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Why I love the new PADI Open Water Course

Why I love the new PADI Open Water Course


I have been a PADI instructor for 10 years now. I have taught countless PADI Open Water courses and have helped facilitate the transition of  hundreds of land dwellers into ocean enthusiasts. I have watched/listened/ danced to the open water video more times than I care to remember, and I know every line of the script. It’s a great course, but as with anything, change is inevitable and the new PADI Open Water Course is absolutely amazing. It has taken a tried and true syllabus to a whole new level…expanding some topics and eliminating others.


16641792742_a0be878773_oSo what’s new?




New Open Water Video

The new course has a brand new video. Gordo (the rather large gentlemen in the Hawaiian shirt and ridiculous frog mask) has disappeared. No longer do we have to cringe at his attempt at humor when he walks off the peer, flopping into the ocean.  I have to be honest – I don’t miss him!


What else do I love about the new video? The narrators are more interesting.  The underwater footage is brighter, clearer and sharper. I observe my students as they watch and it definitely holds their attention more than the last one . Their increased thirst for the relayed information is evident in their eyes. They “lean in” during countless particularly interesting sections,  not wanting to miss a word. That is lovely to see, and it makes the instructor’s job so much easier

and way more fun.


New Confined Water Skills and Sequence.


Confined water training is the first step for most students to the underwater world. As with the old course, it eases students into all the fundamentals of diving gently. Skills progress fluidly from one to another and students respond extremely well, mastering each skill .

So whats new?

PADI Open Water Course = New Skills:


Loose cylinder Band

I have lost count of how many times I have seen and assisted a diver who has encountered a cylinder band that has become loose, threatening to detach itself from the BCD. This new skill has been introduced to give students the knowledge and experience to deal with such a problem should they ever encounter it.

I adore this skill, it is practical and necessary and it is a very welcome addition to the PADI Open Water course.

Air Management

PADI Open Water Course

The New PADI Open Water Course Enforces Student Air Monitoring

The old course encouraged students to monitor their air gauge frequently. In my experience however, I found that most students waited for the instructor to prompt them during their training, not making it a habit. The new Open Water course encourages students to keep monitoring air supply by informing them that you, the instructor, would be asking them to make an estimated “guess” at any time. Students have to signal their air supply within 20 bar in order reach this skill’s  performance requirement.


At first, I was doubtful of this skill. As an instructor with ten years experience, I expected students to have the same instructor dependance as on the old course.  I am happy to say that I was totally wrong. The simple fact that students are expecting this test at any time make them check their air constantly. All students that I have taught so far have “guessed” their air supply within the 20 bar requirement – many are spot on, which is amazingly wonderful.


Trim Check

PADI Open Water Course

The Trim Check Ensures Optimal Positioning for Scuba Diving

The old course contained a weight check, as does the new one. This ensures that the student has the correct weight for their dive and keeps them comfortably in control throughout their training. The new PADI Open Water Course goes one step further. The Trim Check not only ensures that the diver is sufficiently weighted , but also checks that the weight is distributed in the optimal location on their bodies. This is not only more comfortable, but it allows them to quickly adapt to the ideal horizontal position in the water. Great.


Mini Dive

The sequencing of the skills in confined water have shifted a little..Confined Water Dive 5 now incorporates a “mini dive” into the final training session. This simulated dive focuses on students planning and executing their own dive in confined water. Students have to plan their dive, from entry and exit techniques, weight/trim checks, decent and protecting the “sensitive” pool bottom.  Students are also given up to three simulated “problems” during this mini dive, to see how they respond. I love this addition because it better prepares the divers in training for their upcoming open water dives. Excellent!


PADI Skill Practice Slate

Student slate PADI open water

The PADI Skill Practice Slate is a Great Tool

This is my absolute favorite new addition to the PADI Open Water Course. Students are given a slate with each skill that will be taught and assessed in the pool. Next to each skill is a “happy face” or “worried face” box. Students are encouraged to check either emoticon to inform the instructor of how comfortable they are with each skill. I love it because when asked face to face, students are often embarrassed to say that they would like to spend a little more time with a skill that they have found a little challenging. This informal checklist gives them the freedom to tell you, the instructor, how they feel, free from embarrassment. This slate can then be photocopied and added to their student record file for future reference.





PADI Open water Training Dives


PADI Open Water Course

The 4 open water training dives puts into practice the skills learnt in the swimming pool

The 4 open water training dives, as before, puts into practice the skills learnt in the swimming pool. During the first open water dive, the old course was skill free. This allowed students to experience the underwater world without assessment. The new PADI Open Water Course now has skills on the first dive. Not many, but a few. I like this because we are, after all, in training aren’t we? The new course has skills on the first three open water dives, and the biggest change is found in Open Water Dive Four. This dive is, like in the pool, focuses on getting the student to plan and execute a dive themselves within their buddy pairs. Students feel excited to be able to do this. I love this addition because I feel that it gives the student confidence that they are ready to become a certified diver. It better prepares them to be “released into the wild” – and they are more relaxed and comfortable to then rent some equipment and go for a dive without a dive professional. It a truly welcome addition. .


I love the new PADI Open Water Course. The changes are evidence of PADI’s dedication to diver training. PADI are constantly asking questions via student questionnaires and responses are recorded and analyzed. Instructor feedback at PADI member forums and the three  head offices around the world are always open to hearing from their professional members. The new course is evidence of their dedication. The changes are the result of years of feedback from students, divers and professionals.


It just goes to show why 80% of the world’s divers are PADI trained. I love being a part of this huge, happy family – don’t you? 🙂

Why don’t you sign up for the next PADI Open Water Course with Scuba Monkey?

Click here!!

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