Technical diving is scuba diving’s “extreme” sport, taking experienced and qualified divers far deeper than in mainstream recreational diving. Technical diving is marked by significantly more equipment and training requirements to manage the additional hazard this type of diving entails. Tec diving isn’t for everyone, but for those who hear its challenge call, the PADI TecRec courses are the answer.
What is technical diving?
Technical scuba diving is defined as diving other than conventional commercial or research diving that takes divers beyond recreational scuba diving limits. It is further defined as and includes one or more of the following:
• diving beyond 40 metres/130 feet deep
• required stage decompression
• diving in an overhead environment beyond 40 linear metres/130 linear feet of the surface
• accelerated decompression and or the use of variable gas mixtures during the dive
Because in technical diving the surface is effectively inaccessible in an emergency, tec divers use extensive methodologies and technologies and training to manage the added risks. Even with these, however, tec diving admittedly has more risk, potential hazard and shorter critical error chains than does recreational scuba diving.
How long has technical diving been around?
Most people would agree that cave diving is a form of technical diving. Cave diving developed in the late 1960s and 1970s, developing into a discipline largely like it is today by the mid 1980s. In the early 1990s, several groups of divers around the world began experimenting with technologies for deep diving (beyond recreational limits) to explore both caves and wrecks. These communities united and emerged as “technical diving” or “tec diving” with the publication of aquaCorps (no longer in print), which dedicated itself to this type of diving. Since then, tec diving continues to develop both in scope and in its technologies.
Why would I want to be a tec diver?
Tec diving not only has more risk, but it requires significantly more effort, discipline and equipment. It’s not for everyone, and you can be an accomplished, avid top-notch diver your entire life without making a tec dive.
That said, there’s a cadre of individuals who want to visit places underwater that relatively few people can. Many spectacular, untouched wrecks lie at depths well below 40 metres/130 feet. Deep reefs have organisms you don’t find in the shallows. Some people enjoy the challenge and focus tec diving requires. Still others love being involved with cutting edge technologies. These reasons make tec diving rewarding.
The PADI TecRec Difference
The TecRec program debuted in 2000. Although TecRec is not the first tec diving program (cave diver training has been around for decades), it repeatedly receives accolades for its merits.
• TecRec courses are integrated into an instructionally valid, seamless course flow that takes you from beginning tec diver to one qualified to the outer reaches of sport diving using different gas mixes.
• Each level introduces you to new gear, planning and procedures appropriate to extend your diving limits.
• The Tec Diver course is an integrated sequence of three subcourses: Tec 40, Tec 45 and Tec 50. You can complete them continuously, or you can complete each level separately with a time span between them. This gives you learning efficiency, instructional integrity and schedule flexibility.
The Scuba Gear You’ll Use
• Tec diving uses much more equipment than recreational diving. The technical scuba gear typically uses two to four or five regulators, a dive computer, and some accessories.
• Check with your local dive shop about the gear you need for this course. You can find most everything at the PADI Dive Center or Resort in your area.
TecRec prerequisites vary (see individual course descriptions), but the following applies to anyone interested in technical diving: You must be
• 18 years or older
• A mature, responsible person who will follow the required procedures and requirements strictly and faithfully
• Medically fit for tec diving (physician’s signature required)
• Willing to accept the added risks that tec diving presents
• An experienced diver with at least 100 logged dives
• Certified as a PADI Enriched Air Diver and PADI Deep Diver or equivalent (for this program equivalency is proof of training in recreational deep diving 18 meters/60 feet to 40 meters/130 feet consisting of at least four dives and training in nitrogen narcosis considerations, contingency/emergency decompression, making safety stops and air supply management OR, have a minimum of 20 logged dives deeper than 30 meters/100 feet.)
The preparatory Tec Basics is not a compulsory course in the PADI TecRec Technical Diving progression. Nonetheless I find it fundamental. By building a solid foundation it allows easing the progression in the following courses. From the previously taught courses, I noticed how it helps students to reach mastery within the number of planned dives, reducing dramatically student drop out and makeup dives. Should the student or candidate instructor, had never dived with twins before, or has contact with bottom and/or shows difficulty during assessment dive, he/she will be required to participate in the Tec basics before moving to Tec 40.
