrated! This is the only skill for which you must score at least a 3, meaning neither of surface during the exercise. There are lots of videos online that you can watch to see how it is done!
Going on to the IDC? Click here to find out what you should expect during the PADI IDC!