Is the Advanced Open Water course just about going deeper?

Most new divers will be excited to do and learn more once they’ve gotten their Open Water certification. From here, there are two easy next steps: Book another dive trip and/or take the Advanced Open Water (AOW) course.

(Note: A number of diver training agencies offer an advanced open water course. As can be expected, the syllabuses and prerequisites vary. Wikipedia offers a good overview here. One of the most widely known AOW courses is offered by PADI.)

On the face of it, the AOW course seems to be just about going deeper, past the 18m limit that the OW certification imposes on new divers. And unfortunately, this is how some instructors conduct the Advanced course—where it’s more like a leisure diving weekend than a course—and why some divers complain afterwards that they didn’t learn anything.

While the Open Water course focuses on the basics of diving safely, it doesn’t offer the time or scope to do much else. It makes sense then that the Advanced course should give divers the opportunity to hone their skills—and get more comfortable underwater.

The Advanced Open Water course is also an excellent gateway to inspire imagination and fire up the urge to explore in new divers. Be it deep dives, wrecks, caverns, dives in strong current, open ocean pinnacle dives, photography or videography, the possibilities are endless!

We at Living Seas believe that in order to call oneself an “Advanced” diver, you should have control over your position in the water, so we introduce manoeuvring techniques such as the various frog and flutter kicks, the backward kick and the helicopter turn. After all, if you plan to do more challenging dives, you’d definitely want to have more control in the water!

Besides teaching new skills, the advanced course should involve experiencing different types of dives, such as Navigation, Deep Dives (20m to 30m), Drift Dives, Boat Dives, Night Dives, and more. Exposing new divers to a diversity of dives—under supervision of course—helps to broaden their perspectives of what diving is and can be.

Hopefully, something sparks an intense desire within them to continue diving and exploring. I’ve always believed that if someone is interested and passionate about diving, they can’t not want to care and conserve it for future generations.

Whether you’re teaching or learning the AOW, seize the opportunity to inspire—or be inspired! The AOW is not just about going deeper; it’s an opportunity to broaden one’s horizons, and see what more diving can offer. It’s a really wide world of oceans, after all.

Leon Boey is a GUE, HSA and PADI instructor based in Singapore and Bali. He runs the dive education centre Livingseas in Singapore, Bali and Jakarta. Diving since 2005, he first fell in love with wrecks. He enjoys all sorts of diving, and loves being surrounded by fish.

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