The text below is from the Instructor Guide
The Tec 40 course introduces divers to limited decompression diving within accepted recreational depth limits. Although the student who clearly intends to continue through Tec 50 is encouraged to complete Tec 40 in complete tec diving gear, the limits of the Tec 40 qualification allow more flexibility. Therefore, to accommodate divers interested in very limited tec diving, the Tec 40 equipment requirements are only a bit beyond those of the standard recreational kit.
A Tec 40 diver is qualified to:
• Use decompression software and dive computers to plan and make decompression dives with not more than 10 minutes of total decompression and not deeper than 40 metres/130 feet.
• Use a single cylinder of decompression gas with up to 50 percent oxygen (EANx50) to add conservatism to the required decompression.
The Tec 40 course consists of knowledge development, three practical application sessions, one confined or limited open water dive, two open water no stop dives (simulated decompression) and one open water decompression dive.
The Tec 45 course provides a transitional qualification while continuing to develop as a technical diver. The equipment requirements are the same as for the Tec Deep Diver Course. This diver is qualified to make limited technical decompression dives using the equipment and the procedures used at the Tec Deep Diver level. However, qualifications are narrow, reflecting comparatively limited training and experience. The expectation is that a Tec 45 diver plans to continue on to Tec 50.
A Tec 45 diver is qualified to:
• Make single and repetitive dives to a maximum depth of 45 metres/145 feet.
• Use a single decompression gas of EANx, or oxygen, to accelerate or add conservatism to the decompression.
In addition to the Tec 40 course requirements, the Tec 45 course consists of knowledge development, three practical application sessions, one confined or limited open water dive, two open water no stop dives (simulated decompression) and one open water decompression dive.
The Tec 50 course is the complete, entry-level skill set for extensive open circuit deep decompression tec diving (formerly Tec Deep Diver). The diver is qualified to make technical decompression dives within the limits of training and equipment.
A Tec 50 is qualified to:
• Use air, EANx and oxygen for multiple stop decompression dives as deep as 50 metres/165 feet using standard open circuit, multiple cylinder (backmount and/or sidemount) tec diving equipment.
• Use two decompression gases (EANx and/or oxygen) to accelerate or add conservatism to the decompression.
In addition to the Tec 45 course requirements, the Tec 50 course consists of knowledge development, two practical application sessions, two open water no stop dives (simulated decompression) and two open water decompression dives.
Minimum Required Personal Diving Equipment
If you plan to use a dry suit, you should be trained/experienced in its use in recreational
diving prior to using it for tec training or tec diving.
o Exposure suit appropriate for environment and dive duration
o Mask and fins
o Weight belt (if needed)
o Knife/cutting device
o Bottom timer and depth gauge
o Surface Marker Buoy
Required Equipment Available for Rental
o Tec diving BCD
o Double cylinders of at least 12 litres each, with isolator manifold.
o Primary and secondary regulators for back mounted double manifolds, one
with two metre hose for air sharing and one with SPG
o One aluminium (40 cuft/ 5.7 litres) Oxygen stage/decompression cylinder with
regulator and SPG, with proper labels/markings.
Additional Recommended Equipment for Diver Level Course
o Argon/ Air dry suit inflation system
o Canister Light
o Back up mask
Additional Required Equipment
For Tec 45 and above
In addition to the minimum required personal diving equipment Tec 40, the following is
o Backup buoyancy control – the student must have a reliable means for
controlling buoyancy and maintaining decompression stops in midwater with a
failed primary BCD. This is usually accomplished with a backup BCD (double
wings) or, when using light weight cylinders, the use of a dry suit is permitted.
o Backup timer and depth gauge
o Backup knife/cutting device
o Back up mask
For Tec 50 and above
In addition to the minimum required personal diving equipment Tec 45, the following is
o One aluminium (40 cuft/ 5.7 litres or larger) oxygen clean
stage/decompression cylinder with regulator and SPG, with proper
o Backup light
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