Technical diving is growing in popularity thanks in part to the vast growth of the recreational dive industry. Along with the growing number of divers has come an increase in training centres offering tec courses (such as PADI TecRec), more instructors, and more equipment manufacturers coming into the market.
Technical diving is generally understood to be diving beyond the recreational scuba diving limits. This might include diving to greater than 130ft max depth, longer bottom time than the no decompression limits, required stage decompression, different gas mixtures during the dive, or diving in an overhead environment. We’ve all seen the tec divers gearing up with multiple tanks clipped onto them, slates with calculations for air mixtures and decompression stops, and lots of unusual looking gear. They can look intimidating to many divers, especially newly certified ones. So what’s the appeal of tec diving? Why would someone want to go through the additional training, and wear all of that equipment, just to go deeper and stay longer?
Tec diving expands the underwater world for divers. Many wrecks and dive sites are beyond the recreational dive limits, either exceeding max depth or not allowing for much bottom time to fully experience the dive. As well, some love the challenge of exploring where even fewer have gone before. And some just love the science involved to dive at these depths. So is tec diving the next logical step for recreational divers? I believe it all comes down to personal motivation.
All scuba diving has its inherent risks, which we seek to minimize through training, experience, and critical thinking; technical diving is no different. Additional training, equipment, and experience reduce the added risks associated with going deeper, longer. For some divers, tec goes beyond their comfort level and risk profile. This doesn’t make them any less of a diver, or any less motivated to challenge themselves. On the contrary, many recreational divers, myself included, challenge their recreational diving limits by travelling to new destinations around the world, exploring new specialties, or trying to spot new species of fish and creatures and capture photos.
I believe the next logical step in diving is just to keep diving! There are plenty of challenges that lie within both technical and recreational diving. And whether you choose to pursue tec now, in the future, or never, the choice should be based on your motivation to learn a new skill and take that step if and when it’s right for you.